Running Windows 8 on VirtualBox with Additional Wide Screen Resolution


<update date=”March 2, 2012″>

A few comments left below indicating that this workaround works for Windows 8 Consumer Preview as well. I’ve just tried to load W8CP on Virtualbox and confirmed that the Guest additions are still not supported.  So this adds additional help to make the Windows 8 Consumer Preview look and work better in your VirtualBox.


Now that you can run Windows 8 Developer Preview on VirtualBox but since it’s not officially supported by VirtualBox yet you don’t have the “Guest additions” that add certain features to the virtual machine, one of which is the screen resolution. You only get to set up with 4:3 ration resolutions like 1024×768. While I believe it shouldn’t be a problem later on, you have a workaround to make Windows 8 work better with your own screen. Thanks to Mister Goodcat for this useful tip.

Let’s say I want to add an additional resolution 1366×768 to fit my widescreen to virtual machine “Windows 8 Preview” I just set up.

1. Run the command from Dos prompt window. Note that the name of the virtual machine is case sensitive.

C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox>VBoxManage setextradata “Windows 8 Preview” CustomVideoMode1 1366x768x32

2. Then power on the virtual machine. Go to the Screen Resolution, and voola.

image thumb96 - Running Windows 8 on VirtualBox with Additional Wide Screen Resolution

And that looks much better.

image thumb97 - Running Windows 8 on VirtualBox with Additional Wide Screen Resolution



  1. Very useful, thank you! But you have a few typos the correct example is:
    “C:Program FilesOracleVirtualBoxVBoxManage.exe” setextradata Windows 8 Preview CustomVideoMode1 1366x768x32

    •  The above is only of any use for a windows host surely? The reply two above works in Ubuntu 12.04 where Ubuntu is the host. :r:

  2. The following worked on my Macbook Air:

    /Applications/ setextradata “Windows-08” CustomVideoMode1 1440x900x32

    (“Windows-08” to be replaced by your machine’s name, you can get it via “VBoxManage list vms”)

    • Thanks! This worked for my MacBook Air also. I have an 11″ and the perfect resolution for me was 1360x630x32.

      Here is an extremely simplified explanation for how to do this:

      1. Quit VirtualBox, you do not want your virtual machine running yet

      2. Open the “Terminal” app on your Mac OS (this is mac’s command prompt software). You can just type “Terminal” in the spotlight and it will find it.

      3. When terminal opens, you will see a blank line of code that you can type after. It should be something such as your name for your laptop. Mine is “MyName’s-MacBook-Air:~ myname$” followed by a square-shaped gray cursor. Just start typing the following code right there where the gray cursor is.

      /Applications/ setextradata “Windows-08” CustomVideoMode1 1440x900x32

      Note: Change “Windows-08″ to whatever you named your virtual machine, and change the resolution to whatever works best for your screen. For my 11” macbook air 1360x630x32 was the best. I just tried a bunch of different numbers till I got the largest one that would fit.

      4. After you type the code, press enter. You will see another line of text pop up that is exactly the same as the first line of text that was there when you opened Terminal. This means it worked!

      5. Now open VirtualBox and start your Windows virtual machine. Right-click on the desktop and select “Screen Resolution”. In the drop-down menu, you should now see the exact size that you typed in the code in Terminal. Select that and click OK, then you’re done!

  3. Thank you for the hint!
    I was almost givin up testing the Windows 8 Cosnsumer Preview. Use in 4:3 break all the experience.

  4. This is great. Thanks!

    The command didn’t work with my virtual machine’s name. Instead I did this:

    1) “VBoxManage list vms”
    2) “C:Program FilesOracleVirtualBoxVBoxManage.exe” setextradata {VM ID obtained in the previous step} CustomVideoMode1 1366x768x32

    Worked like a charm! (See what I did there?) 🙂

  5. sorry but I don’t quite understand the steps, as simple as they are. can someone give a more detailed description, mainly what to type where? I can’t get anywhere with this

      • Kent, it’s not as simple as you think, because you mislead them by saying ‘open “dos” prompt’, the DOS it’s a total different and apart thing from COMMAND PROMPT.

        So, for those who doesn;t know how to do it, Start->Run type in CMD, press enter, navigate to the VBox folder, and then type in the command.

        Thanks for the article btw.

    • Seems step-to-tstep is needed…

      1) Press “Windows” + “R”.
      2) Type “cmd” and press “Enter” to get the prompt.
      3) Then type “cd” and press “Enter” to get “C:”.
      4) Type “C:Program FilesOracleVirtualBox” and press “Enter” (if running Windows x64).
      5) All last type “VBoxManage.exe setextradata “[exact name of your virtual machine]” CustomVideoMode1 [wanted resolution like 1920x1080x32]” and press “Enter”.
      6) Start your virtual machine and go to graphic option where the added resolution will be available.

      • When ever I type “C:Program FilesOracleVirtualBox” it just says ” ‘C:Program’ is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file”

  6. Hmm I tried the above commands thus:
    VBoxManage.exe setextradata “Win8” CustomVideoMode1 1280x720x32

    It still doesn’t seem to help as after booting win 8 consumer preview in virtualbox, I can’t see the 1280×720 resolution.
    A quick question, does this have anything to do with the cmd prompt not running with admin rights?

    PS Also tried the virtual machine identifier. Did not work for me.

  7. I have tried everything in this posting and all feedback- using the ID instead of the name- speech marks etc etc- nothing has added the desired resolution to the Windows8 options.

    I need 1280×720

    I have even located the xml settings file and can see that the entry has been made in here for CustomVideoMode1 but this appears to be ignored by VirtualBox.

    Anybody got any bright ideas what I can try now??

    Thank you.

  8. I have tried everything folks have suggested here but no luck.  When i run the command a new DOS box flashes up, something happens (i guess) but when i go to VirtualBox and look for the screen resolution… no dice.

    Whats worse, i have the Guest Additions installed but if i enable 3D acceleration, Windows 8 looks better with the right rez but the speed is astonishingly slow.

    Any ideas?

  9. I followed the instructions Franz gave,By the way Thank You for the step by step thats exactly what I needed as I’m not that experienced with command prompt. Everything worked for me except Step 4. What ended up working running Windows 7 Ultimate 64. was,
    (and make sure to include all spaces and all parenthesis) 

    At C: Type “C:Program FilesOracleVirtualBoxVBoxManage.exe” setextradata “Windows 8” CustomVideoMode1 1600x900x32   hit enter and your done. (Note ) Repalce Windows 8 with the name of your Virtual Machine,and it is case sensitive, (Note) Replace 1600x900x32 with your desired resolution. And Thanks again Franz                                             


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