VirtualBox is fantastic software, especially for developers, but it doesn’t quite have everything out of the box. You may run into performance problems, and the integration with the underlying operating system (known as the “host” OS) isn’t great. There are some other issues you can run into as well.
Fortunately, you can fix this, depending on the virtualized operating system (known as the “guest” OS) you’re running. You can do this by using a series of add-ons known as Guest Additions.
What Are VirtualBox Guest Additions?
The VirtualBox Guess Additions are a collection of drivers and apps that make running certain guest operating systems smoother. This can get you improved graphics performance but can also integrate the guest OS with your system better. This includes better mouse pointer integration, cut and paste across operating systems, and drag and drop.
With Windows, you can even run apps from the guest operating system alongside your standard apps. This is great if you need to run a certain version of an app that works better in VirtualBox.
The VirtualBox Guest Additions support Windows and Linux. This includes multiple versions of Linux, but we can’t guarantee they’ll run on every single distribution. Even if the Guest Additions install properly, you can’t necessarily count on every possible feature working correctly.
Unfortunately, macOS isn’t currently supported, nor does support seem like it’s coming anytime soon. To clarify, the additions aren’t supported in macOS guests. You can use the Guest Additions on macOS with Windows or Linux guests without issue.
Install Guest Additions on Windows Guests
Once you have Windows running inside VirtualBox, go to the menu bar, then choose the Devices menu. Here, scroll down and choose “Insert Guest Additions CD Image.”
Open My Computer or My PC. You may see the Guest Additions CD in the menu on the left. If you don’t, click on This PC, and you should see it. Double-click the CD, then double-click “VBoxWindowsAdditions.” Here, follow the prompts to install Guest Additions.
Install Guest Additions on Linux Guests
Before you start on Linux, you’ll want to make sure you have your basic build tools and kernel headers installed. You can consult the documentation available for your distribution to see how to do this.
In the VirtualBox menu bar, go to the Device menu, then choose “Insert Guest Additions CD Image.” You should see the disc icon appear on your desktop.
You may get a pop-up prompting you to run the CD. If not, double-click the CD icon, and it should run. The terminal will launch. Follow the prompts to complete the installation.
Your guest operating systems should run more smoothly and without issue. Just remember that if you’re running an operating system other than Windows or Linux, these Guest Additions won’t do you any good.
Even with Guest Additions installed, you still may run into certain problems. Running Ubuntu as a guest, for example, you may run into issues where either Ubuntu or VirtualBox freeze. The good news is that we can help there. Take a look at our guide showing you how to fix Ubuntu freezing in VirtualBox. `