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Dare to VMware

The design team at work recently switched to Macs and we’re running VMware Fusion for things like Microsoft Office, SharePoint and our proprietary trading software.

There are some pretty cool things about VMware that are worth calling out before I get into the rough stuff. VMware has a feature called “Unity mode” (similar to Parallels’ Coherence) that allows you to use Windows-based apps as though they’re native to your Mac; they sit on the Dock, move around in Exposé and Spaces, have the same shadow around them as your other Mac windows do.

Watch the video about it below:

Unfortunately, not everything about VMware is hunky-dory. So far my absolute biggest pet peeve is that Ctrl-click activates the context menu, even using a two-button mouse. And yep, that means Ctrl-click doesn’t let me select multiple non-consecutive items in Outlook. This is killing the organizer in me! I compulsively file my emails, and now I need to drag each message over from the Inbox to its folder one at a time. The worst part is that I can’t find a workaround to this anywhere.

For other quirks, VMware Fusion offers release notes — what I like to call “We’re really sorry for these bugs.” A few issues may be the result of running Leopard, like this particular doozy:

If you are running VMware Fusion in Unity view in one space but working in another space, the appearance of a popup window (for instance, an Outlook calendar event reminder) in the VMware Fusion virtual machine can cause Spaces to jump back and forth between the two virtual desktops.

Also annoying is that Unity view doesn’t work with multiple monitors; all windows must be contained within one monitor.

That’s all I have to report for now. As I continue to use the virtual machine, I’m sure I’ll encounter other oddities. For now, it’s pretty empowering to be able to run multiple operating systems side by side, even if it means putting up with some small hassles here and there… and if anyone knows of a fix for the Ctrl-click issue, please let me know!

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  • http://www.purplestars.com Melissa

    If Bootcamp is an option you can always use that to boot into windows. Not sure how to do it, but I’ve heard you can boot into the virtual partition via Bootcamp.

  • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog whitney

    Melissa, unfortunately Bootcamp only allows you to boot into Windows, but not use the Windows and Mac OS simultaneously. Since we have important software running on both sides, we needed a virtual windows solution. VMware seemed like the best option, though I have heard great things about Parallels, too.

  • http://rob.lifford.org/ Rob L.

    The ctrl+click issues was driving me nuts too (so much that I was googling it and found your post) — then a few minutes later I realized that this is right there in the VMWare Fusion Preferences, under Keyboard And Mouse. Just uncheck “Enable Mac OS mouse shortcuts.”

    • Steve

      Rob L, thank you for this! A colleague and I have been trying to figure this out. Thanks!