I'm running the enterprise evaluation (Build 9200) of Win8 and VirtualBox 4.2.4 r81684 and my actual display is 1920x1200. When I use the host-F key to enter full screen mode, the best I can configure in Windows is 1600x1200 which is fine, but I'd rather get the whole screen in play rather than see a letter boxed OS.

First I tried running the Install Guest Additions but Windows didn't run any installers that I could see as described in the VirtualBox documentation.

I have allocated the maximum amount of RAM (256MB) to the Display Video Memory and don't see any way to load drivers after searching the VirtualBox documentation. I can enable or disable 3D and 2D Acceleration and these settings do not affect the outcome. I've set the monitor count at 1 and not enabled the Remote Display server. Since special things happen in each corner, Fitt's law is making it a pain to hit the targets for the corners to explore the UI whether I'm running the OS in a window or full screen.

Am I missing a setting somewhere in Windows or VirtualBox to fill in my true display resolution since it's not sensing it correctly? I'm open to hacking a driver file or other steps if needed to get the correct resolution set.

  • It sounds like you don't have the correct virtual display driver.
    – SLaks
    Oct 29, 2012 at 17:38
  • @SLaks Totally. The guest drivers are probably not instaled as described. I'm working through the process to tell the VB software where the ISO is located on my host and then find the CD on the desktop/explorer to run the installer and see if that helps.
    – bmike
    Oct 29, 2012 at 18:08
  • 1
    You can also simply disable the Mouse Integration (from the File menu). Then your cursor is restricted to the VM window until you release it with the host key. Oct 29, 2012 at 19:00
  • @OliverSalzburg - Now that is really going to come in handy when I'm not in full screen. ++
    – bmike
    Oct 29, 2012 at 19:18

11 Answers 11

  1. Close your virtual machine.

  2. Navigate to C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\.

  3. Hold Shift and right-click in the blank space of the window.

  4. Select Open Command Window Here.

  5. Type VBoxManage.exe setextradata "W8 VM NAME HERE" CustomVideoMode1 1920x1200x32.

  6. Restart your VM. Now you will be able to select 1920x1200 resolution.

  • This is probably an awesome way to install the drivers, but my host isn't on Windows so I can't run an .exe program from without the guest OS. I'm currently working through how to run the installer within the guest OS in hopes I just need the provided drivers.
    – bmike
    Oct 29, 2012 at 18:09
  • Very very nice solution i like the direct way Jan 5, 2013 at 18:25
  • 5
    @bmike I managed to get this running on OSX, using /Applications/VirtualBox.app/Contents/MacOs/VBoxManage setextradata "my vm name" CustomVideoModel1 1440x900x32. I'm expecting other 'nix OS's will have similar commands Nov 19, 2014 at 9:21
  • You're awesome! Death to the scrollbars!!
    – Gishu
    Feb 7, 2015 at 7:43
  • 1
    I'm on Ubuntu 15.10 and the above command was all I needed. From anywhere in terminal, I issued the VBoxManage command
    – KhoPhi
    Aug 8, 2015 at 22:33

With my setup, the installation of the Guest Additions by hand was required. Even requesting it from the UI didn't cause Win8 to see or run the installer.

Folks on a Windows host can use the steps here, but for someone on a non-windows host OS, you will need to drop the VBoxGuestAdditions.iso into the Virtual Media Manager so it gets mounted as an Optical disk.

In my case, it was located (as described) in /Applications/VirtualBox.app/Contents/MacOS

enter image description here From there, the shortest distance for me was to go to the desktop, then open the library folder in the bottom left, and navigate first to the computer (in the sidebar) and then to the Optical disk.

The installer itself ran correctly in Win 8 and prompted for a reboot. Once the guest OS rebooted entering full screen mode and waiting several moments for the drivers to scan the display did the trick. Win8 correctly adjusted things without any need to open the screen resolution Control Panel.

  • where do I get VBoxGuestAdditions disk or iso?
    – Incerteza
    Aug 10, 2014 at 16:35
  • @Alex /Applications/VirtualBox.app/Contents/MacOS
    – bmike
    Aug 11, 2014 at 18:15
  • 1
    If you're on a *nix system you can use the "locate" command to find it. e.g. "locate VBoxGuestAdditions"
    – Guy
    Mar 4, 2016 at 15:10

You need to ensure that the guest has sufficient video memory to go full screen. You might also want to enable 2D/3D acceleration. When there is enough, switching to fullscreen will work as usual. Settings:


  • 1
    Can you please expand on this by way of explaining the procedure to change it? That'll make it a much better answer.
    – user3463
    Oct 29, 2012 at 17:43
  • It turned out to be nothing to do with VRAM and all to do with drivers from the virtualization software package. Appreciate the bump, though.
    – bmike
    Oct 29, 2012 at 22:10
  • This was exactly the answer I needed! I imported a virtual machine that only had 8MB video memory set so was limiting the maximum resolution I could set in the virtualbox guest.
    – Cas
    Jul 16, 2016 at 15:31

