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Printing from VirtualBox - How to connect a printer in VirtualBox?

Olga Weis Olga Weis Dec 8, 2021

Those with data centers relying on VirtualBox, and thus with virtual machines reliant on the USB device, will know that USBs support isn’t available without enabling it. If you are in common with usage USB in a virtual machine, you may be interested in accessing a printer, not only sharing USB in VirtualBox. So, here is all you need to know about printing from the virtual environment.

Software solution to access USB printer in VirtualBox

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

Note: May occur the problem on machines where VirtualBox is installed. After plugging a USB device into a USB port of the computer or after sharing/unsharing a USB device with USB Network Gate, VBoxUSBMon.sys driver may crash causing BSOD.

To fix this issue, you can stop VBoxUSBMon.sys driver or use another virtual machine instead of VirtualBox.

An additional advantage of USB Network Gate is its cross-platform compatibility supporting Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems. As opposed to the native method, USB Network Gate seems to be the simplest way for access USB printer in VirtualBox.

Access Printer in VirtualBox with ExtensionPack - native method

VirtualBox’s most recent version (6.1) supports USB 3.0, but the latest version of VirtualBox Extension Pack must be installed to enjoy this option.

Just download VirtualBox from their website to get started. Linux users will also need to download the Open-Source Edition (OSE)—but OSE does not offer USB support.

A virtual machine created using Open-Source Edition also works with closed-source versions of VirtualBox.

  • Step 1: Uninstall Open-Source Edition.

  • Step 2: Install the VirtualBox version available on their website.

  • Step 3: Open VirtualBox to find your virtual machines displayed.

How to set up a Virtualbox Extension Pack

VirtualBox Extension Packs allow users to enjoy accessing and using their USB devices (which is a big help for anyone who wants to print from VirtualBox.) Follow the steps below to set up VirtualBox Extension Packs to start using USBs in a virtual machine.

  • Step 1: Go to the VirtualBox website.

  • Step 2: Download file named: "Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-4.1.6-74713.vbox-extpack".

  • Step 3: Open VirtualBox.

  • Step 4: Open the File menu, select Preferences.

  • Step 5: Go to Extensions.

  • Step 6: Add the extensions file.

Note: Ubuntu users must add their user account to the “vboxusers” group. Do this by going to System Setting (via the launcher) > Users and Groups > Manage Groups, then restart the system.

Access USB printer in VirtualBox
Download USB Network Gate and print from VirtualBox

How to let VirtualBox share printers: a step-by-step guide

Now it’s time to walk you through how to set up a VirtualBox USB printer. Based on the number of resources (like RAM) available on the host machine, multiple operating systems may run simultaneously.

When it comes time to enable VirtualBox printer capabilities, network access for every guest OS can be established via the host computer.

Note: Users can configure bridged networking on guest computers to connect their printer in VirtualBox virtual machine.

Follow the step-by-step guide below to learn how to set up a VirtualBox host printer.

  • Step 1: Open VirtualBox.

  • Step 2: Open the virtual machine that will be used to print.

  • Step 3: Choose Settings.

  • Step 4: Select Network.

  • Step 5: Make sure “Enable Network Adapter” is on.

  • Step 6: Located under Attached To, click Bridged Adapter.

  • Step 7: Select the correct physical network adapter (if multiple network adapters are installed on the host system).

  • Step 8: Save the new settings by clicking OK.

  • Step 9: Turn on the virtual machine.

  • Step 10: Add/configure the network printer inside the guest OS (i.e., Windows machines requires users to go to Devices and Printers to add network printers).

USB Network Gate
Print from VirtualBox in a few clicks

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.

  • Go to System -> Administration -> Users and Groups.

  • Click “Unlock”.

  • Enter your password and click on “Authenticate”.

  • Select "Manage Groups”.

  • The "Groups settings" window will be displayed. Scroll down to vboxusers and select “Properties”.

  • In the "Group 'vboxusers' Properties” window which will open, check the box preceding your username and click the “OK” button.

  • Close the open settings windows and log out of the session.

  • Log back in and open VirtualBox.

  • 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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