Guest Additions is designed to marry common tasks between the Guest and Host operating systems so that your life as a VirtualBox user is easier.
Let’s say you’re running Windows 7 on the computer that has the VirtualBox installation and you want to install a Windows 8.1 VM in VirtualBox with Guest Additions.
The Windows 7 computer is called the Host machine because all your VMs are running inside it. And the VMs are the Guest machines, in this case, Windows 8.1 is your Guest OS.
If this get’s confusing just imagine you were organizing a dinner party at home for your friends. You are the dinner host and your friends are the guests because they are inside your home. In the same way, your physical (real) PC is the Host and the virtual computers sitting around your dinner table are the Guests.
Benefits of Guest Additions
Guest Additions allows you to do a bunch of cool stuff.
For example, with Guest Additions, you no longer have to press funky key combinations to release the keyboard and mouse.
Without Guest Additions, you have to press the Host Key every time you want to liberate your mouse pointer from the VM. I have to press Ctrl + i on my Windows 7 Host OS every time I want to free the mouse; Guest Additions fixes this annoying problem.
In addition, you get Shared Folders. This is my favorite. With Shared Folders you can easily transfer files from the Host OS to the Guest OS and vice versa. The shared folders on the Host OS show up in the Network Locations of your Guest OS.
There are also a few other perks with Guest Additions such as having the Guest machines system time automatically synchronized with the Host. You’ll also get the ability to share the clipboard so you can copy and paste stuff between computers.
Installing Guest Additions
You might be flummoxed if you open VirtualBox, click Devices and go to Install Guest Additions…
That’s because there’s no visible indication that anything happened after you click Install Guest Additions.
Here’s what you need to do:
Open up My Computer either by pressing the Windows Key + e or clicking the File Explorer icon in the taskbar.
Double-click the VirtualBox Guest Additions drive and you’ll see all the files required to run Guest Additions.
If you’re running a 64bit version of Windows 8.1, choose VBoxWindowsAdditions-amd64; otherwise, choose the x86 (32bit) option. If you’re not sure what version you’re running you can easily enter a command at the command prompt to find out.
I’m running Windows 8.1 32bit so I chose the x86 option
Once you click the file the Guest Additions installation wizard will show up.
Pick your file location and click Next
The installation kicks off and completes in a matter of seconds.
Finish up and reboot
After the Guest OS returns, sign-in and click the tray in the bottom right corner to confirm it exists.
Now when you click the Devices menu in VirtualBox all the options for Shared Clipboard, Shared Folders and Drag ‘n’ Drop work!
Don’t you just love virtual machines?