Screen resoultion can be set manually by using the following virutalbox command

"c:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe" controlvm "%YOUR_V_HOST" setvideomodehint 1920 1200 32

This command takes effect immediately on a running guest

  • When I try this I get the error VBoxManage.exe: error: Code E_FAIL (0x80004005) - Unspecified error (extended info not available) VBoxManage.exe: error: Context: "LockMachine(a->session, LockType_Shared)" at line 101 of file VBoxManageControlVM.cpp
    – Luis Perez
    Sep 20, 2016 at 19:34
  • How can I address screens on Dual Screen mode?
    – Frank N
    Sep 4, 2021 at 11:48

VirtualBox fpr Mac OSX instructions:

Shutdown your VM, open terminal, find the name of your Virtual Machine and add as many custom resolutions as you want:

cd /Applications/VirtualBox.app/Contents/MacOS/
./VBoxManage list vms
./VBoxManage setextradata "Windows VM Name" CustomVideoMode1 1920x1080x32
./VBoxManage setextradata "Windows VM Name" CustomVideoMode2 1280x1024x32
./VBoxManage startvm "Windows VM Name"
  • 1
    Hey, I followed your instruction, but couldn't make it to work. I have also GuestAdditions installed, and running Windows guest in full size, but I can't get it better than 1280x800. I'm on Macbook pro retina host. Any ideas?
    – Ned
    Jul 1, 2015 at 18:31
  • When you go into the "Advanced Display Settings" in windows (search for 'resolution') are there any other options or just 1280x800?
    – notpeter
    Jul 1, 2015 at 20:00
  • Thanks, yes, if I go to Advanced Settings, there are other resolutions, but not the one that I specify in command. Hm, maybe command that I specified wasn't applied, although I didn't receive any error. Any other way to inspect whether command was successful or not?
    – Ned
    Jul 2, 2015 at 10:39
  • yes, I can confirm that command was executed correctly, I can see this CustomVideoMode1, when I list it with getextradata. However, this resolution doesn't show when I run VM.
    – Ned
    Jul 2, 2015 at 16:58
  • I have the same problem on my mac - I'am getting only 1280x800 Jul 28, 2015 at 12:13

Apart from installing the Guest Additions plugin, note that the maximun display size may be capped in VirtualBox general preferences panel:

enter image description here

Also, check autoResize option and VirtualBox will automatically set the display size as you resize or maximize the window.

  • Mine was set to automatic I changed it to "none" and ti worked. For some reason "automatic" restricted it to less than my host resolution. The CustomVideoMode1 thing didn't work for me at all. I was using VirtualBox 5.0.26r with Windows 10.
    – Luis Perez
    Sep 20, 2016 at 19:38

If you do not see the custom resolution in the display resolution menu inside Windows 8 after adding the CustomVideoMode then rollback the drivers. I just installed the guest additions a couple of days ago inside of Windows 8 and for some reason they do not recognize custom video modes. When I rolled back the video driver to the one before guest additions was installed I saw my custom resolution there. Hope this helps if anyone has that problem.

  • My problem wasn't so much a rollback of the drivers as the drivers didn't get installed and the failure message (or lack thereof) was not evident to me. This could help others, though.
    – bmike
    Feb 8, 2013 at 20:44

What to do, in more detail (if host is Windows 7):

  • Go to the start menu and open the control panel.
  • Select appearance and personalization.
  • Select display.
  • On the left side of the screen there will be more options, select adjust resolution.
  • Now there will be three selection box thingies. find the one that says resolution and look at what the setting is, mine was 1366x768, memorize that selection. or write it down.
  • Go and look at the top post on this page with the screenshots. Then do what that post tell you to, except for the command line part replace 1920x1200x32 with the number you got earlier, but make sure there is still a x32 at the end, so when you type the finished thing in the command prompt it should look like this:

    VBoxManage.exe setextradata "The guest OS here, including the quotes" CustomVideoMode1 ####x###x32

If it look like that, then click enter and start up your virtual machine.


Install Guest Addition in safe mode, it is a lot more complicated then needs to be to get to safe mode. follow instruction at how to geek.


after reboot I did go full screen (host + f), scale mode (host+c) full screen, both work as expected... seamless mode (host + l) while works, it does not work correctly, unable to access win 8 on screen features



If you still can't get it to work after following @Elmo's instructions, as in my case, go to View menu of the running virtual machine and click on Auto-resize Guest Display or just press Host+G. But you still have to do what @Elmo suggested first.


Sometimes, simple solution could be:

enter image description here

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