by Andreas

VMWare Player (free) – how to run virtual machine in headless mode

Virtual machine performance can be improved by running your virtual machine in headless mode (e.g. as a background process, without the GUI). Instead of using the console view in the VMWare Player you’ll connect via standard RDP, and in some cases achieve significant performance improvements.

There’s a small requirement to the VMWare Player preference file. You’ll find it under the following directory (at least in Windows 8):


Add the following line at the bottom:

pref.vmplayer.exit.vmAction = "disconnect"

This will ensure that you only disconnect from the virtual machine when closing VMWare Player, not send it into Suspended mode.

Fire the virtual machine up as normal (throught the player), and then kill the VMWare Player process through Task Manager (closing it by clicking the X icon will not work – this will also send the virtual machine into Suspended mode):



The virtual machine is still running in the background, and you’re now able to connect via RDP.

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  • Anonymous

    It´s Works!!!

  • Hans Henrik Bergan

    thanks, it works great. ps, on linux it’s (home folder of the user that vmware is running on)/.vmware/preferences

  • babijs

    thanks! your tip comes first when googling vmplayer headless. here is another one found further down the list of results.

    To be able to close normally the VMWare Player windows with [X], without killing it from task manager :
    add also this line to “C:Users[Username]AppDataRoamingVMwarepreferences.ini”

    pref.vmplayer.confirmOnExit = “FALSE”

    Doing this will stop the vmplayer from prompting with [PowerOff or Suspend?] when [x] is used.
    Of course this can lead also to a VM Guest left running “forgotten” in the background, and using some Gb of Host RAM.