Enable Aero in VirtualBox for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8

If you installed Windows 7, Windows Vista, and even Windows 8 in VirtualBox you are probably missing the Aero glass feature. Your Windows will have the default Windows XP look, or Windows 7 basic, because of the limitations set on the virtual machine. Without the Aero glass Windows looks kind of outdated, only back to the Windows classic days. Even though Aero doesn’t really do anything, for me that is, having it enabled does make Windows look more appealing. If you want Aero on your Windows virtual machine, here are a few tricks to enable Aero in VirtualBox for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Enable Aero in VirtualBox for Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 on a Mac

If you installed Windows on your Mac and want Aero features, follow the steps below to enable the awesome Aero glass. If you are completely new to VirtualBox check out our VirtualBox how to articles.

First open VirtualBox from your applications folder. Then right click on the virtual machine to get the right click content menu and select Settings from there.

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Next go to the Display tab and check the check boxes for Enable 3D Acceleration and Enable 2D Video Acceleration. Also increase the Video Memory. We are going to use 256 MB instead of the default. Click OK when you are done.

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Then start your virtual machine. You should be able to enable Aero features now by right clicking on the desktop and selecting Personalize form the right click menu.

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Next click on one of the Aero Themes to enable it.

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If that did not work you will need to install the guest additions for your Windows virtual machine. Here is how to do this.

Enable Aero in VirtualBox by Installing Guest Additions on a Mac

To install the guest additions on your Mac, while the Windows guest machine is loaded, go to the menu bar and click Devices. From there click on Install Guest Additions.

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On the Windows guest you will want to run the installer for the additions. You can click the AutoPlay box or open the DVD in the drive.

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Click Yes on the User Account Control prompt.

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The guest additions installer will load, click Next to proceed with the install.

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If you are happy with the default locations click Next to continue. You can change the location if you want by clicking Browse, then click Next after you are finished.

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On the next step you will want to check the box for Direct3D Support.

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You will get a prompt that says “This system supports the Windows Aero (WDDM) interface. VirtualBox support for this feature is experimental and should not be used on production systems yet. Would you like to install basic Direct3D support instead?” Click No.

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Another prompt will open warning you about 3D acceleration. If you followed the steps above and increased the video memory to at least 128 MB you will be fine. If not after you finish with the guest additions install please do so. Click OK to continue.

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After clicking OK you will be taken back to the installer. Click Install to start the process.

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The guest additions install will take quite a while to complete so be patient. When it is done click Finish to reboot your machine.

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When the guest Windows OS is done rebooting, Aero should be enabled. If not right click on the desktop and go to Personalize.

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Then select on of the Aero Themes.

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You might have to wait a little bit before it comes back.

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Then Aero will be enabled.

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Enable Aero in VirtualBox for Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 on a Windows PC

If you are using a Windows machine as the host and want to enable the awesome Aero glass features for your guest Windows machine you can essential follow the steps above. The only differences in the process is how VirtualBox looks.

When you go to the Settings of your guest Windows machine.

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The Settings window looks a little different. You will still want to go to Display and check the boxes for Enable 3D and Enable 2D video Acceleration. Also increase the Video Memory if you can.

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Those setting above should enable the awesome Aero features for your Windows machine. If no you will need to install the guest additions. Click on Devices on your virtual machine and select Install Guest Additions.

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If the auto play doesn’t start up the install process you will need to manually launch the install. Go go Explorer to do so.

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Under the Explorer window click on the Computer group icon and double click the VirtualBox Guest Additions DVD in the right pane.

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Click Yes to any User Account Control prompts.

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Click Next after the Guest Additions setup installer launches.

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Click Next again to use the default destination folder. If you want another one, click Browse to change it, then click Next to continue.

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Both of the check boxes should be checked. Click Install to continue.

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The actual install might take a few minutes, so be patient.

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When it is all said and done click Finish to reboot.

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After Windows reboots you should have Aero enabled. If not go to the Desktop and right click on it. Select Personalize from the right click menu.

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Then choose one of the Aero Themes and wait until it finishes loading.

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After you are finished Aero will be running. Here is an example of Aero working on Windows 8 inside VirtualBox.

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Closing Comments

Enabling Aero on Virtualbox brings the full Windows experience, well that is what I think. Please make sure to check out some of our other VirtualBox post, like how to install Windows 8 in Virtualbox.

If you have any problems with doing the steps above share them in the comments below or start a thread in our forum.
 
 
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Ryan Dozier

Just your typical neighborhood geek that loves computers and finding awesome free stuff.
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