How to Create and Manage VM Groups in VirtualBox – Easily Manage Virtual Machines

If you are the person having plenty of virtual machines in a single host machine with Oracle VirtualBox, then ‘VM Group’ will be very useful. It helps to arrange virtual machines in a particular group (in a single area) and manage and work with them easily. This small guide shows how to create and manage VM groups in VirtualBox.

Virtual machines management becomes easy by creating VM groups when you have plenty of VMs. It allows to apply specific commands to several virtual machines just by the single action and at the same time. For example, you can power on the all Linux VMs which are in the same group with the just single click.

Sysprobs already covered plenty of useful articles/guides about Oracle VirtualBox here.

Find out more information about how to create, manage, and delete VM Groups with below example. Let’s say I want to make a VM group for Windows servers in my host.

before group

How to Create a VM group in Oracle VirtualBox

You can create a VM group in several ways by VirtualBox manager GUI or command prompt, but below is the easiest way,

1) Select the VMs (by pressing and holding the Ctrl key) and right-click, choose Group as shown below.right click group

2) You can add more virtual machines to a group by drag and drop later.

To Rename a group, Right click on the group title bar and select Rename Group option, pressing F2 key also works.

rename group

Create VM group in command prompt

Group membership is an attribute of the VM, so you can modify the VM to belong in a group. For example, to put the VM “Ubuntu” into the group “TestGroup” run this command:

From the command line:

VBoxManage modifyvm "Ubuntu" --groups "/TestGroup"

Also, a virtual machine can be part of more than one group.

For example, one of my Windows servers can be part of another VM group name, let’s say ‘Cluster Project’ group.

You have to press ‘Alt’ key while dragging a virtual machine in-between VM groups to keep it in more than one group.

multi groups

In command prompt (for example),

VBoxManage modifyvm "Ubuntu" --groups "/TestGroup","/ProjectX","/ProjectY"

You can navigate and view only the virtual machines in particular VM group easily by pressing right/left arrow at top of a VM group.

Then press left arrow (Exit group) button to go back to the home page of virtual machines.

exit group

Main Purpose of VM Groups, Why to Have it?

Keeping the similar or purpose wise virtual machines in a group is really helpful to have an organized GUI.  Also, you can do several tasks to the VM group in one time which will be applicable for all virtual machines in that group. For example, you can power on the all guest machines ( which are in one VM group) in one click.

Here are the tasks that can be done in VM group level,

Start (Starts from any state (boot or resume), Start VMs in headless mode (hold Shift while starting), Pause, Reset, Close, Save state, Send Shutdown signal, Power off, Discard saved state, Show in the file system and Sort.

In below example, I can start all Windows servers (in the group) by clicking Start as shown below.

start a group


How to Delete a VM Group or Remove a VM from a Group

If you want to remove a group (which is having virtual machines), Right click on the group and select ‘Ungroup’ as shown below.

Ungrouping will place the VMs in the normal place on the GUI.


If you like to remove a particular virtual machine from a group, you just need to drag and drop it to the empty place in the console. DO NOT SELECT REMOVE OPTION in the Virtual machine which is similar to removing/deleting a virtual machine from VirtualBox host.

You can use the following command to remove a VM from a group.

VBoxManage modifyvm "Ubuntu" --groups ""

The above command changes the attributes of VM to empty group name, like no group.

Original source and ideas from Oracle Blog.


Dinesh is the founder of Sysprobs and written more than 400 articles. Enthusiast in Microsoft and cloud technologies with more than 15 years of IT experience.

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