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?

  • Note that if you have "Locate pointer" enabled (highlights your pointer when you fit Ctrl), there is a bug in 12.04 that prevents this from working. Switch off "Locate pointer" and it will work. See bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/gnome-settings-daemon/+bug/…
    – lofidevops
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 11:49
  • I believe @d3vid is talking about the "Locate pointer" setting in Ubuntu, not in Windows. In Ubuntu 14.04, this setting is found under gnome-tweak-tool; see askubuntu.com/a/425498/159361
    – LarsH
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 19:11
  • Sadly stackexchange doesn't seem to allow me to post an answer since I haven't earn 10 reputation yet... So I'm posting a quick answer here: 1/ On Windows install Git Bash 2/ On virtual box, add a port forwarding on host IP ::1 and port 2222 to the guest IP and port 22 3/ Start the VM 4/ With Git Bash connect to the VM ssh user@localhost -p 2222 5/ Use the VM through Git Bash where you can copy/past everything you want
    – amanteaux
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 13:10

11 Answers 11


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
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 10:25
  • 1
    @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. Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 20:05
  • Worked without rebooting the virtual machine (virtualbox 5.0.14).
    – overthink
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 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
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 16:51
  • 1
    Do the same for Drag'n'Drop too
    – arun
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 2:14

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
    Commented Oct 28, 2011 at 7:08
  • This CD image is not available anymore.
    – 71GA
    Commented Sep 16, 2012 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] Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 16:51
  • Do the same for Drag'n'Drop too
    – arun
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 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
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 10:42
  • step 3 was missing and worked for me
    – user674523
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 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
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 19:26
  • yeah, It's worked but there is a step #4 - reboot VM.
    – Marcos
    Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 21:45
  • 1
    @Dee sudo apt-get install virtualbox-guest-additions-iso some how fixed my issue, thank you
    – Jason Liu
    Commented Mar 10, 2020 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? Commented Oct 28, 2011 at 4:04
  • It is called "Guest additions" as @soekarmana answered.
    – Beniamin
    Commented Oct 28, 2011 at 8:04

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

  • 4
    Or, alternatively, pastebin.ubuntu.com. Commented Oct 28, 2011 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
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 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
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 16:28

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