Virtualbox Keyboard Not Working: Troubleshooting Keyboard Issues in Virtual Machines

Using virtual machines is a great way to test out different operating systems and software programs. However, technical issues can arise when using virtualization software like VirtualBox. One common problem is the keyboard in the virtual machine suddenly stops working, leaving you unable to control the VM.

In this comprehensive guide, I will provide solutions to diagnose and fix non-working VM keyboards, such as adjusting video memory allocation and toggling keyboard settings. The steps can be applied to various virtualization programs used on Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux computers.

Virtualbox Keyboard Not Working
Virtualbox Keyboard Not Working

Identify If It’s a Virtual Software Issue

First, determine if the problem is isolated to just the virtual machine software. Try using the keyboard on the host computer outside the virtualization program. If the keyboard works normally outside the VM, then the issue is likely with the virtualization software settings rather than a hardware problem.

Check Keyboard Settings in the Virtualization Program

Open the configuration or settings dialog for the problematic virtual machine. Look for keyboard options and make sure the keyboard is enabled and keyboard integration features are active. For example, in VirtualBox, this includes checking the “USB Controller” and “USB Keyboard” settings. Correct any improper keyboard settings to see if that resolves the issue.

Adjust Video Memory Allocation

Another setting that could cause keyboard issues is insufficient video memory allocated to the VM. Power off the virtual machine and increase the video memory, such as to 128MB if it was previously low. Increasing video memory has resolved keyboard problems for some users.

Uncheck and Recheck Keyboard in Input Settings

Navigate to the Input settings in the VM configuration. Uncheck the keyboard checkbox and then recheck it to force a refresh. This keyboard setting toggle has helped some users get their VM keyboard working again.

Uninstall/Reinstall Integration Tools

Most virtualization software includes special integration tools and drivers to allow the host and guest OS to communicate properly. These packages include the necessary keyboard drivers. Try reinstalling or updating the integration tools in the malfunctioning VM. This may fix missing or corrupted keyboard drivers.

Reset the VM and Restart the Computer

After updating the integration tools, reset the virtual machine to restart the keyboard drivers. If the keyboard still doesn’t work, restart the host computer for a fresh slate. This will eliminate any stuck processes related to the virtualization software that may be interfering with the keyboard.

Check for Conflicts

Keyboard issues can arise if other programs conflict with the virtualization software over access to the keyboard. Check for virtual private network (VPN) services, other VMs, or apps that may be conflicting with the virtualization software for control of the keyboard. Disable or uninstall any conflicting programs.

Update Virtualization Software

Make sure to keep your virtualization software up-to-date. Bug fixes and keyboard driver updates are often included in new releases. Go to the software vendor’s website to download the latest version if you are not on the current release. Upgrading can resolve keyboard problems caused by bugs in older versions.


With proper troubleshooting, you should be able to isolate and correct most keyboard issues that arise in virtual machines. Make sure to methodically check settings, updates, conflicts, and resets to get a non-working VM keyboard functioning again. 

Let me know if you have any other tips for resolving virtual machine keyboard problems.

People Also Ask

My keyboard works outside the VM but not inside, what should I do?

This indicates the issue is with your virtualization software, not your physical keyboard. Troubleshoot the VM configuration and integration tools.

I reinstalled the integration tools but the keyboard still doesn’t work. What next?

Try restarting both the VM and host computer to refresh the keyboard drivers. Also, check for conflicting programs interfering with the keyboard.

How can I prevent keyboard issues in my VMs in the future?

Keep your virtualization software updated and properly configure keyboard settings in the VM settings. Disable any programs that may conflict with the VM.

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