I use a VirtualBox Windows 7 guest in seamless mode on an Ubuntu 12.04 linux host running Gnome 3.

Under normal operation when VirtualBox is not running, pressing the Windows Key on the keyboard launches the Gnome activity panel.

When the Windows guest is running and is in the foreground, pressing the Windows Key opens the Windows menu inside the guest.

Is there anyway to configure it so that the Windows Key will be ignored by the guest, and passed through to the host?

2 Answers 2


Yes. Open the VirtualBox Manager window, and go to "File" menu, "Preferences" (Ctrl-G).

Under "Input", uncheck the box labeled "Auto Capture Keyboard". There is no need to restart the VM if it's running, so this can be changed "on the fly".

  • Is there any way to do this in reverse (i.e. from Host to Guest). I have an Arch Linux guest with a Ctrl+Alt+T combo mapped to terminator and I want that key combo to be forwarded from my host (windows 8) to my guest (Arch which has guest additions installed and working). I know this isn't strictly related to Ubuntu, but I would appreciate some help, I can't find anything.
    – Brandon
    Aug 6, 2013 at 17:31
  • Well, simplistically, you would just not check that checkbox, which is essentially the original problem. But there must be more to it than that. Normally, when the guest has the focus, that key combination would go to the guest, not the host. However, I never run in seamless mode, so perhaps there's a problem in that mode. Does it work if the guest is full screen? If in seamless mode, does it work if a guest app has focus? Aug 6, 2013 at 21:33
  • Yea but what I'm looking to do is - when in seamless mode - have a certain key combination forwarded from the host to the guest when a host window is focused. So if I'm in Chrome in Windows (the host) and I press Ctrl+Alt+T, I want Arch (the guest) to open terminator. I've looked into VBoxManage guestcontrol execute ... but it's exhibiting really wierd behavior. I'll end up opening another question on Super User probably because this is becoming more and more complicated.
    – Brandon
    Aug 7, 2013 at 19:40
  • From my experience, that's not something that would normally happen. The host knows nothing about the guest, and so won't forward anything to it. The only way would be to have an app running on the host to monitor all keystrokes. That could be done, although I don't know the VB API, but you or someone will need to write the app to run on the host. Aug 7, 2013 at 21:15

ubuntu-20.04 as host and windows-10 as guest here.

I have similar problem but solve in a different way. I leave my guest fullscreen in a empty workspace and use hot-corners to switch between workspaces (guest and host)


This are my steps:

cat workspace.next

CURRENT_WS=`wmctrl -d | grep \* | cut -d " " -f 1`
MAX_WS=`wmctrl -d | tail -n 1 | cut -d " " -f 1 `
if (( NEXT_WS > MAX_WS )); then
wmctrl -s $NEXT_WS

cat workspace.previous

CURRENT_WS=`wmctrl -d | grep \* | cut -d " " -f 1`
MAX_WS=`wmctrl -d | tail -n 1 | cut -d " " -f 1 `
if (( NEXT_WS < 0)); then
wmctrl -s $NEXT_WS

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