How to Easily Add Users to Groups in Ubuntu

Ubuntu comes with a very simple “User Account” option that doesn’t really provide you with much options. If you are looking to add user to a group, such as adding yourself to the “vboxusers” group so you can enable the USB drive support in Virtualbox, you won’t be able to do so with any default application. Here is how you can add users to groups in Ubuntu.

1. Command Line

The first method is via the command line. To add a user to a group, open a terminal and type:

Replace the “group” with the group that you want to add to.

Replace the “username” with the name that you want to add to the group.

For example, to add the username “damien” to the group “vboxusers”, use the following command:

To remove a user from a group, you can use the following command:

Note: You have to specify the “Group” in the above command. Failure to do so will result in the removal of the user.

2. Gnome System Tools

If you prefer a GUI over the command line, you can make use of the gnome-system-tools app to add users to groups.

Once installed, launch the “Users and Groups” application.


Click the “Manage Group” button.

Scroll down to find the group that you want to add/remove user. Highlight it and click Properties.


Check/uncheck the username to add/remove users.


That’s it.

Damien Damien

Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.


  1. Thanks for the heads up. I am astounded that in 12.04 the system has been somehow “improved” by removing this option? What on earth are Canonical up to? I am a lot happier with Unity now that what existed in 11.04 but this kind of thing is just a pain and it is easy to see how new users are turned off Linux when this kind of functionality is not there to start with.

    In fact the error really exists in the initial install procedure for Virtualbox as it should offer to setup the vboxuser account for the user at the time of install the same as it should offer to download and install the Extensions pack. These kind of issues shouldn’t still be there after all this time.

    It is fine for those of us who have been using Linux now for years as we are aware that there are a number of “options” that if loaded and sorted will make the system just so but to new users they are left to ponder why doesn’t this system do this or that just like my previous OS did? It is possible because we all do it each time we do an install so why aren’t the distros at least offering simple add-ons similar to what you can do in Firefox to give them all the fruit?

    1. This feature was removed since 11.04 (or earlier, I can’t remember). The
      fact is that there is no consistency in every release. One app could be
      added in this release and removed in the next. It is very frustrating when
      your favorite default app that you have been using all the while is no
      longer available and you have to manually install it to get it back. It
      breaks the flow when you are upgrading from one version to another.

      Virtualbox is only one of the many apps that require you to manage users
      and group manually. I bet most newbie don’t even know what is “groups”, let
      alone managing them and adding themselves to the “group”.

    1. In Ubuntu, no users are the “administrators” or the “root” user by default.
      Users in the “sudo” group can use the “sudo” command to elevate the user
      status temporarily so they can update the system or install/remove
      application, but still, they are not “root” users, or “administrator” .

  2. Thank You! It saddens me to think that to make things eaiser for some unknown egghead we must suffer the lose of things that we have used and loved! Ubuntu Unity gets my thumbs down as an unusable piece of crap. It looks as if Ubuntu and Windows are both gearing up for the touchscreen era while abandoning us desktop users. Shame! I have used Linux since Slackware 1.0 and am unhappy with the course we appear to be on. I have built all my computers since 1976 and am a hardware Guru.

  3. Damien,
    Thanks a ton. I’ve been looking for this solution for a long while, and only today managed to lick the problem.
    I’m in total agreement about the loss of something that one is so comfortable with, upon ‘upgrading’ if you can call it that, to a newer version. Another wonderful program I used many versions ago, was Buoh , the comics reader. It would pull in for me comics from all the sites, and was a sight for sore eyes.
    I’m also quite put off with the Unity interface, and have changed to Gnome classic. I just hope we can continue using these kind of drop-down menu interfaces in the next LTS too.
    Once again, thanks a lot for your help in getting my USB device to work on the VM.
    12.04-1 user.

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