macOS allows you to change the Touch Bar to traditional function keys when you run specific applications. I have tried to do so with VirtualBox, and it works on the main VirtualBox window properly. The only issue is that when I launch a virtual machine, those settings lose their effect. The reason is that VirtualBox launches a differently-named executable file (from within its app bundle) in order to run the virtual machine in a separate process.

So, the question is: Is there a way to set up macOS to show the function buttons when running a virtual machine in VirtualBox (e.g. Linux or Windows)?



  1. Open a Finder window to the /Applications folder. Right click on VirtualBox.app and click “Show Package Contents”.
  2. Find the Resources folder, and drag it into Finder’s favorites sidebar.
  3. Using the Resources folder you put in favorites, add vmstarter.app and VirtualBoxVM.app to the list of exceptions.
  4. Now you can remove the Resources shortcut you added to favorites.
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    Thanks, great! But according to the rules you need to bring the answer here (links are not sufficient) so that I can mark the answer as correct. – retrography Jan 21 '17 at 21:45

An approach that does not require the favorites sidebar is:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Pick Keyboard
  3. Pick Shortcuts
  4. Pick Function Keys
  5. Press "+"
  6. Type Command-Shift-G
  7. Paste the text /Applications/VirtualBox.app/Contents/Resources
  8. Select VirtualBoxVM.app

Similarly for vmstarter.app

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There is, as explained in the link anon provided: http://www.mastropaolo.com/2016/12/16/how-to-have-function-keys-in-virtualbox-guess-with-macos-touchbar/

  1. Create a link to the actual executable:

    • Right-click "VirtualBox.app"
    • Click "Show Package Contents"
    • Find the "Resources" folder and drag it to the Finder's Favourites Sidebar
  2. Add the executable to the list of Applications using the Function keys:

    • Open "Settings.app" and navigate to "Keyboard" ➝ "Shortcuts" ➝ "Function keys"
    • Click "+" and add "VirtualBoxVM.app" and "vmstarter.app" using the "Resources" folder in the sidebar.

You can then remove the link from the sidebar.

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