I am running VirtualBox 4.1.4 on my Windows 7 laptop, running an Ubuntu 11.10 guest.

I would like to copy text from Ubuntu's terminal and paste it into a file on the Windows host. This doesn't work for some reason.

Any ideas?


11 Answers 11


Start your VM then install Virtualbox Guest Addition
You can find this option under "Devices" on virtual box 4.2 or you can follow the explanations at How do I install Guest Additions in a VirtualBox VM?

  • 4
    We have a how to for installing guest additions here on AU – Takkat Oct 28 '11 at 7:08
  • This CD image is not available anymore. – 71GA Sep 16 '12 at 18:55
  • 30
    also you need to enable the shared clipboard under Devices menu on the VM's toolbar. Devices > Shared Clipboard > [Host To Guest | Guest To Host | Bidirectional] – 10GritSandpaper Dec 16 '13 at 16:51
  • Do the same for Drag'n'Drop too – arun Dec 30 '17 at 2:14

Go to VirtualMachine's Settings->General->Advanced->Shared Clipboard (Bidirectional)

Reboot your virtual machine.

for me it solved the problem (it was set on Disabled), I had some machines working some not, so i checked settings in working ones they had bidirectional clipboard. Dont know if this was upgrade issue or... just double check your shared clipboard options.

Hope this helps someone.

VirtualBox V 4.1.20

  • 7
    how can i paste the text from window to ubuntu server? Ctrl + Shift + V does not help – Thai Tran Apr 28 '14 at 10:25
  • @ThaiTran I don't know of a way to do this directly. A decent workaround is to ssh into your server from a terminal emulator, and then just paste into the emulator. – Jack O'Connor Nov 14 '14 at 20:05
  • Worked without rebooting the virtual machine (virtualbox 5.0.14). – overthink Jan 26 '16 at 20:06
  • 1
    Using Virtual Box 5.0.18 and Ubuntu 14.04, the reboot is not required. The essential step is turning on the shared clipboard. – Mike Apr 29 '16 at 16:51
  • Do the same for Drag'n'Drop too – arun Dec 30 '17 at 2:14

I had to do four steps:

  1. Install Virtual Box extension pack in host
  2. Activate shared clipboard in menu
  3. Install Virtual Box guest extensions in ubuntu guest
    • sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-dkms virtualbox-guest-utils virtualbox-guest-x11
  4. Reboot virtual machine
  • That's what worked for me from ubuntu host to ubuntu guest, thanks ! – valkalon Oct 23 '16 at 10:42
  • step 3 was missing and worked for me – user674523 Apr 7 '17 at 9:01
  • 2
    Step #3 lead to boot jam on Ubuntu 17.10, where was previously installed guest additions via sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-additions-iso – Dee Dec 2 '17 at 19:26
  • yeah, It's worked but there is a step #4 - reboot VM. – Marcos Mar 11 '19 at 21:45
  • @Dee sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-additions-iso some how fixed my issue, thank you – Jason Liu Mar 10 '20 at 20:57

Did you install the required virtual box tools?? (the ones that you should install on guest operating system to gain smooth operation / interaction between the host and the guest)

  • Probably not. What tools should I install, and how? – Misha Moroshko Oct 28 '11 at 4:04
  • It is called "Guest additions" as @soekarmana answered. – Beniamin Oct 28 '11 at 8:04

You could use Pastebin.com if you have access to the Internet.

  • 4
    Or, alternatively, pastebin.ubuntu.com. – Knowledge Cube Oct 28 '11 at 4:33
  • A guest user cannot delete a paste? Just pasted some sensitive stuff and found out a second later it can't be deleted. Really frustrated! – Logan Yang Jan 3 '18 at 23:04

In VirtualBox 4.x:

Start the Ubuntu instance, then in the VirtualBox menu at the top of the running instance window, Machine > Settings..., Advanced tab, change Clipboard Sharing to Bidirectional. It's set to Disabled by default for some reason - not clear on why I'd ever want that.


The summary of "Main OS and Virtual OS Integration":

  1. Install Vbox Guest Additions
  2. Enable Shared Clipboard
  3. Enable Drag'n'Drop
  4. Enable Shared Folder (optional)

I marked some text from firefox and tried to paste it into a terminal and it didn't work. I had guest additions installed, and also enabled bidirectional copy and paste and it still didn't work, but now I found the reason.

Apparently when I marked the text in firefox, additional information is also stored like the font and style. The terminal can not interpret this, so it doesn't seem to accept it. I pasted the text into a plain text editor (notepad++ in my case) then selected the text again and copied it. Now when I pasted it into the terminal it worked.

So this can also be a reason why copy&paste doesn't work, even if everything is correctly setup.

Using VirtualBox 4.3.12 with Ubuntu 14.04 x64 as the guest.


in recent virtual box follow these instructions :

enter image description here


For VMWare 15, I had to pause / shutdown the machine and go to VM -> Settings -> Options tab -> Guest Isolation

From there you can check / uncheck Enable copy and pasteenter image description here


For some reason I was not able to copy from my WindowsXP VM in VirtualBox to Ubuntu. However, I solved the problem by enabling a shared folder.

You can do that by going to Devices > Shared Folders > Shared Folder Settings in the alt menu on the VM window. After you set up a folder in the host, you can access it inside the VM in My Network Places:

enter image description here

  • Tried all of the above nothing seem to work cut-n-paste, scrolling. I am using Win10 host, ubuntu 18.04 guest, VBox 6.1.1 – Sam-T Dec 14 '19 at 16:28

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