How to mount ISO on a 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

On VirtualBox, if you create a virtual machine or install an application on the guest machine, you will probably need to mount an ISO file to access the setup files.

An ISO file is a container (also called a “disk image”) containing an exact copy of all the contents available on a physical disc. Also, since no physical discs are involved, it has become the most common medium to ship software and other information over the internet.

If you use 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 a virtual machine with VirtualBox Manager

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

  1. Open VirtualBox.

  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. The setup will appear on the guest device if this is an installation media. If you connect the image to a virtual machine with an OS, 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 a 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.