VMware List VMs Command Line | Useful ESXCLI Commands

VMware ESXi command line is powerful and efficient tool to manage virtual machines. In this article, you will know the essential and useful command line to directly get information without GUI.


By Crystal / Updated on December 14, 2023

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What is VMware command line

VMware vSphere supports several command-line interfaces to manage your virtualization infrastructure, including the vSphere Command-Line Interface (vCLI), ESXi Shell command, and PowerCLI. VMware command line is a powerful tool that performs vSphere, including hosts, networks, storage, virtual machines, guest operating systems, and more.

If you heard about ESXi command line, you may know that ESXi has its own ESXCLI commands. The ESXi Shell is disabled for the security purpose on ESXi hosts. You can enable local and remote access to the shell if necessary. This article will introduce the how to list VMware VMs using commands and the useful ESXCLI command lines.

Tips: To reduce the risk of unauthorized access, it's recommended to enable the ESXi Shell for troubleshooting only.

VMware command line

How to list VMs using command line

As we mention, by default, ESXi Shell is disabled for local and remote access, so you should enable it first.

Enable SSH session with root access:

In VMware vSphere Client, navigate to Hosts and Clusters and select your ESXi host, then click Service >> Configure >> SSH. Click Start to launch the SSH server once.

Tips: On Windows, you can use PuTTY as an SSH client for running ESXi shell commands remotely.

VMware list VMs command line

Type the following command to get a list of all registered virtual, identified by their VMID, Display Name and path to the .vmx configuration file:

vim-cmd vmsvc/getallvms

VMware list VMs command line

In VMware, using this command is able to list all the virtual machines. Besides, there are some other useful commands used in VMware ESXi, please continue to read this page.

Updated: Useful ESXCLI commands you want to know

In the former part, I have introduced how to list virtual machines in VMware using commands. Then you may want to know some other useful command line. For example, how to list running VMs on ESXi, how to power off VM from ESXi command line, etc., how to get VM/host information directly.

✦ List running VMs on ESXi with commands          

You can easily list all running virtual machines on the host from a shell prompt without accessing GUI by typing the following command:

esxcli vm process list

List running VMs on ESXi with commands

The World ID can be used with other ESXCLI commands to carry out various tasks related to VMs.

✦ Power-off VM from ESXi ESXCLI command

The esxcli command can be used locally or remotely to power off a virtual machine running on ESXi 5.x or later.

Power off the virtual machine from the list by running this command:

esxcli vm process kill --type= [soft,hard,force] --world-id= WorldNumber

power off VMs command line

✦ Power on/off a virtual machine using ESXi command line utility vim-cmd

If you are using ESXi 4.x or later, you can also use these command line to power on/off a virtual machine:

1. List the inventory ID of the virtual machine with the command:

vim-cmd vmsvc/getallvms |grep

Note: The first (leftmost) column of the output shows the vmid.

2. Check the power state of the virtual machine with the command:

vim-cmd vmsvc/power.getstate

Power-on the virtual machine using ESXi command line:

vim-cmd vmsvc/power.on

Power-off the virtual machine with the command:

vim-cmd vmsvc/power.off

Related: Another useful ESXCLI command

#1: esxcli vm

Description: Lists virtual machines and shutting them down forcefully.

#2. esxcli system version get

Description: Returns the ESXi build and version numbers.

#3: esxcli system hostname get

Description: Returns the hostname, domain and FQDN for the host.

#4: esxcli system stats installtime get

Description: Returns the date and time of when ESXi was installed.

#5: esxcli hardware

Description: Hardware namespace. Used primarily for extracting information about the current system setup.

#6. esxcli network

Description: Network namespace for managing virtual networking including virtual switches and VMkernel network interfaces.

#7. esxcli system

Description: System monitoring and management command.

#8: esxcli storage vmfs extent list

Description: The command generates a list of extents for each volume as well as the corresponding device name to UUID mapping.

After knowing the VMware list VM command line and other useful commands, you can easily manage your virtual machines in VMware. However, for many users, it’s difficult to master so many command lines proficiently, and any human error may cause system or disk corruption, thus resulting in virtual machine data loss and enterprise financial damage.

So, in order to provide a secure insurance for your VMs, I suggest that you can make a virtual machine backup in your work routine.

Important: Protect VMware VM from security threats

Before making big changes, a backup of the virtual machine is needed, especially when using unfamiliar VMware commands, since it is likely to cause damage to your virtual machines. Here, I’d like to apply AOMEI Cyber Backup, a free VMware backup software, to provide continuous protections for virtual machines. With this professional tool, you can get the following benefits.

Support Free ESXi: AOMEI Cyber Backup supports both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
Secure VM backup: schedule VMware or Hyper-V virtual machine backups and perform hot backup to protect crucial data continuously without human errors.
Instant disaster recovery: instantly restore the whole virtual machine to the previous state or restore it to another host based on a few clicks.
Full compatibility: centrally manage VMs on VMware ESXi 6.0 and later versions, as well as Hyper-V in Windows 8/8.1/10/11, Windows Server/Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 and later versions.

Create a secure backup task that covers multiple ESXi VMs. You can click the following button to download the perpetual Free Edition:

Download FreewareVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

One quick virtual machine backup software

1. Bind Devices: Access to AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, navigate to Source Device >> VMware / Hyper-V to add a host. Take VMware as an example, you can Add vCenter or Standalone ESXi for VMs backup.

Add VMware ESXi host

2. Click Backup TaskCreate New Task to set up the backup task as you need.

  • Device Type: You can either create a VMware ESXi Backup or Hyper-V Backup.
  • Device: Select the VMs you want to backup on the host in one task.
  • Target: You can select to back up to a local path, or to a network path. Used paths will be saved in Favorite Storage for handy selection.
  • Schedule: You can schedule VM backup. Choose to perform full, differential or incremental backup, and automate execution daily, weekly or monthly according to the frequency you specified.

schedule VMware backup

3. Start Backup: Click Start Backup and select Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.

✎ In addition to the basic features, you can also upgrade to enjoy advanced functions:
✦ Batch VM backup: batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server or on standalone ESXi hosts.
✦ Backup Cleanup: You can specify a retention policy, and the old backup files that exceed the period will be automatically deleted.
✦ Restore to new location: If your original VM corrupts, you can easily restore VM to its previous place or to another datastore/host without any complicated configuration and reinstallation.


This article provides useful command line such as VMware list VM command line. Using VMware ESXi command is convenient to manage VMware virtual machines directly without GUI.

Meanwhile, when using ESXCLE command, you should prepare a VMware backup solution in case of VM data loss.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.