Complete Guide to Running Android in VirtualBox

There are plenty of reasons why you might want to take the latest version of Android for a spin on your desktop computer rather than your smartphone or tablet.

For starters, maybe that version of Android hasn’t arrived yet on your device, and you want to try it to see if you really want it. Or perhaps you want to test how certain apps and features work in the latest version of Android’s candy-coated operating systems.

We’ll show you here how to emulate Android using VirtualBox, giving you complete PC-based access to the mobile OS from the comfort and control of your desktop.

First, you’ll need to install VirtualBox and the latest Android-x86 ISO file from this handy database.

Once you’ve installed it, open VirtualBox and click “New’ to start creating a new virtual machine. Name it whatever you like, then it’s crucial for you to select “Linux” and “Other Linux (32-bit)” for the Type and Version of the OS.

run-android-in-virtualbox-setup

Allocate an appropriate amount of RAM to your Android OS. Depending on how much RAM you have on your PC, you should allocate at least 1GB, with 4GB pretty much guaranteeing that the OS will run super-fast.

On the next page opt to create a virtual hard disk, then on the following page leave it in the default VDI format. After that decide whether you want the virtual hard disk to have a fixed size, or whether you want to let it adjust its size dynamically to the size of your virtual machine.

run-android-in-virtualbox-create-virtual-hard-disk

On the “Create Virtual Hard Disk” page use the slider to decide the maximum amount of space you’re happy for your virtual disk to take up, then click “Create.”

With your virtual machine created, it’s time to install Android on it. From the VirtualBox man screen, click “Settings -> Storage,” then the little CD icon with the “+” icon on it, and click “Choose disk.” In the new window select the ISO for the Android image you just downloaded, Open, then select it from the “Storage Tree” list and click OK.

Click Start in the VirtualBox main menu, and you should get options to run Android-x86 without installation, or to install it, alongside a couple of other options. Choose the ‘Install’ option, then say ‘No’ when it asks if you want a GPT partition.

On the CMD-like screen that appears next, select the virtual disk that you just created (You should be able to recognize it based on its size,), then on the screen after that click through “New -> Primary -> Bootable -> Write.”

run-android-in-virtualbox-select-cmd

Type “yes” when prompted, and VirtualBox will create a partition for you. You can now select “Quit,” at which point you’ll be taken to a screen asking you to choose which partition to install Android to.

run-android-in-virtualbox-select-created-partition

Select the partition you just created, then select “ext4” for the filesystem.

run-android-in-virtualbox-select-ext4

Select “Yes” until formatting starts, then select “Yes” when asked if you want to install boot loader GRUB, and “Yes” to installing the /system directory as read-write. Android will now be installed to the partition that you created.

Once it’s installed, you’ll get the option to run Android through your virtual machine straight away. The next time you want to open Android in your new virtual machine, just open VirtualBox, select it, and click “Start.”

run-android-in-virtualbox-select-welcome-screen

VirtualBox has for a long time proven itself to be one of the most reliable ways to run different operating systems in a convenient little window in Windows (and other OSes, for that matter). While it’s not exactly optimized for gaming or other heavy-duty activities (BlueStacks is a better option for that.), it’s certainly a great way to test operating systems and even use them with most of their networking capabilities intact.

Image credit: modern laptop

179 comments

  1. Mark: It does. There are a couple of Android phones out with Intel processors in them, and I believe a few Android tablets as well. You still can’t run Windows apps on them.

  2. My screen blanks and the only way to get it back I’ve found is to send it the ACPI shutdown signal. Kinda freaky, but it works.

    • The screen blackout is because of the locking screen. I have a “Menu” button on my keyboard and pressing it will wake it up.

      • I also am having a problem getting it wake up…I have to turn it off also. What is the “menu” button on your keyboard?

      • Just click ACPI Shutdown and the lock screen will again appear back…go to settings and change display time

      • yeah…
        me too i’m having confusion too much.

        What are the keyboard shortcut while using this whatsapp under this android-virtualbox ?

    • Just click ACPI Shutdown and the lock screen will again appear back…go to settings and change display time

  3. I have no internet connection on the android x86 vm. A bit of google search I found that i need to configure virtual box with bridge connection which I did, but i internet connection i need configure proxy setting.

    Where can I find proxy setting for ethernet.?

