Anyone know how to get Virtual Manager to install copy-paste functionality to the Virtual Machine?

  • 1
    Please describe more about "copy functionality". Which functionality do you need? Don't you access to ssh on the host?
    – shgnInc
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 9:17
  • adding to @shgnlnc: or you want bidirectional copy and paste for host and guest?
    – TPS
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 10:39
  • related: askubuntu.com/questions/858649/… Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 0:09

5 Answers 5


You have to use "Spice" instead of "VNC" :

  1. No more need to install spice-gtk: virt-manager has now a spice-gtk client built-in. But you need to install python-spice-client-gtk (spice-client-gtk on debian) on the VM host
    • If you use virt-manager on another machine to connect to the VM host remotely through ssh, you must also install python-spice-client-gtk on that machine
  2. Start virt-manager
  3. Select you virtual machine
  4. Power on the virtual machine
  5. Connect to your guest with ssh ; in the guest, install spice-vdagent and verify that spice-vdagentd is launched (ps -lef|grep spice-vdagentd will return you the process if its running)
  6. Show virtual hardware details
  7. Select Display VNC, change VNC to Spice and accept to add the Channel
  8. Change the Video model from Cirrus (the default) to QXL
  9. Restart virt-manager and power on the virtual machine

You are using Spice.

Another solution, without X, but assuming that you are able to ssh to your host from your machine, and to your VM from your host :

  1. mymachine:~$ssh user@host
  2. host:~$ssh user@guest
  • Should install these packages on a machine which virt-manager was installed on it? Or exactly on Host?
    – shgnInc
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 9:19
  • There is no more need to install spice-gtk. I have changed the answer. Commented May 12, 2014 at 10:29
  • 2
    Actually it seems that once you install spice-vdagent in guest, there's no need to restart virt-manager nor the guest to use clipboard sharing. It's enough to logout and then login back in the guest.
    – gerlos
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 20:39
  • 2
    For me (on debian) only the daemon spice-vdagentd started after the reboot, without sharing the clipboard. I had to autostart spice-vdagent via .xsessionrc to get it working.
    – S1J0
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 18:39

You need to install Spice guest agent into the guest:

Check "Guest" part of Spice downloads section: https://www.spice-space.org/download.html

  • 12
    For Windows guest, in addition to installing spice-guest-tools, I needed to do the following in virt-manager: Add Hardware -> Channel, set name to "com.redhat.spice.0" (or similar), set device type as "Spice agent (spicevmc)". I found this info from this reddit post after searching for a long time: reddit.com/r/linux/comments/asw4wk/…
    – jackkamm
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 15:38
  • 2
    Update: The above channel name setting was not required for me. Just installing the spice-guest-tools for Windows 10 worked. Thanks
    – Haris
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 13:22
  • What about with a legacy guest os where tools are not available? I'm trying to install ubuntu 10.04 as a guest. I want to hijack the keyboard IO with my paste data.
    – Julian
    Commented Feb 26, 2022 at 21:55

With a Linux (Debian 11/bullseye) host and a Windows 10 guest, I did the following to enable copy-and-paste between the guest and the host:

  • Install spice-guest-tools on Windows guest; the binaries can be downloaded from https://www.spice-space.org/download.html.
  • Install spice-vdagent on Linux host.
  • Using virt-manager (on host) change the Windows VM configuration:
    • Set the 'Display' to 'Spice'.
    • Add a 'spicevmc' Channel (via 'Add Hardware'); The XML data will be:

      channel type="spicevmc"
      target type="virtio"
      alias name="channel0"
      address type="virtio-serial" controller="0" bus="0" port="2"

  • In Linux host, enable spice-vdagentd.service; eg.
    # systemctl enable spice-vdagentd.service`
  • Restart Linux.

The copy-and-paste functionality is ready to use.

  • Maybe you could add the filename where the XML data is applied? Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 15:33
  • I did it via virt-manager; the XML content is copied from the GUI. But if you want to change the VM configuration via editing the XML, then you could use the command virsh edit <VM-name>.
    – AlQuemist
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 7:04
  • 2
    For Ubuntu 20.04.5 LTS and "virt-manager/focal,focal,now 1:2.2.1", just "spice-guest-tools" is enough. Virt Manager switched to Spice server automatically.
    – clarkttfu
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 10:59

Another option is to use Barrier (software-based KVM) https://github.com/debauchee/barrier.

Install it on your host as the server. Install it on your VM as a client.

Here is what my client setup looks like.

VM Barrier Configuration

Next, tell Barrier where (spatially) your client is. This is personal preference, but I set mine to be above my host. It is kind of awkward since the VM obviously is nested inside your host, but it still works very well.

Click Configure Server on Barrier running on your host machine. Here is my setup:

Host Barrier Configuration

What you label the screen matters here. Notice, in my first image, the Screen name is "jareds-iMac". This has to match.

With this setup, when you move your mouse past the top of your screen, it switches into the VM. Copy-paste will work from host to machine and vice-versa. An added benefit is that you don't have to press any hotkeys to release the "grab" from the VM.


On the latest Windows 11, both Spice-Guest-Tools and Virtio-Win-Guest-Tools need installing for clipboard sharing

Below is the same answer as above. But with details for those interested.


  1. On the Windows 11 Guest, install this latest Spice-Guest-Tools from https://www.spice-space.org/download/windows/spice-guest-tools/spice-guest-tools-latest.exe

  2. On the Windows 11 Guest, install this latest Virtio-Win-Guest-Tools from https://fedorapeople.org/groups/virt/virtio-win/direct-downloads/latest-virtio/virtio-win-guest-tools.exe

  3. Reboot Windows 11 Guest

  4. Done. Enjoy clipboard sharing.

No need to install anything on the Host. Except Virtual Manager (Virt-Manager). Also on the Host, no need to change any configuration with Virt-Manager. The default ones worked. In our case, Debian 12 Bookworm with GNOME Wayland.

Related ticket at https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/spice/win32/spice-nsis/-/issues/19

Virtio documentation:

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