Using a virtual machine

Applies To: Windows 7

This section provides basic information about using a virtual machine and links to instructions about performing specific tasks, such as using USB devices with a virtual machine.

You can access and manage virtual machines through the Virtual Machines folder. This folder is associated with your Windows user account, like the Documents and Pictures folders. The Virtual Machines folder lists all the virtual machines associated with your user account and shows details about those virtual machines, such as status (for example, running or hibernated). The shortcut to the Virtual Machines folder is located in the Windows Virtual PC group of the Start menu.

Interacting with the virtual environment

You can interact with the virtual environment by logging on to the guest operating system and using the virtual machine desktop, or by using virtual applications. For information about configuring virtual applications, see Publish and use virtual applications.

When you want to interact with a guest operating system, you open the virtual machine.

To open a virtual machine

  1. Open the Virtual Machines folder. From the Start menu, click Windows Virtual PC. If the menu item is not visible, click All Programs, click the Windows Virtual PC folder, and then click Windows Virtual PC.

  2. Start the virtual machine. In the file list, select the virtual machine and click Open, or double-click the virtual machine.

  3. Windows Virtual PC opens the virtual machine window and displays the video output of the virtual machine.

You can use a variety of keyboard shortcuts that apply specifically to Windows Virtual PC to perform specific tasks. For example, you can increase the size of the virtual machine desktop by using full-screen mode. Press the Windows logo key+UP ARROW. The following table lists the keyboard shortcuts.

Press this key To do this


Release the mouse from the virtual machine window (required when the integration features are not installed or are disabled, and on certain keyboard shortcuts noted below). You can also use this shortcut to release the keyboard and move to the focus to the toolbar.


Send the CTRL+ALT+DEL command to a virtual machine

Windows logo key+UP ARROW

Switch from window mode to full-screen mode


Switch from full-screen mode to window mode


Close a virtual machine

ALT+P (see note)

Pause a virtual machine


Resume a virtual machine from a paused state


Capture a print screen of the virtual machine display output


Capture a print screen of the window in the virtual machine that has focus

ALT+B (see note)

Open the USB menu of the virtual machine window

TAB+RIGHT or LEFT ARROW (see note)

Move between the Help menu and other menus on the toolbar of the virtual machine window


Before you use the keyboard shortcut, press CTRL+ALT+LEFT ARROW to move the focus to the virtual machine window.

Following are additional considerations for using the keyboard with Windows Virtual PC:

  • Keyboard shortcuts to enable “Sticky Keys” take effect on the host computer first. You might need to press the keyboard shortcut a second time to enable it inside the guest, which may disable the setting on the host.

  • In the Virtual Machine window, press CTRL+ALT+Left Arrow to access the menu items. To navigate the toolbar items, use the arrow keys. You cannot use the TAB key to access the toolbar items.

  • Mouse Keys cannot be controlled in a virtual machine by using Num Lock. However, using Mouse Keys on the host works in a virtual machine.

  • The keyboard shortcut to turn on high contrast works only when a virtual machine is running in full screen mode.

  • To display all items in a long drop-down list, use F4 or ALT+Down Arrow.

You can use CDs and DVDs in a virtual machine, as well as image files (.iso files). Windows Virtual PC supports only ISO 9660 images (the International Organization for Standardization standard format). To use physical media or .iso files, modify the DVD drive setting. For information about modifying settings, see Configuring a virtual machine.

You also can attach and use USB devices with virtual machines. For instructions, see Use a USB device in a virtual machine.

Managing the virtual environment

Even though the virtual machines may appear to be integrated with Windows 7, the guest operating systems and virtual applications require the same management and maintenance tasks that are required when you run them directly on physical computers. Each guest operating system is a separate entity and must be managed separately. For example, to receive the maintenance benefits provided by features and tools such as Windows Update and antivirus programs, you must install and run them in the guest operating system. Tools and features that run in the host operating system have no affect on the guest operating system.


The notification area of the host operating system may include icons of programs running in a virtual machine. For these programs, the tooltip includes (Remote) to help you identify which programs are running in a virtual machine. If the same program is running in both the host and guest operating systems, the notification area shows two instances of the same icon. For example. this happens if you run the same antivirus program in both operating systems.

See Also


Log on automatically to a guest operating system
Use a USB device in a virtual machine
Use Undo Disks
Close a virtual machine
Shut down a virtual machine manually
Troubleshooting Windows Virtual PC
Windows Virtual PC Help