    • I have no problem connecting to the web on the android vm, and I am using NAT in virtualbox. Are you running Android 4.3? what is the virtualbox version you are using?

      • I have no problem connecting to the web on the android vm, and I am using NAT in virtualbox. Are you running Android 4.3? what is the virtualbox version you are using?

    • As mentioned in the article, you need to disable the mouse integration feature. After that, click on the Android screen and you should see your mouse cursor.

    • from machine tab, click on disable mouse integration and take the mouse pointer inside the screen and click,you will ow get a new black mouse pointer :)

  4. I m using 4.3, wifi is not turning on from the settings menu.

    i want to connect my virtual android to my home wifi so that i simply share files between my virtual android and (host os /other devices) connected to same wifi network

    • You can try the Bridged connection in Virtuabox instead of the default NAT (I didn’t test it though, so I am not sure how it works). Under the NAT mode, the Android VM is auto-connected to the Web, even though the WiFi cannot be turned on.

      • I already tried Bridged connection , but in bridge connection AndroidVM didnt connect to web..

        Even though in NAT mode, android vm auto connected to web , but it didnt get any ip from my wireless modem

    • It won’t connect to WiFi because your _virtual_ machine doesn’t have emulated WiFi hardware – from the guest OS’ point of view there isn’t a WiFi device. Just like there isn’t a camera. Or a phone. It connects to the internet because VBox emulates a nic card – there is a virtual network card that the virtual OS can access. The virtual NIC is connected to your real network hardware by a software bridge.

  5. does it support USB key?? is there a filemanager??
    i havent wifi because i have an INTERNET KEY USB so i d like install app from apk
    thanks U 4 the guide

  6. Why some apps aren’t compatible with this build? When i try to download Path, it shows that the app is not compatible with this virtual machine.

    • folk it is bcause of less video memory and processor sharing :) in this case try Bluestacks App Player

  7. Thank you so much. Followed every single step. But when I switch off the”device” after configuration of Android and start it again, then it doesn’t boot Android. Instead, Everything starts again from your step 1 (Installing Android 4.3).
    Using Mac OSX Mountain Lion and the latest VirtualBox.

    • Storage
      Controler: IDE Secondary Slave [CD/DVD] android-x86……..
      Controler: SATA Port 0: Android 4.3.vmdk…..

  8. I tried installing Android in my PC using VirtualBox, but couldn’t; the process gets stocked with the message “Kernel Panic – not syncing: Attempted to kill the idle task! Rebooting in 60 seconds.” My PC is a *64 Windows 7. Please, what should I do to successfully complete the installation. Note I used the procedure on your article “Guide to run Android 4 in Virtual box. Thanks

    • Did you download the latest Android 4.3 build or an earlier version? The older version is buggy. Try out this new 4.3 build and let me know if it works for you.

      • Hi I tried the procedure but failed with the same error (Kernel Panic – not syncing: Attempted to kill the idle task! Rebooting in 60 seconds.”) . I used the latest 4.3 release. My PC is windows 7 64 bit.

        Any idea?

          • I am also having this same error message and I have done multiple installs and followed your directions. I also updated my VirtualBox to the latest version and reinstalled the Android 4.3 VM but that didn’t fix it. I am still getting the Kernel Panic error message.

          • Goto host system BIOS settings and enable option VT-x (Intel Virtualization) or AMD-V (AMD virtualization). Also you should have system support this virtualization :)

    • Try disabling your wireless on your host machine before trying to install on virtualbox. For a laptop you should have a function key to turn wireless adapter on or off, probably looks like a little antenna or something similar. After Android is installed you can turn it back on. I was getting same error until I did this.

  9. Maybe this will help somebody.
    During boot turn off network adapter (cable disconnected) and enable it after booting to android.
    If network adapter is enabled only black screen is displayed.

    • @sand: Good Tip!
      Just wanted to add, on the other hand, if you did decide to first enable the network adapter and you are seeing the black screen when you , then just press (ie Right Ctrl+H) which returns you to the home screen. Hope that helps somebody too.

      • yes, if you are experiencing = black screen, thus you need to which gets you back to home lock screen.. so you can properly install your (.apk) file from your {host} machine.

