Understanding the ‘Clipboard’ menu under Hyper-V

With Hyper-V the Virtual Machine Connection window has a menu titled ‘clipboard’.  This menu brings two of my favorite features from Virtual PC to the server world.  Unfortunately these features caused some confusion under Virtual PC – so we have tried to make this better for Hyper-V.  Under this menu there are two entries:

  • Type clipboard text.

    On Virtual PC this used to just be ‘paste’ but that is not the right description for what actually happens.  When you select this option the Virtual Machine Connection will take any text that is currently in the physical computers clipboard and pretend to type it on the keyboard of the virtual machine. 

    The downside to this approach is that we can only paste text (no graphics, etc…).  The upside to this approach is that it allows you to paste text at any time – no matter what the guest operating system is – or what it is doing.  One place where I often use this is to enter serial numbers for Windows when I am installing it. 

    One final word of warning – text is literally ‘typed on the keyboard’ – so if you try to copy and paste a large amount of text you might have to wait for a while for it to catch up.

  • Capture screen.

    On Virtual PC this used to be ‘copy’.  Selecting this option will take a screen shot of the guest operating system and place it in the physical computer’s clipboard.  This is very handy for catching screen shots of things like operating system installation – where a screen shot utility is usually not available.

As a side note – if you want to get a screen shot of a running virtual machine (including the Virtual Machine Connection window) just press your release key combination (CTRL + ALT + LEFT ARROW by default) and then press ALT + PRTSCN.  Click back in the Virtual Machine Connection window to keep on using the guest operating system afterwards.