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VirtualBox printer passthrough guide

Olga Weis Olga Weis Jul 21, 2020

1. How to access a local USB printer in VirtualBox

VirtualBox 5.0 includes USB passthrough support. Here are some simple instructions on how to use a USB printer in VirtualBox.

  1. If you want to take advantage of USB 3.0 speeds you can install the optional free VirtualBox Extension Pack.
  2. After installation start your virtual machine in the supported guest OS of your choice.
  3. Connect your printer to VirtualBox by using a USB port on your host computer.
  4. Now, in Devices -> USB, choose your printer and click on the ‘USB device to share’.
USB printer in VirtualBox

Once the USB connection is enabled, the VirtualBox shared USB printer will be accessible in your guest OS. The USB device will be identified by your virtual machine and you will be able to take advantage of all the functionality of your printer from the guest operating system. You can now remotely print from VirtualBox.

Remember that the VirtualBox printer can only be accessed by a single machine at a time.

2. Software solution to access USB printer in VirtualBox

USB Network Gate by Electronic Team, Inc.

Since virtualization apps offer limited or no support for local USB devices, users will be happy to know there is a software solution called USB Network Gate.
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USB Network Gate

Share USB over Ethernet on Windows
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USB Network Gate

Employing USB redirection technology, this software tool lets you forward USB peripheral data over LAN or the Internet. Using this package lets you access a USB printer from the guest operating system when the device is connected to a remote PC rather than the local host.

These three simple steps will make this possible:

USB Network Gate
  1. Install USB Network Gate on the machine with the USB device attached.
  2. Use the software interface to share the printer.
  3. Install and start the app on a virtual machine and you can connect to the shared USB printer.

An additional advantage of USB Network Gate is its cross-platform compatibility supporting Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.

3. Configuring VirtualBox printer access in Ubuntu

Using a Ubuntu machine as the host for a VirtualBox session can pose a problem if you want to access an attached USB printer. We are going to show you how to resolve the issue of printing from VirtualBox.

The default configuration does not display USB devices in the way we would like, but there is an alternative. Follow these steps to use a USB printer in VirtualBox.

  1. Go to System -> Administration -> Users and Groups.
  2. Click “Unlock”.
  3. Enter your password and click on “Authenticate”.
  4. Select "Manage Groups”.
  5. The "Groups settings" window will be displayed. Scroll down to vboxusers and select “Properties”.
  6. In the "Group 'vboxusers' Properties” window which will open, check the box preceding your username and click the “OK” button.
  7. Close the open settings windows and log out of the session.
  8. Log back in and open VirtualBox.
  9. Start your VM and you will be able to access the printer from VirtualBox.

That’s all it takes to share a USB printer in VirtualBox on a Linux system.

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USB Network Gate
Share USB over Ethernet on Windows
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Also Available: USB Network Gate is a cross-platform solution compatible with Mac, Linux and Android OSes:

UNG for Mac

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