Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Launch Vmware fusion apps from Quicksilver

I switched to a Mac late last year (traded a Powerbook for a Compaq Presario) and immediately started being jealous of all the owners of newer Macs with their intel chips. Specifially, I wanted VMware fusion so that I could run those select few windows apps I have yet to find reasonable mac substitutes for.

So when I bought a new MacBook Pro recently, I made sure I got a copy of Fusion at the same time. It works as advertised and has been very useful.

Unfortunately, I decided to use my Boot Camp partition as my Windows VM, which was a bad choice as far as convenience is concerned. It is not possible to "suspend" the VM, so starting up Fusion to quickly run Solitaire is not all that simple... It has to wait for Windows to boot.

Today I decided to start a new virtual machine, and it has made a great difference. After suspending the machine before closing Fusion, starting Solitaire from its dock icon takes less than 10 seconds. That's not much more than a native app.

OK, here's to the point of this post... I don't use the dock much. According to all the help docs I could find, when a windows app is running in Unity mode, its icon shows up on the dock. Ctrl-click and then choose "keep in dock" and you have your shortcut. That's great if you use the dock. I don't as a rule. I use Quicksilver normally and sometimes just Finder.

So here is my solution:

  1. Have a look in the Finder for your VM. Normally it will be in ~/Documents/Virtual Machines. Ctrl-Click and "show package contents".
  2. See there... a folder called Applications! As far as I can see, that contains links for all the programs you have previously run in Unity mode.
  3. Go to Quicksilver preferences. Under catalogue, add your VM directory. In my case it was "~/Documents/Virtual Machines.localized/Windows XP Professional.vmwarevm".
  4. Wait for a rescan and away you go. (If an app isn't in the catalogue, run it at least once manually: either from the VMware dock icon or menu bar).
  5. Alternatively, you could just find the shortcut in the directory above and create an alias somewhere useful (eg Desktop).

I am looking forward to having much more convenient access to all my (fortunately few) indispensible Windows apps. (there's a topic for another post)