As a Windows user, there may be times when you need to use macOS but don’t have the money to invest in your own Mac computer. Apple has always made it hard to install their operating system on non-Apple hardware, making it hard to take advantage of the benefits of this refined OS.
With VirtualBox, however, it is possible to install macOS on your Windows PC. Let’s run through how to go about this.
What You’ll Need
First, you’ll need to download a copy of Oracle VM VirtualBox. You’ll also need an ISO image of the macOS version you want to install.
Getting hold of an ISO is actually more difficult than you might expect. If you have access to a Mac, you won’t be able to download a copy of the OS you already have installed. If the Mac is running macOS Mojave, open the macOS High Sierra page in the App Store and download the installer from there.
You will need to convert this APP file to a DMG and then convert from a DMG to an ISO in order to be able to install it in VirtualBox. A less complicated, but also less secure, option is to search for an ISO of your desired version of macOS online. There are plenty of sites that have them, but downloading an ISO from an unofficial site does come with a level of risk.
How to Create Your macOS Virtual Machine
1. Install VirtualBox on your Windows PC by following the instructions. Click “New” to create your new virtual machine.
2. Use the name of your macOS version to name your virtual machine. For example, High Sierra or Mojave. The type and version should autofill with the correct settings.
3. Select the amount of RAM to be allocated to your virtual machine. Allocating more RAM will help to speed up your virtual machine, but make sure you leave enough for your host OS (whether that’s Windows or Linux).
4. Choose “Create a virtual hard disk now,” and click on the “Create” button. Leave the default setting of “VDI” checked, and click “Next.”
5. Decide whether you want a dynamically allocated or fixed size virtual hard drive. A dynamically allocated drive will start small and grow in size as more space is needed. A fixed-size drive will immediately take up the set amount of space on your physical hard drive.
7. Choose the size of your virtual hard disk. Click on “Create” to finish creating your virtual machine.
1. With your virtual machine highlighted, click on the “Settings” cog. Select “System” from the side menu and make sure that “Floppy” is unticked in the “Boot Order” settings. This will ensure that your virtual machine boots from your High Sierra disc image. Make sure you set “Base Memory” to a suitable level – 2048MB at a minimum.
2. While you’re in the “System” menu, click on the “Processor” tab. Set the number of CPUs to at least two, and ensure “Enable PAE/NX” is enabled.
3. Select the “Storage” menu from the sidebar. Under Storage Devices, click on “Empty.” Click on the icon of an optical disk in the top-right corner of the screen, and select your High Sierra ISO file, ensuring “Use Host I/O cache” is enabled. Click “OK” to save the changes.
4. Proceed to the “Display” section and set “Video Memory” to 128MB, then click “OK” to save.
5. Before you can run macOS in a virtual machine, you’ll need to run the following commands from a command line or PowerShell with admin privileges on Windows or a terminal on Linux. Make sure VirtualBox is closed before you attempt this.
For Windows users, the following should work as provided. Linux users will need to add “sudo” to the start of each VBoxManage command and replace the location on the first line with the location of VirtualBox, as installed on your Linux distribution.
6. Finally, reopen VirtualBox, click on the green “Start” arrow to launch your Virtual Machine, then follow the instructions to install macOS.
Running macOS without the Mac
macOS should now be installed in VirtualBox. Any time you want to use it, simply launch VirtualBox, and start your virtual machine. When you’re done, you can either close VirtualBox or shut down through your macOS virtual machine.