How To 

How do I install VirtualBox Guest Additions on Windows 7?

What is VirtualBox? VirtualBox is a virtualization software that allows one to run an operating system while simultaneously running their main operating system. Simply said, you can have Windows XP running at the same time on your Windows 7 desktop. This is not to be confused with dual booting, which involves having both operating systems installed on the system, and only having one operating system running at once. The OS is generally virtualized (or simply emulated), and is called the guest. The host machine, the OS that you are using to run VirtualBox, emulates the guest machine. This setup is used to concurrent run two or more operating systems without having to switch between computers or operating systems on the same system.

What is VirtualBox Guest Additions? VirtualBox Guest Additions is extra software that can be installed inside the OS running inside of the virtual machine,at or the guest machine. While VirtualBox generally does a good job of running the guest OS, it has some limitations. VirtualBox Guest Additions is software that makes up for those deficiencies and adds additional integration features, such as the infamous Seamless mode offered by VirtualBox. Even Windows Aero works nicely on Linux, thanks to VirtualBox Guest Additions!

That said, let's get started!

We need the following:

  • VirtualBox, latest version. You can get the latest release here.
    Fresh install of Windows 7, any version, inside the guest machine. Any install configuration will work as long as it is a fresh install, and Windows 7 can boot.
    A graphics card capable of handling Windows Aero, plus any features for any software that will be run on Windows 7. Since the support depends on your hardware, poor graphics hardware will not be able to run Windows Aero.

Important note: Although Aero may work, it's quite possible that other 3D apps may not work, and even crash the guest virtual machine. Your mileage may vary!

That said, let's get started!

(Note: The screenshots below were taken on Linux. Things should be pretty much the same as on other operating systems, but there may be slight differences depending on your software and hardware configuration.)

1) Boot up your guest virtual machine.
Boot up your guest virtual machine to the desktop.

2) In the VirtualBox menu, click Devices > Insert Guest Additions CD image....

3) In a moment, a box should pop up asking you about the VirtualBox Guest Additions CD. Click Run VBoxWindowsAdditions.exe.

4) In the box that pops up, click Yes.

5) You should now see the setup wizard. Click Next > and accept any license agreement(s) that follow.

6) You should now be at the install location part. Click Next > to accept the default location.

7) You should now be at the component selection part.
If you wish to enable 3D hardware acceleration, continue. Otherwise, skip to step 8.


To enable 3D hardware acceleration, check the box labeled Direct3D Support (Experimental).

You should now see a confirmation dialog.

If you want to enable Windows Aero and some advanced features (such as graphics shaders), click No.
You will then see the following dialog:

If not, click Yes. You will then be prompted to restart into safe mode. Restart into safe mode, and redo the above steps.
(The rest of the tutorial assumes that advanced graphics support is enabled.)

8) Once done, click Install.


9) During the installation, you may receive device driver installation dialogs. Click Install for all of them.

10) Allow it to reboot immediately - simply click Finish.

11) Now VirtualBox Guest Additions should be installed. If you did not enable advanced 3D hardware acceleration, you're done! Otherwise, continue on!

12) Close (turn off) the guest virtual machine, and edit its settings. Under the display category, make the following changes:

  • ■Ensure that the video memory is at least 128 MBs, if not more. We chose 256 MBs, the max. You can adjust based on your usage.
    ■Check the box labeled Enable 3D Acceleration.

13) Turn on the guest virtual machine again. Right click on the desktop and select Personalization.

14) Click on the Windows 7 theme under Aero Themes.

15) Now Windows Aero should be enabled!

Your Windows 7 is now ready to go! Hopefully you learned a bit from this tutorial, and enjoy your VirtualBox Guest Addition enhanced Windows 7!