How to set up Windows Sandbox on Windows 11

Windows Sandbox is a very useful feature for testing software on Windows 11. Here’s how to set it up on your PC.

Quick links

  • What you need to run Windows Sandbox
  • How to set up Windows Sandbox

If you’ve been following news about Windows 11 (and Windows 10 before it), you’ve probably heard of the Windows Sandbox, but there’s a good chance you might not know what it is. This is a feature that Microsoft has added in newer versions of Windows 10, especially for Pro or Enterprise editions.

Essentially, the Windows Sandbox gives you a safe, isolated environment for testing software, much like using a virtual machine, but simpler to use. If you are wondering how to set up Windows Sandbox on Windows 11, we are here to help with that.

What is Windows Sandbox?

Windows Sandbox is a feature that was introduced with Windows 10, version 1903, and has been a part of Windows ever since. It is only available for the Pro and Enterprise editions, however, so there is a good chance that your computer does not support it. However, there is third-party software like Sandboxie that accomplishes a similar purpose.

Windows Sandbox relies on virtualization technology, the same type of technology that powers Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs), to create an isolated environment in which to test programs. This can be downloading potentially dangerous software or testing your own software that you are developing, which can cause problems on your system.

Unlike a traditional VM, Windows Sandbox doesn’t need to provide an ISO file, virtual hard disk, or anything. Everything is set up automatically, and the operating system inside the Windows Sandbox is the same as the one you’re currently using. It’s just a clean copy of your operating system, which is isolated from the rest of your files so everything stays safe. Although it’s not as versatile as setting up a VM with whatever settings you want, Windows Sandbox is very easy to use for anyone. It is a benefit in itself.

What you need to run Windows Sandbox

Setting up Windows Sandbox is pretty easy, but there are a few things you’ll need to check first. Your computer’s processor needs to support virtualization, and this feature must be enabled in the BIOS. To check this, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the Start menu icon (or press Windows + X on the keyboard), then select Windows Terminal (administrator) from the list. NB: In newer versions such as Windows 11 version 22H2, this option is called Only terminal (administrator).
  2. Writes systeminfo.exe in the Windows Terminal window and press Enters.
  3. Near the bottom of Windows, check Hyper-V requirements And make sure that all the requirements say yes.
    Screenshot of Windows Terminal showing a list of requirements for Hyper-V, all of which have been met

    If you see a message that says “Hypervisor detected. Required features for Hyper-V will not be offered”, then you likely have some type of virtualization technology installed. Hyper-V may already be enabled, or your computer may have some form of virtualization-based protection, which is common on business machines. This should not prevent you from using Windows Sandbox.

  4. If you see that file Enable virtualization in the firmware Cucumber says numberYou will need to head into your BIOS settings to enable it.
    1. To do this, go to the Start menu and hold Transformation on the keyboard while clicking re-start.
    2. When the computer restarts, choose Troubleshootingfollowed by Advanced Options.
    3. click UEFI firmware settings.

    4. This part will look dramatically different depending on your computer, but you’ll want to look for a setting that mentions virtualization. This is usually under the advanced settings in your BIOS.
      Screenshot of the computer's BIOS settings showing virtualization technology enabled
    5. Enable the setting if it is not already there, then save changes and exit.
  5. You should now be able to set up Windows Sandbox

How to set up Windows Sandbox

Aside from making sure your PC is easy to boot, setting up the Windows Sandbox is actually very easy. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open the start menu and enter Optionalfeatures.exethen hit Enters.
  2. Scroll down until you find File Windows Sandbox option, then check the box next to it.
    Screenshot of the optional highlight panel in Windows 11 showing Windows Sandbox enabled
  3. click yes And wait for the components to install. Restart your computer when prompted.
  4. Windows Sandbox should now appear as an app in the Start menu

You should now have Windows Sandbox available as an optional feature of Windows. Follow the steps in the section above to enable the feature, and you should be good to go.

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