  10. Hi I am using the same version of virtualbox and andriod you are using but I cannot install andriod I followed every single step you told me this error comes(0.0000000) tsc: FAST TSC Calibration failed please help me

    • Android installs as a virtual machine, so it will open like an application within Windows.

  11. Thanks for the great tutorial. I have installed successfully Android 4.3. Problem is that my laptop touchscreen is not working properly in the Android. Swipe is OK touch to open is not working?

    • I don’t know if you can accomplish what you want here, but I find that hitting Left-Alt plus Left-Arrow brings me to a root terminal window. I should note that some linux utilities are NOT present, such as apt, so it might take creativity to accomplish what you want there.

  12. Hi,

    Thank you for the guide. I was able to successfully install android-x86 in my laptop. MY question now is how to transfer files between the host and guest client.

    I tried adding a generic USB and it works. It can be mounted but it is ready-only. Any suggestions on how I can write back into the mounted USB inside the guest android client?

    I also tried using shared folders but for some reason, it won’t mount.

    Thanks for any response.

  13. ^Same for me. I can’t get shared folders to work nor can I get my webcam to work on it. Even though I set it to the virtual machine, my webcam will light up for a second and then stop itself.

    Using the dev kit SDK I can set the webcam real easy, but you just can’t do anything with it.

  14. The most annoying the data I just wasted, but if you can remove this from this page so that nobody will waste his or her time, I really appreciate the information if not that it doesn’t work. If you find any solution, share it with us Thank you for your time.

  15. I remove the ISO after it boots fine the first time through the install. When it comes up the second time it will show the Android clock with a lock and then goes to a black screen.

  16. Using virtualbox v. 4.2.16 and android-x86-4.3-20130725.iso

    it does not ask me if i want to install /system directory as read-write. it instead asks me at that point, if i want it to create a save img of 512 mb or more. if i click yes, it gets to 100% then says failed to make img file, if i say no it says user data will not be saved. but it does say android is successfully installed.

    after it is installed i remove the iso file then use the reboot option and when it reboots it says “FATAL: Could not read from the boot medium! System halted.”

    I have spent a whole day being stopped by error after error.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  17. Has anyone tried to root (this or any 4.x version) and install virtualbox guest additions or compile dkms for the kernel then add modules?
    I’m looking for a solution to play android games on pc (high end games) so windroy and Bluestacks are not viable options.
    Angry birds and similar games are easy to find for browsers, windows, gnu/linux to play directly. Mostly interested for something like Demon Hunter 4, Iesabel, Soulcraft, etc. :)

    • In windows enable the sharing of the folder that you want to access. Then go to your network control panel, click on advanced setting (on the left) and make sure that password sharing is disabled (important point). Then in the VM install an app like ES File Explorer, go to the network section, make a scan and you should see your PC then you’ll open the folder.

  18. hi …process goes well until i reach the command prompt…i select install Android to hard disk but it returns to the same screen unsuccessfully …any help???

  19. Hey, i am using this on a HP Elitepad with virtualbox 4.3
    The only problem is the touchscreen has a huge offset. When i put my finger on the touchscreen it puts the mouse cursor half a mile to the right or left. Is there a way to fix this?

  20. I tried installing Android in my PC using VirtualBox, but couldn’t; the process gets stocked with the message “Kernel Panic – not syncing: Attempted to kill the idle task! Rebooting in 60 seconds.” downlonloaded the latest one u mentioned to download….

  21. After install, how to resize the default screen resolution. Its about half of my current laptop screen size of 11.6”. I suppose I should have installed Grub (I just bypassed it cause its not going to be a multi-boot partition), and perhaps that will affect screen resize? (For developers, I have a touchscreen Vivobook 202E, and it doesn’t work well (20%), as it does under Windows (98%), presumably because Android would need a driver for this specific screen.)

  22. PS: Managed to get some use from the touchscreen by sliding my fingernail accross buttons and icon rather than using my full fingertip. :) Now getting a good 90% usage from the screen.

  23. I installed a game (Hill climb racing.apk) after completion of installation any app it shows the message like (Unfortunately run Hill climb racing.apk )

  24. I installed android 4.3 on my virtual box, but gallery doesn’t open and gives error message “Unfortunately, Gallery has stopped working”

  25. Anyone who is not confident installing a virtual machine will be much happier using something like Bluestacks.

      • Any tips for this? I’ve got android 3.10 iso (4.3) running in virtualbox 4.3.10 with a plugable 4.0 bt dongle which virtualbox sees using a filter, but bt will not turn on.

