How to mount ISO on virtual machine on VirtualBox

If you have an ISO file, you can use these two ways to mount it to a virtual machine on VirtualBox.

VirtualBox mount ISO settings
VirtualBox mount ISO settings

On VirtualBox, if you create a virtual machine or install an app on the guest device, you will probably need to mount an ISO file to access the setup files. An ISO file is a container (a “disk image”) containing an exact copy of all the contents on a physical disc. Also, since no physical discs are involved, it has become the most common method to ship software and other information over the internet.

Using VirtualBox, you can connect ISO files in at least two ways through the VirtualBox Manager or from the virtual machine interface when the guest operating system is running.

This guide will teach you two ways to insert an ISO file into a VirtualBox virtual machine on Windows 10 (or 11).

Mount ISO to virtual machine with VirtualBox Manager

To mount an ISO file to a VM through the VirtualBox Manager, use these steps:

  1. Open VirtualBox on Windows 11.

  2. Right-click the virtual machine and select the Settings option.

    VirtualBox context settings

  3. Click on Storage.

  4. Under the “Storage Drives” section, select the disc (Empty) item.

  5. Under the “Attributes” section, click the disc icon and select the “Choose a disk file” button.

    Connect ISO option

  6. Select the ISO file.

  7. Click the Open button.

  8. (Optional) Check the Live CD/DVD option to keep the ISO mount even when the guest operating system tries to eject it.

  9. (Optional) Check the Hot-pluggable option to make the virtual drive appear as a hot-pluggable peripheral.

  10. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the ISO file will mount to the virtual machine. If this is an installation media, the setup will appear on the guest device. If you connect the image to a virtual machine, the disk will appear in the operating system.

If you want to unmount the ISO file, click the “Choose a disk file” button while in the “Storage” settings and select the “Remove disk from virtual drive” option.

Mount ISO to running virtual machine on VirtualBox

To mount an image file while the VirtualBox guest machine is running, use these steps:

  1. Open VirtualBox.

  2. Right-click the virtual machine, select the Start submenu, and choose the Normal start option.

    Start virtual machine option

  3. Click the Devices menu.

  4. Select the Optical Drives submenu and the “Choose a disk file” option.

    Mount ISO file running VM

  5. Select the ISO file.

  6. Click the Open button.

After you complete the steps, the ISO file will mount to a virtual drive.

If you want to unmount the ISO file on Windows 11 (or 10), open “File Explorer,” right-click the disk drive in “This PC,” and select the “Eject” option.

Alternatively, on VirtualBox, you can open the “Devices” menu, select the “Optical Drivers” submenu, and choose the “Remove disk from virtual drive” option.

If the optical device feature doesn’t work, you could alternatively mount the image to the host operating system, extract its content, and then make it available to the guest machine using a shared folder.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me. Email him at [email protected].