I don't know of any KB article but to boot into El Capitan Recovery Mode, I use Cmd-R as soon as I see VMware on the gray boot screen. That point appears to be the equivalent of the chime.
Thanks for the link. The VMware splash screen having focus seems to be the key to capture the Cmd-R entry. I've done that by rebooting the VM rather than powering it on so that the focus appears to automatically be the VM rather than having to capture it. Also, I have the VM booting in verbose mode which gives a better idea of when the VM has decided to boot in Recovery or regular mode.
If you are ending up in the EFI Boot Manager, the virtual machine might think you are holding down Option instead of Command.
Check your VM's settings to see if you have any unusual mappings of modifier keys. For instance, if you have modifiers mapped inside the guest OS's System Preferences > Keyboard icon > Keyboard tab > Modifier Keys... button, and you have the reverse mapping set in whichever profile is selected in your virtual machine's Settings > Keyboard & Mouse, the firmware will see the "wrong" modifier keys held down during boot but the same modifier keys will work correctly everywhere else.
If you are using a non-Apple keyboard, maybe try using an Apple keyboard, just in case there is some other key mapping strangeness going on.
I changed to enable verbose USB booting and tried again, and still got the EFI boot screen, but when I entered 'RETURN' to boot normally, this time, it managed to boot into recovery mode successfully when I pressed CMB-R after the boot
I am using an Apple Keyboard, and there were no extra mapping set up. I'm using the default Mac Profile in the settings, so I don't know why I'm seeing the BIOS setup screen. It looks like I may have got it right with timing, but it does seem a little random.
Is there anything else I can check to ensure that I'm doing the correct thing here?
Thanks to all for your help.
If I understand you correctly, you succeeded in booting into Recovery after a reboot when the first attempt didn't work and you booted normally instead. It sounds like the issue is, indeed, having keyboard entry focused on the VM soon enough, and when you reboot, the focus never leaves the VM so any keypress goes straight to the VM, which is what you need to enter Recovery. That's the way I've gotten into Recovery reliably, which is why I recommended it.
Useful as entering bios.bootDelay = "5000" in your OS X vmx configuration file might be, it won't take you very far if, when pressing Cmd-R when "vmware" appears on screen, it only takes you to a BIOS menu that has no Recovery HD option anywhere in it!
My hunch is that users with more modern computers than mine (a MacPro1,1) might not share this problem, but perhaps old Intel Macs have this shortcoming. So, here's the solution that, apparently, VMware cannot fix on their own with those older computers.
Once your OS X virtual machine (for instance an El Capitan guest) has been completely shut down, make sure you edit (for instance, using TextEdit) that virtual machine's vmx file by adding the line
bios.bootDelay = "5000"
Save the file and restart the virtual machine.
- When it starts booting, click anywhere inside its screen. When you see "vmware" on the screen, press Cmd-R. That will take you to the "Boot Manager", which will display one really useful option ("Mac OS X"), which lets you boot your OS X virtual machine, but, more likely than not, no option will appear offering you to boot the Recovery HD. If such an option does appear, select it and that should be it. If it doesn't appear, read on.
- Use your down-arrow key until you get to "Enter setup". Press Enter. That will take you to the Boot Maintenance Manager.
- Don't move the focus away from "Configure boot options". Press Enter. That will take you to the "Configure boot option" menu.
- Don't move the focus away from "Add boot option". Press Enter. That will take you to File Explorer, in which a series of boot files are displayed.
- Using your down-arrow key, navigate to the "file" whose name begins with "Recovery HD". Press Enter. You'll remain in File Explorer.
- Using your down-arrow key, navigate to "<com.apple.recovery.boot>". Press Enter. You'll remain in File Explorer.
- Using your down-arrow key, navigate to "boot.efi". Press Enter. That will take you to the "Modify Boot Option Description".
- Don't move the focus away from "Input the description". Enter whatever description you deem appropriate. For instance, enter "Recovery HD".
- Then, on the same screen, select "Commit changes and exit".
- From that point on, whenever you go to your virtual machine's "Boot Manager", there'll be a "Recovery HD" option, which is the one you should select to go to your Recovery HD.