I am running Kali in VirtualBox (using a pre-made Kali VDI found on their website) on a Windows 10 host on my Dell XPS 13. Everything on the desktop is really tiny: the icons, the font, etc. I'm not sure how to increase the size given the confusing combination of settings:

  • VirtualBox resolution/scale setting for the VM
  • Kali resolution/scale setting
  • Windows 10 high DPI settings

I've changed the VirtualBox resolution, but that just makes the window larger/smaller. Are there common pitfalls about guest OS resolution?


  • I should specify that guest additions were installed prior to writing this post via VirtualBox's "install guest additions CD" feature. I am able to full-screen the VM, but the UI is still very tiny. By contrast, when I plug it into an external monitor the UI is much more readable.
  • I also changed the EXE properties to override high DPI behavior to use the application's scaling settings.
  • after you install the vbox guest tools, the VM should be able to detect the virtual hardware better, and should allow you to set better resolutions inside Kali. I do recommend full-screening or seamless mode for your VM, so its VBox external resolution, and Kali Internal resolution stay the same. Jun 5, 2021 at 22:26
  • So I'm guessing the detail you left out is that your notebook has a 4K display, correct? The answer is basically about whether you want high-quality font rendering in your VM or not.
    – Daniel B
    Jun 5, 2021 at 22:26
  • I did install guest additions prior to writing this post, and did full-screen. Unfortunately, the UI was still small afterwards. Thus far, the best solution has been to use VirtualBox -> View -> Display -> Scale to adjust the scale to 250%, though it still quite pixelated.
    – zbs
    Jun 7, 2021 at 15:39

1 Answer 1


You need to add VBOX guest extensions to the Kali machine. That should allow a range of resolutions to fit the machine to your screen.

I am posting this from a Kali 2021.2 machine with a resolution of 1265x800 (machine fits VMware window).

I am using VMware but the concept (Guest Extensions or VMware Tools) is about the same.

Guest extensions

kali@kali:~$ sudo apt update ... 
kali@kali:~$ sudo apt  install -y --reinstall virtualbox-guest-x11 ... 
kali@kali:~$ sudo reboot -f 

I am running Kali in VirtualBox (using a pre-made Kali VDI found on their website)

Followup Alternative Approach:

You may be wiser to download the Kali ISO (Full ISO). Then make your Kali machine from that. The installation may install the Guest Extensions properly.

I did this and I recommend it as better approach.

  • I believe the guest additions isn't available in any repository, one needs to download the file from the virtualbox website; read instructions there maybe?
    – Hannu
    Jun 5, 2021 at 22:19
  • @Hannu, correct, for vbox gui systems, you definitely need the right pairing of vbox version to tools versions. for cli servers on vmware, the open-vm-tools package is generally sufficient, IME, but for vbox desktops, I always install the new version of vbox, install its extensions pack, and then install the vmtools in each VM. Jun 5, 2021 at 22:23
  • I usually install the Linux system from the download ISO and guest tools get installed that way. @ Zach Silversmith look through the Kali Website for more information on Vbox Extensions. There is not any Kali documentation on the Oracle VBOX site that I can see. You may wish to build your own Kali system from the ISO download - not prebuilt.
    – John
    Jun 5, 2021 at 22:29
  • Thank you all for the suggestions. I used VirtualBox's "install guest additions CD", and while the VM can now go full-screen, the UI remains small. As mentioned in an earlier comment, using VirtualBox's scale feature to scale to 250% has enlarged the UI, at the cost of some pixelation. Perhaps builidng from scratch will help me avoid some of these issues, given that some of the virtual display drivers are pre-packaged into the VDI import
    – zbs
    Jun 7, 2021 at 15:41
  • You may wish to try VMware Workstation. I use this and video works fine for me.
    – John
    Jun 7, 2021 at 18:23

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