How to fix copy and paste (clipboard) problem on Windows Guest VirtualBox

How-To

The program VirtualBox is used to create Virtual Machines (VM) and run different operating systems inside our PC. For example, if we have installed Ubuntu on our computer, we will be able to launch a Virtual Machine and run a Windows Operating System inside of it.

One of the advantages that virtual machines have, is that we will be able to easily share information between the Main PC (Host) and the Virtual PC (Guest). For example, we will be able to copy files from one machine to another, or even copy and paste the contents of the clipboard from one machine to the other.

The latter function is often problematic in the host virtual machines that runs a Windows O.S.. It's common that the copy and paste function between Host and Guest does not work in none of the cases (host- > guest, guest- > host). This problem may be due to several reasons, but sometimes the shared clipboard simply works randomly, that is to say, a few times it works correctly and others do not. This can be quite annoying, as when we start the virtual machine, we do not know if we'll be able to make use of the function of copy and paste between machines.

There is a simple solution to this issue that ensure that the guest virtual machine (Windows), always will have the shared clipboard working properly. To do this, first of all we must be sure that we have installed the Guest Additions in the guest machine (Windows). If we don't have it installed, we need to go to “Devices->Install Guest Additions”, and once we've done that, we must go to the CD drive of the virtual machine, and run “VboxWindowsAdditions.exe”.

Steps to follow to fix the problem of the shared clipboard

  1. The first thing is to enable the shared clipboard (in the case that is not enabled): “Devices-> Shared Clipboard-> Bidirectional

  2. Now in the guest machine (Windows), open our favorite file explorer (we recommend Total Commander), and we're going to, “C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox Guest Additions\”.

  3. We click with the right button of the mouse on the file “VboxTray.exe”, and on the context menu we chose “Send-> Desktop (create shortcut)”. This will create a shortcut on the desktop that will be useful for the next step.

  4. Check if the shortcut has been created on desktop.

  5. Click the Windows “Start” button, and press the right button of the mouse on: “Program->Start”, it opens a contextual menu where we choose the “Open” option.

  6. A folder that contains the programs that are executed at Windows start will be opened.

  7. Now we just need to drag the “VboxTray.exe” shortcut that we have created on the desktop, and copy it into the “Start” folder. In such a way that the “VboxTray.exe” shortcut will be copied to that folder, and therefore will ensure that this program will be launched at Windows start up.

  8. Restart the Computer and verify that you can use the function of shared clipboard in both directions.

These simple steps serve to ensure that the guest Windows Virtual Machine will always have the shared clipboard working, whether if we copy from the host, or if we copy from the guest machine.