I do all of my development in virtual machines, which has numerous advantages. I've found that I like VM VirtualBox the best for this, and I love supporting free software.

But I can't get any work done without a minimum of two monitors, and I often use three or four. So naturally, my virtual machines all use multiple monitors as well. And since I'm focused entirely on my development work, I run everything maximized, filling my physical screens.

The problem comes when I want to return to my host desktop for whatever reason. VirtualBox treats each virtual monitor as a separate window, so I have to go to the top of each virtual desktop window, find the minimize button, and click it. When I want to restore the windows and get back to work, I have to click on each one individually. It might sound silly, but this wastes quite a bit of my time.

What I'd like to have is some way to minimize and restore all of the virtual desktop windows for a particular virtual machine at one time. Like, as a group. If you ask me, this should be VirtualBox's default behavior, but I haven't found any such option. Am I missing one? Or some kind of hotkey perhaps?

If not, perhaps there's something provided in the operating system that will do this. I'm running Windows 7 and the taskbar already groups all the windows together—is there a way to minimize and/or restore all windows in an application group?

And finally, if there isn't some mechanism built into the OS, can I install some type of extension/utility that will add this feature to Windows? Surely I'm not the first person to want "Minimize All" and "Restore All" options in their context menus…

Edit: I should mention that I already know about keyboard shortcuts like Win+M that minimize all open windows. I don't want that. I have other windows open besides those that belong to VirtualBox. I want those left alone. I want to minimize all open windows belonging to a particular application group, not all of them that are open on the desktop.

2 Answers 2


You might try to press & hold Shift + Ctrl, then right-click your virtual machine on your taskbar. Select Minimize All, and if you want to restore select Restore All.

You have to use your taskbar for this. So maybe in your case when all VM's are fullscreen you only need to minimize one so that you can use your taskbar :)

Edit: I noticed that when you press shift + ctrl, windows changes your keyboard layout. Check this out if that's also the case for you. Then you may want to change those shortcuts :)

  • Hmm yeah, that's exactly what I expected there to be. Not sure why they hid this under undiscoverable and obscure keyboard shortcuts. This works for me as long as the "manager" window is open. If that's closed and it's just full-screen virtual screens, the "Minimize All" option is disabled. I can't figure out why. Is that always disabled for maximized windows?
    – Cody Gray
    May 23, 2013 at 10:21
  • Hmm I can´t reproduce that. I don´t have VirtualBox, but any application I put to fullscreen displays all options for me. Can you check if this only happens to virtualbox screens or also to other applications?
    – Forza
    May 23, 2013 at 10:30
  • Looks like it works as advertised with Chrome, it's just VirtualBox that breaks it. They're probably doing something unusual when they make the virtual screens full-screen. Not sure what it is. Is there any keyboard shortcut for this feature?
    – Cody Gray
    May 23, 2013 at 10:38
  • If you only need to go to your desktop, try to set the focus to your host OS while using your virtual machines. Then, if you do not already see your taskbar, hit the windows key. Then hit winkey + M. That will bring you to your host OS desktop.
    – Forza
    May 23, 2013 at 10:47
  • SHIFT+CTRL (in host=windows) for restore works but I have same problem as OP. When I am full screen, I no longer see any Windows taskbar. I run Linux (KDE) full screen on 3 monitors.
    – Eric
    Aug 29, 2018 at 21:33

Autohotkey script: Minimize/Maximize toggle between host, and a VM using 3 displays.

Usage: press Alt-BackQuote (the key above the Tab key)

Note: when in the VM, you have to tap the HostKey first. A suggested improvement is NOT having to tap the hostkey first - can anyone improve this script?

if WinExist("ahk_exe VirtualBoxVM.exe")
        GroupAdd,WMP, ahk_exe VirtualBoxVM.exe
        if WinActive("ahk_exe VirtualBoxVM.exe")  {
            WinMinimize,ahk_group WMP
        else {
                GroupActivate,WMP ; I have 3 displays

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