Fix Android Screen Resolution in VirtualBox

Android Screen Resolution VirtualBox screenshot

After learning how to install Android within VirtualBox, the one thing you may have noticed if you followed that guide is that the window within which you can use Android is quite small.

This guide shows you how to increase the screen resolution. It isn't as easy as flicking a switch but by following these instructions you will be able to change it to something that works for you.

There are basically two main parts to amending the screen resolution. The first is to amend the VirtualBox settings for your Android installation and the second is to amend the boot menu option within GRUB to reset the screen resolution.

Fix the Virtualbox Screen Resolution for Android

The first thing you need to do is open up a command prompt. 

If you are using Windows 8.1 right click the Start button and select Command Prompt. If you are using Windows 7 or before press the Start button and type cmd.exe into the run box.

Within Linux open up a terminal window. If you are using Ubuntu press the super key and type term into the dash and then click on the terminal icon. Within Mint open up the menu and click on the terminal icon within the menu. (You can also press Ctrl+Alt+T at the same time).

If you are using Windows run the following command:

cd "c:\program files\oracle\virtualbox"

This assumes you used the default options whilst installing VirtualBox.

In Linux you don't have to navigate to the folder for VirtualBox as it is part of the path environment variable.

If you are using Windows run the following command:

VBoxManage.exe setextradata "WHATEVERYOUCALLEDANDROID" "CustomVideoMode1" "desiredresolution"

If you are using Linux the command is very similar except you don't need the .exe as follows:

VBoxManage setextradata "WHATEVERYOUCALLEDANDROID" "CustomVideoMode1" "desiredresolution"

Replace WHATEVERYOUCALLEDANDROID with the name of the virtual machine you created for Android and replace the desiredresolution with an actual resolution such as 1024x768x16 or 1368x768x16.

Fix the Screen Resolution in GRUB for Android

  1. Open VirtualBox and start your Android virtual machine. 
  2. Select the devices menu and then choose CD/DVD devices and then if the Android ISO appears place a tick next to it. If the Android ISO doesn't appear click Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file and navigate to the Android ISO you downloaded previously.
  3. Now select Machine and Reset from the menu.
  4. Choose the Live CD - Debug Mode option

A load of text will zoom up the screen. Press return until you are at a prompt that looks like this:

/Android #

Type the following lines into the terminal window:

mkdir /boot
mount /dev/sda1 /boot
vi /boot/grub/menu.lst

The vi editor takes a bit of getting used to if you haven't used it before so you will now learn how to edit the file and what to enter.

The first thing to note is that there appear to be four blocks of code all starting with the following text:

title Android-x86 4.4-r3

The only one you are interested in is the first block. Using the arrow keys on our keyboard move the cursor down to the line just below the first "title Android-x86 4.4-r3".

Now use the right arrow and place the cursor just after the bit in bold below:

kernel /android-4.4-r3/kernel quiet root=/dev/ram0 androidboot.hardware=android_x86 src=/android-4.4-r3

Press I on the keyboard (that is i and not 1).

Enter the following text: 


Replace yourdesiredresolution with the resolution you wish to use, for example UVESA_MODE=1024x768.

The line should now look as follows:

kernel /android-4.4-r3/kernel quiet root=/dev/ram0 androidboot.hardware=android_x86 UVESA_MODE=1024x768 src=/android-4.4-r3

Obviously, the 1024x768 will be whatever you chose as a resolution.

Press escape on your keyboard to exit insert mode and the press : (colon) on your keyboard and type wq (write and quit).

Final Steps

Before resetting your virtual machine remove the ISO from the virtual DVD drive again. To do this select the Devices menu and then CD/DVD Devices. Untick the Android ISO option.

Finally, all you have to do is reset the virtual machine by selecting Machine and Reset from the menu.

When you start Android the next time it will automatically resize to the new resolution as soon as you pick the menu option within GRUB. If the resolution isn't to your liking follow the instructions above again and choose a different resolution where required.

Now that you have tried Android within VirtualBox why not try Ubuntu within VirtualBox. VirtualBox isn't the only virtualization software. If you are using the GNOME desktop you can use Boxes to run virtual machines.