Copy And Paste Between VirtualBox Host And Guest Machines

Here’s something many of you probably already know. VirtualBox has a feature that allows you to copy and paste between the host machine and the guest machine or vice versa. If you don’t already know, this brief tutorial is going to show you how to enable it when using VirtualBox virtualization software.

Another thing you probably already know is when you first install VirtualBox guest machine, the guest machine will not automatically integrate with the host. That means taking advantage of the host resources and improved performance. To allow the integration, you must install VirtualBox guest additions.

Installing the guest additions software will also not automatically allow you to copy and paste between machines. To enable that you must allow bidirectional shared clipboard on each machine.

Without the shared clipboard feature enabled, you won’t be able to copy and paste between the host and the guest machines. This feature will come in handy especially if you’ll be enter a lot of text or data into the guest machine from the host.

Instead of manually typing each character or enter data manually, you could simply select the text from the host and paste it into the guest machine and vice versa.

To enable it, open VirtualBox and select the guest machine, then click the settings button or press Ctrl + S on your keyboard.




Next, on the General page, select Advanced tab and make sure bidirectional is selected for Shared Clipboard as well as Drag’n’Drop options.




That’s it! When you log back into the guest machine, you should be able to copy text from the host machine to the guest easily. The Drag’n’Drop option lets you select a whole data file from the host to the guest or vice versa.

Enjoy! And please keep coming back for more tutorials.

38 thoughts on “Copy And Paste Between VirtualBox Host And Guest Machines”

  1. Agreed, this feature simply doesn’t work, at least on 4.3.10 and pasting between Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008.

  2. So I aked them what to do because it doesn’t work. They said I should install Guest Additions. WHERE THE HELL ARE THAT GUEST ADDITIONS!?
    Host:Windows 8.1 Enterprise 64 bit
    Guest:Windows Xp Professional 32 bit and Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit

  3. No, I didn’t already know, I searched for this not believing it, and was glad to find there was a solution for copy and oaste. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Hey Guys i found the issue :
    You need to Install
    “Guest Additions” , In order to do that : turn on the virtual machine then go to Devices Tab Then The last option “Insert Guest Additions CD Image” click it and keep pressing next then reboot the machine then it will work :)

  5. Only text copy works for me with both clipboard and drag’n’drop set to bi-directional.
    Copying entire files does not work
    Win 7 Pro 64 Win 7 Pro 64

  6. You have to make a shared folder to move documents and files.

    Oracle VM virtualbox manager> select your system > settings>shared folders>add a new shared folder definition> folder path> select other> select desktop> start your system> my computer> Network> VBOXSVR> enjoy !

  7. There are other areas that need to be looked at, if it is still not working. The following worked for me
    (Version 4.3.4) Locate your VirtualBox Guest Additions (it was my D drive) and execute the VBoxWindowsAdditions. Go through the prompts, which will result in a reboot.

    After that I had to disable and enable it from DEVICES->Shared clipboard and voila it worked.

  8. you rocks guyyysss..
    thanks so much. it hard to find basic tab in general.
    hehe.. with image from your tutor, i can copy and paste from both.
    my mac to windows in virtual box :D …
    im new in macbook :D
    thanks thanks thanks…

  9. Hey Thanks for the information. I tried but it did not work. I hosted UBuntu VM on MAC machine. But finally I could achieve my motive using shared folders concept.

  10. Hi all,

    Instructions for copy pasting from windows to virtual box:
    1. Go to the console in the virtual box and type: ps aux | grep clipboard
    Find the two processes of /usr/bin/VBoxClient –clipboard
    2. Kill both processes.
    3. Type: VBoxClient –clipboard
    4. Done, copy paste and be happy ?

    1. I tried this but it didn’t work. I am a very new user and I think I must be doing something wrong. When I try to use the kill command on what appears to be the PID from grep I just get a “-no such process” error
      when I try “#pidof clipboard” I get nothing
      What am I doing wrong?

  11. I have Ubuntu VM accessing from Windows7. For me it works this way:
    After you have a shared folder added as described above, df in Ubuntu terminal shows the shared folder mounted. You can execute a sudo cp to the mounted folder (like /media/ and it should work.

  12. It’s not working for me. I had to use ssh finally. It is a much better way of using the vbox centos image for me.

  13. All VM’s suck it’s not just VBOX, the closest thing to a real physically installed OS so far is by using QEMU. Also QEMU is probably the only VM/Emulator capable of assigning physical addressing of memory and processor and graphics that isn’t virtually addressed. Meaning you can run any OS near physically installed on OS. There is one quirk to using QEMU though, its shit hard to learn but if you can get passed that then running games close native speeds is possible under a VM environment.

    As for those having clipboard problems with VBOX if you have internet working in your VM environment then try using an FTP client between guest and host.

  14. Hey, this worked like a charm. I had already installed Guest Additions before trying this. Thanks for the quick tip.

    Have a great one!

  15. I’m still stuck. I used the default LINUX RH in the VisualBox and the host is Mac Pro. Can anyone just suggest clearly how can I fix the problem to copy and past between the OSs?

  16. I’ve a window7 host and xp guest in vm.
    Shared feature works well in both directions but drag n drop option disappoint me it doesn’t work in vm environment if you guys any suggestion about this problem please share freely with me. I will so thankfull to you.

Leave a Reply