How to change the boot order of guest VM on VMware Player

When you run a virtual machine (VM) on VMware Player, the default boot sequence of the VM is "removable devices -> hard drive -> CD-ROM drive". If you want to boot a VM from an ISO image instead, you need to change the boot sequence of the VM, so that it starts with CD-ROM drive.

In this article, I will describe how to change the boot sequence of a guest VM on VMware Player.

As a demonstration, I will set up a guest VM to boot from an ISO image, which requires booting from CD/DVD.

The first step is to edit the CD/DVD setting of a VM. Open up the virtual machine settings of a VM, and edit the CD/DVD setting to connect to the ISO image that you want to boot from.

There are several ways to change the boot sequence of a guest VM on VMware Player.

Method One

Simply, power on the guest VM. Right after the VM is powered on, and before power-on self test (POST) starts, click into the VM's console screen, and then press <F2> button. That will lead you to the guest VM's BIOS settings as shown below.

Go to "Boot" tab, and press <down> key to highlight "CD-ROM" drive. Press <SHIFT> and <+> keys to move "CD-ROM" drive up on top.

Save the change, and exit the BIOS settings.

Upon exit, the guest VM will boot from the ISO image loaded on CD-ROM drive.

If you cannot press <F2> button quickly enough to enter BIOS settings, add the following entry to the *.vmx file of the guest VM.

bios.bootDelay = "<number_of_milliseconds>"

This will delay POST procedure. Note that the unit of numbers is milliseconds. So if you want to delay POST screen by 5 seconds, it should be: bios.bootDelay = "5000". The maximum allowable boot delay is 10000 milliseconds or 10 seconds. With additional boot delay, you will have more time before booting, during which you can press <F2> key to enter the BIOS setup menu.

Method Two

Alternatively, you can add the following entry in the *.vmx file of the guest VM. This will "force" the guest VM to automatically enter the BIOS settings upon power-on.

bios.forceSetupOnce = "TRUE"

Note that bios.forceSetupOnce will automatically be reset to "FALSE" in .vmx file after successful booting. So the next time you power on the VM, it will not re-enter the BIOS setting. If you want to re-enter the BIOS setting, you will have to edit .vmx file, and set bios.forceSetupOnce to TRUE manually again.

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Dan Nanni is the founder and also a regular contributor of He is a Linux/FOSS enthusiast who loves to get his hands dirty with his Linux box. He likes to procrastinate when he is supposed to be busy and productive. When he is otherwise free, he likes to watch movies and shop for the coolest gadgets.

4 thoughts on “How to change the boot order of guest VM on VMware Player

  1. I find that VirtualBox is definitely at an advantage here. You can choose the boot order in a quite convenient manner without even starting the VM.

  2. Thanks for the article! It worked for me. In response to @Marco problem with keyboard, I used the +/- keys located in the numeric pad to change the order.

  3. best and simplest solution i found myself is

    - right click to vm (for example windows 8)
    - power > power on to firmware (this goes for bios)
    - then do your setting on boot tab (+ and - buttons)
    - f10 save

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