How to Open VMware BIOS Setup Screen on Windows

Wondering how in the world you can enter the BIOS setup screen in VMware Workstation? You are not alone. Here’s a simple way you can do it.

VMware is one of the most popular virtualization or virtual machine software for Windows. With VMware, you can install almost any operating system you want within Windows itself using the virtualization technology. One of the best things about VMware is that it makes it so easy to install all the major operating systems. All you have to do is follow a wizard and you will have your virtual operating system running in no time. Add to that, VMware even lets you access specific hardware devices like USB Sticks with just a few clicks.

Though VMware makes it easy to install the guest operating system, there might be times when you need to access the VMware BIOS screen. For example, once you install a guest operating system, you may need to change boot priority if you want to boot into a live CD or CD/DVD installation disk.

So, without further ado, let me show how you can access the VMware BIOS setup screen in Windows.

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Access VMware BIOS Setup Screen

There are two ways you can force VMware to open the BIOS setup screen. The first method is the easiest as all you have to do is select an option. Follow the second method if the first method is unavailable or not working.

Note: Before proceeding, make sure the virtual machine is powered off and not in a saved state. When in save state, you might not be able to access the BIOS setup screen.

Method #1: Use VMware’s “Power On to Firmware” Option

To make life easier, VMware Workstation has a built-in option that takes you directly to the BIOS screen. All you have to do is select the option and you are done. The advantage of this method is that you don’t have to edit VMware files or press buttons within a time limit.

1. First, open VMware Workstation if it is not already open.

2. On the right panel, find your virtual machine, right-click on it and select “Power → Power On to Firmware”.

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3. As soon as you select the option, your virtual machine will automatically boot into the BIOS screen.

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If the Power On to Firmware option is greyed out, it is possible that the virtual machine is not powered off. Try it after powering it off. If there is no such option, follow the second method.

Method #2: Press F2 on Boot Loading Screen

Just like with a regular computer, VMware virtual machine gives you a couple of seconds to access the BIOS screen while booting it up.

1. First, open VMware Workstation if it is not already open.

2. Turn on the virtual machine and immediately press the F2 key on your keyboard. This action will force VMware to boot into the BIOS setup screen of the target virtual machine.

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(Optional) Increase VMware Boot Splash Screen Timeout

Often the VMware splash screen disappears very quickly and makes it quite hard to press the F2 key in time. In that case, you can increase how long the splash screen appears. That way, you don’t have to be in a hurry to press the key.

1. To do that, we have to modify a VMware file. First, make sure that the virtual machine is powered off. Next, open the folder where the virtual machine located in your hard drive.

A quick tip: Right-click on the virtual machine in VMware and select the “Open VM Directory” option to open the VM folder.

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2. Here, find the “.vmx” file. Now, right-click on it and select “Open With → Notepad”.

Note: If there is no Notepad option, select “Choose another app” and then select Notepad from the list.

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3. Once the file is opened in Notepad, scroll all the way down and add the following line at the bottom. In case you are wondering, 10000 is nothing but time in milliseconds. i.e, ten seconds. The splash screen will wait for that amount of time.

bios.bootdelay = "10000"

4. Save the file and close it.

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That is it. From now on, the VMware virtual machine will show the splash screen for ten seconds. This gives you plenty of time to press the F2 key to enter the BIOS setup screen.

Hope that helps. As you can see, though not obvious at first glance, it is pretty simple to access BIOS screen VMware. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below and I will try to help as much as possible.

If you like this article, do check out how to check if your system supports virtualization and how to convert VirtualBox image to VMware image.

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