In VirtualBox, Ubuntu guest, Windows 7 host, I click this "Auto-mount" box, but it doesn't seem to have any effect. I have to edit
fstab to get it to mount. So what is it for?
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You can find information on that in the VirtualBox Manual,
Maybe your user is not in the vboxsf user group, maybe you didn't look correctly where to find it. Are you sure you installed the latest guest additions?
You can check all that, but you can refer to the manual for details if it helps.