  26. At last thank you. I have tried to install google play and other stuff to genymotion images but no way. This is faster and better. BTW I think it runs faster (I gave 2GB disk and 2GBs of RAM and 64MB of GPU to the image)

  27. i have done everything good but if i boot it it will stay on “android” screen and it won’t go to the Welcomee menu.

    Can someone help me ?

    btw, i use android 4.3 on my virtualbox

  28. Installed fine – thanks for the detail. Just one issue, whenever I start an app, it turns my “screen” sideways and I can’t get it to “right itself” so I can view without twisting my head to the side.

    Any suggestions? Thanks

  29. No go.

    Selecting “Installation – Install Android -x86 to hard disk” or “Run Android -x86 without installation” just flashes a black screen with some rapidly scrolling text, then returns to the same screen with:
    “Installation – Install Android -x86 to hard disk” etc…

    I followed all the steps exactly.

  30. It doesn’t work. Android hangs at “ANDROID” when booting. What should i do to remedy this ?

  31. “installation – Install Android -x86 to hard disk” or “Run Android -x86 without installation” just flashes a black screen scrolling text. At the end of the screen it says that “some program might be trying to access hardware directly”

  32. It wont save, I have to install again every time I open the VM. The partitions still there, so I don’t have to make a new partition every time, but I have to re-install every time I open the VM, and all of the apps I installed go away. It would be alot better if I could save my stuff and I was wondering if anyone here knew how to fix it.

  33. If I install android in virtualbox following your method , will it damage my windows7 ? and is it a dual boot ?

    • @Aditya Bhowmik It is a virtual machine and it won’t touch any of your base OS files and settings.

  34. is there any option to clear the problem with camera access…??
    i cant use skype and applications need camera access…i use it in lenovo g580 with integrated webcam.i had allocate enough RAM and Memory .
    1 GB RAM and 8GB MEMORY.
    using android 4.3
    plz answer…

  35. Hey,

    i’ve installed it like a thousand times, coz evrytime i reboot it just keeps on going back to the boot sequence..

    One more thing, i can’t seem to figure out the rotation of the screen. how do i manually override it so it would rotate when and where i want it to…

    thanks in advance

  36. When i start the virtual machine this error:
    FATAL:No bootable medium found!System halted.

  37. I have done this successfully, but when I run to play the “Brave Frontier ” that I downloaded from Google App Store, it couldnt work. it say’s report or ok. even i downloaded the facebook app, still not working too.

  38. Please let me know if you have any idea to run the Apps properly like , facebook, brave frontier etc, ,.. I look forward to your response. Thank you

  39. I installed android 4.3, and it won’t go past the “android screen” to the welcome screen ? I followed the steps exactly the way the were mentioned in the article. Please help

  40. Even games like subway surfer are showing force close
    What changes have to be made to avoid this

  41. if you get a kernel panic error, must update the Virtual Box to 4.3.10.
    then this works great.

  42. Using Virtualbox 4.3.8 and android-x86-4.3-20130725.iso or latest android-x86-4.4-RC1.iso
    Always getting the same Error “Kernel Panic – not syncing: Attempted to kill init! Rebooting in 60 seconds.” Either with Linux 2.6 32 or 64 bit.

    • did you m manage to fix it? same thing happens to me.
      i even changed bios to alow vt-x and still it doesnt work :(

  43. Failed to open a session for the virtual machine AMYS ANDROID 4.3.

    VT-x is disabled in the BIOS. (VERR_VMX_MSR_VMXON_DISABLED).

    Result Code: E_FAIL (0x80004005)
    Component: Console
    Interface: IConsole {8ab7c520-2442-4b66-8d74-4ff1e195d2b6}

    what do i do?

  44. I am on mac. I have downloaded all the files.. But installation process is not working..
    A shell window pooped up, Nothing is working. Please help ….

  45. This this was the first write up I have followed that actually worked. But. Just barely. I consider myself computer literate, and even I had to fill in the blanks where this write up skipped. Best example, the problem of the install screen each time I started. Someone in the comments said the correct fix, with the addition of ‘you forgot to un mount the media….’ um, no. It wasn’t IN the directions! As this bills itself as a COMPLETE guide, I have found the gaps irritating. It would be nice to see this re edited with the missing info added in.

