How to Install macOS in VirtualBox

Macos Virtualbox Featured

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.

Macos Virtualbox 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.

macOs Virtualbox Operating System

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).

Macos Virtualbox Memory Size

4. Choose “Create a virtual hard disk now,” and click on the “Create” button. Leave the default setting of “VDI” checked, and click “Next.”

Macos Virtualbox Create Virtual Hard Disk

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.

Macos Virtualbox Storage Options

7. Choose the size of your virtual hard disk. Click on “Create” to finish creating your virtual machine.

Macos Virtualbox Hard Disk Size

Final Configuration

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.

Macos Virtualbox Boot Order

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.

Macos Virtualbox CPU Selection

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.

Macos Virtualbox Storage Devices Options

4. Proceed to the “Display” section and set “Video Memory” to 128MB, then click “OK” to save.

Macos Virtualbox Display Memory

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.

Macos Virtualbox Installation Menu

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.

Do you have macOS running on your Windows PC? Do you have any tips and tricks or optimal settings? Let us know in the comments below.

9 comments

  1. It’s definitely worth mentioning you need an Intel CPU to do this. AMD CPUs don’t play nice with Apple OS X

  2. Ha! Now I can put Manjaro Linux on this unsupported 17″ MBP and run the latest OS X in VB.

    1. or you could go to dosdude1’s website and download his patched installer…. that’s how i’m running mojave on this unsupported 2010MB

  3. Hello Everyone,
    I’ve tried to Install macOS in VirtualBox in Windows using the steps above but I’ve got anomalies in step 5 &6. Can someone provide more details for step 5 &6 to help rectify these anomalies.

    1. Step 5: Case is important when running the commands in DOS. macos does not = MacOS.

      Step 6: When installing, when the installer asks What drive to install to you must run the Disk utility and format the VDI drive. Then exit the utility and the VDI will be listed as an install location.

  4. The last I knew, this is against Apples Ts & Cs for Apple software and you risk prosecution.

  5. In the last section, in the sentence “macOS should not be installed in VirtualBox.”, “should not” should be “should now”.

    Re: Muhubi: osx86 can run on non-Intel x86 CPUs even if vanilla Mac OS X cannot.

    Re: Joe: Yes, it may violate a licence agreement from Apple but I am not aware of Apple suing an individual Hackintosh user as opposed to a business such as Psystar.

  6. Hi, in the first step when I select the OS system (Mac OS X), in version only appear:
    – Mac OS X(32bits)
    – Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (32-bits)

    I need something else?

  7. So one thing you might want to add to this is that when you go to install the OS you will need to open the disk utility and “erase” the VBOX disk in order to be able to install on to the virtual disk. Otherwise you will not be able to see it.

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