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.
Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)

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

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 and 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

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.

Properties of VBoxWindowsAdditions-amd64.exe

Properties of VBoxWindowsAdditions-amd64.exe

On the Compatibility tab, check Run this program in compatibility mode for and select Windows 7.

Windows 7 Compatibility Mode for VirtualBox Guest Additions

Windows 7 compatibility mode for VirtualBox Guest Additions

After you click OK, the VirtualBox Guest Additions setup wizard will start. You can essentially always click Next; however, one setting is crucial. You have to ensure Direct3D support will NOT be installed.

Disable Direct3D support

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 fail!

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

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

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?

15 Comments
  1. Terry Peterson 7 years ago

    Thanks for posting this tip Michael! I see that it effectively does not install the Oracle video driver and keeps the MSFT "basic" driver instead. After the Guest Additions installation, I (took a snapshot and then) went to the video adapter properties and manually installed the Oracle one and found that Windows couldn't boot. Time to revert to the snapshot. I hope that Oracle updates the Guest Additions video driver so that we can get full HD desktops in the Preview.

  2. Yes, I think if you force the video driver to be installed, you'll end up with a black screen after rebooting. Let's hope that Oracle will release a new VirtualBox version that supports Windows 10 soon.

  3. Miguel 7 years ago

    Thanks, I did think it had to do with the graphics driver because that's where it always crashed, but didn't know how to do it. Great help.

  4. Miguel, it's interesting that many people in the forums didn't recognize that Windows 10 crashed and thought it just rebooted after the installation.

  5. Jan 7 years ago

    Clipboard sharing works, but nothing else. The VirtualBox graphical driver doesn't fully work so - as you mentioned - forget about full screen mode. What was a deal breaker for me was the lack of USB devices support. This part of GuestAdditions doesn't work either. Both issues are related to incompatible GuesAdditions drivers, so Oracle is bound to fix them if you can afford to wait.

    In case someone is interested Vmware Player allowed me access USB devices after switching from USB 3.0 compatibility to USB 2.0, full screen mode work without tinkering. Obviously not for commercial use, but I just need access to USB for research reasons. This suggests Vmware Workstation should handle USB devices properly too.

  6. Yeah, it seems VMware is faster with new Windows version. The question is if this justifies the hefty price tag.

  7. Diego 7 years ago

    For those having problems not being able to use fullscreen mode, a work-around is to enable your host's resolution inside the guest VM. To do it, in the HOST machine (i.e. NOT the VM) go to this path:

    C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\

    and run this command :

    VBoxManage.exe setextradata "W8 VM NAME HERE" CustomVideoMode1 1920x1080x32

    (set your desired resolution, and the name of your VM (including the quotes) ),
    run it, and restart the VM.

    that will enable such resolution, and makes it available when choosing res inside the VM, and if it matches your host's, you can effectively use it as full-sized full screen.

    I didn't discovered this, so the credit goes to the OP in here: http://superuser.com/a/495684/152803

  8. Terry Peterson 7 years ago

    @Diego--

    Thank you for posting this tip!!!

  9. Ihsan 6 years ago

    Thank you. It solved my problems with Windows Server 2012 R2. I had performance issues. Windows Server 2012 R2 is running now much better without Direct3D Support.

  10. d 6 years ago

    Thank you so much, you saved my life!

  11. CK 6 years ago

    Hi, Micheal, I tried this step for my windows 7 host machine, I have Vbox installed and Centos 7 installed as the guest. I got a message that my centos 7 is inaccessible so I downloaded the Vbox guest additions and got an error message that set up not completed unsuccessfully, I followed these steps to and made the Vboxwindowsadditions, Vboxwindowsadditions -amd64 and Vboxwindowsadditions-x86 compatible with my windows 7 but I still get the error when I try to re-install Vbox additions guest additions 4.3.36. Please what else can I do to resolve this

  12. Mahesh 3 years ago

    still the same error... This didn't work

  13. Author

    This post is 4 years old and things probably have changed since then. I can only recommend to search the event log for error messages and then draw your conclusions.

  14. Upeksha 2 years ago

    I am stuck on installing Guest Addition CD image when I go to the devices and click on insert Guest addition CD image, that will not pop up any message on my VM. What will be the issue for that? I restarted VBox and VM, still the same issue, Please help me install this.

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