Patrick Bougie — web developer / entrepreneur from Montréal, Canada. Founder of WorkSked — a web app to manage employee work schedules and time off.

Retina OS X in a VMware Fusion VM

I develop on a MacBook Pro with Retina display and use a VMware Fusion OS X guest virtual machines for testing purposes. Unfortunately, configuring a guest VM with Retina support is not straightforward. Here’s the solution I used and now my guest VM looks as great as my host OS. Follow these instructions to enable HiDPI mode in your OS X guest VM:

  • Install the VMware Tools by selecting Virtual Machine → Install VMware Tools in the menubar. Follow the on-screen instructions.
  • Set Use full resolution for Retina display in VMware Fusion’s Settings → Display preferences panel.
  • Run this command in Terminal on your OS X guest VM and enter your password when requested: sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.windowserver.plist DisplayResolutionEnabled -bool true
  • Log out of your OS X guest VM and then re-login.
  • Resize your OS X guest VM window to your preferred dimensions.
  • In System Preferences → Displays, set the resolution to Scaled and then select the HiDPI setting.

Note: If you resize your guest VM, it will revert to the non-HiDPI resolution. Simply re-select the HiDPI resolution in the System Preferences → Displays preferences panel.

Versions: These instructions were tested using VMware Fusion 8 and OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

Feel free to contact me if you require development services or have any questions / comments.