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Install VirtualBox Guest Additions on Windows 10

1699 28/08/2021

If you try to install the VirtualBox Guest Additions on Windows 10, you will either get an error message that they cannot be installed on this version of Windows or, if the message doesn’t appear, the installation will fail anyway. After I tried a couple of non-working suggestions from various forums, I finally succeeded.


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Michael Pietroforte

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor in chief of 4sysops. He has more than 35 years of experience in IT management and system administration.

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Update: Things are different with

Windows 10 build 9926 (January build)


On Oracle VirtualBox 4.3.16, you will get the following error message if you try to install the Guest Additions:

The VirtualBox Guest Additions cannot be installed on this version of Windows

In various forums, you will find the suggestions to install in Windows 8 compatibility mode or use the force parameter (VBoxWindowsAdditions.exe /force). The installation will then run through; however, after a reboot of the Windows 10 guest, the Guest Additions won’t work. In some cases, Windows 10 crashed and then booted into a black screen. I had to delete the VM, so be careful if you already invested some time in your installation. You had better create a snapshot before the installation.

After I installed VirtualBox 4.3.18, I was delighted to see that the above error message no longer showed up. However, the end result was essentially the same as with VirtualBox 4.3.16. The VirtualBox Guest Additions didn’t work.

A closer look at the crash revealed that the graphics driver is probably the culprit, which led me to the solution below.

Before you boot up the Windows 10 VM, ensure that

Enable 3D Acceleration


Enable 2D Video Acceleration

are unchecked on the Video tab of the VM’s display settings. (Note: I didn’t test whether 2D Video Acceleration would work. To be on the safe side, you should disable it.)

Disable 3D Acceleration in the VirtualBox VM settings

The suggestion from various forum users to install the Guest Additions in compatibility mode was good; however, you have to choose Windows 7 compatibility mode and not Windows 8 (and this is not the whole story, as you’ll see below). To do so, right-click the VBoxWindowsAdditions-amd64.exe (Windows 10 64-bit) or VBoxWindowsAdditions-x86.exe (Windows 10 32-bit) executables, and then select



Properties of VBoxWindowsAdditions-amd64.exe

On the Compatibility tab, check

Run this program in compatibility mode


and select

Windows 7


Windows 7 compatibility mode for VirtualBox Guest Additions

After you click


, the VirtualBox Guest Additions setup wizard will start. You can essentially always click


; however, one setting is crucial. You have to ensure Direct3D support will NOT be installed.

Disable Direct3D support

If you install without compatibility mode or in Windows 8 compatibility mode, you won’t get the option to uncheck Direct3D support. Subsequently, the installation will



Direct3D support can't be disabled without Windows 7 compatibility mode

At the end of the installation, you should see a dialog window that encourages you to reboot Windows. If you don’t see this message, and the VM just restarts, your installation most likely failed.

Absence of reboot dialog indicates installation failed

Unfortunately, not all features of the VirtualBox Guest Additions work after this procedure. Most notably, the Auto-resize Guest Display option (Host + G) can’t be used with Windows 10 Technical Preview and VirtualBox 4.3.18. However, most important for me is that copy/paste operations between guest and host and Shared Folders now work properly.

Before I found the solution, I planned to move back to VMware Workstation, but now I am undecided because $286 versus $0 is a strong argument for VirtualBox. In which environment are you testing software?


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