    Honestly, thank you for the effort!

  46. hello!!
    I installed 4.4 on my computer and it was a success but when I tried to mount a shared folder with it, I couldn’t (permission not allowed) and even with the command sudo! So could someone help me and how can I have access within and istall an apps for example!!
    thanx!!

  47. Installed great and works well.

    Every time I restart virtualbox, I have to go through this whole setup process again. Is that normal? Is there a way to have it save the state so I don;t have to re-install android every time?

  48. Hi.
    Anyone who knows how to share files between android and the device running virtualbox?
    Thanks.

  49. Its stuck at the loading screen “android”………??? What will i do….???
    I enabled “Intel Virtualization Technology” but same thing again. :(

  50. Its struck at the Android loading screen After 15 minutes it was loaded but when i click on next nothing will happened and the error that it has stoped working what TO DO ANY BODY KNOWS? PLZ HELP ME :(

  51. Show the message when I press start button :”Cannot access the Kernel driver! Make sure the kernel module has been loaded successfully.”
    Then I’m not abble to run it.

  52. I followed all steps but while installing, it shoed an error
    “Installation failed! Please check if you have enough free disk space to install Android x86”

    What should I do ??
    I have allocated 16GB for Virtual Hard disk as fixed size.. Please help

  53. i downloaded the iso file for android 4.4.2 and insalled it in virtual box with 40 gig hd (vhd) and 4 gig ram, i gave the video card only 128 it seems like that max to give the video card, i also did activate the 3d function on the display settings but i cant seem to play games on the android vm, when i start the game it just tells me that it stopped working constantly, i thought that it was the os when i had the issues on the first android vm 4.2.2 but it still does the same on the 4.4.2, what did i miss. i actually are running two of the os one is the 4.4.2 rc1 and 4.4.2 rc2 witch have no actual diferences. i am running a i7 (8core)950 @ 3.07ghz with 16gig ram and a gforce 9800gt 1gig and a win 7 64bid os .. i am also running bluestacks with no problem.what i want to do is devide tha games between the android devices so that i can run multiple games at once on dif devices, i can not run bluestacks twice it seems, so i want to get a android vm up and run another game from there while bluestacks run another.. please email me on paulkr1973@gmail.com

  54. hi….im so sick looking how can i connect my virtual m android x86 4.3 to the internet….im using a wifi only…..so i want o connect it there……and its seems i have to configure it manually coz when i look up in nat settings no network or anything appears there and i try to look in settings theres no folder there…pls help me…..

  55. thank you sir its realy working,,, but i dont konw how to open usb drive on guest android os please help me sir

  56. Nice clear instructions.

    Question. I did go through the setup, including my username and link to google, and I see my user info in the settings, but I seem to have to go through the whole process of inputting it over again every time I enter the program. Is this normal, or did I forget to tick a box somewhere? Thx!

  57. i can’t run gallery and games app called “million arthur” (haven’t tried to download another app because of this) when i tried to open them, a notification appear, “Unfortunately Gallery has stopped”, the same for million arthur. is there any solution? i’m using the latest build of virtual box btw.

  58. Failed to open a session for the virtual machine Android 4.3.

    The virtual machine ‘Android 4.3’ has terminated unexpectedly during startup with exit code 1.

    Result Code: E_FAIL (0x80004005)
    Component: Machine
    Interface: IMachine {480cf695-2d8d-4256-9c7c-cce4184fa048}

  59. damien help i go to install and this comes up
    detecting android x86… after virtualbox reboots back to install screen
    how do i fix this problem

  60. Hi this works optimally so far, but I have a question about why some apps are not compatible with this device, such as Real Racing 3? I have set the video memory up but it still does not work.

    And just one more question, how can I make a better solution for gaming?

  61. Hello…………………has anyone given Remix OS a shot??? It says you have to install to FAT32, but it works fine with NTFS, and then also offers file browsing passthrough capabilities with Windows, and, like Android x86 you can install it to your hard drive, natively, and it even work with CAT5/LAN cable connection, as well as Wi-Fi.

  62. Hi! How can I get the full screen mode? Even when I put the Virtualbox on Full screen mode, Android don’t do it.
    (sorry for my poor English. I am from Brazil)

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