Windows 10 is a great operating system. Sure, it has its quirks and annoyances, but what OS doesn’t? But even if you’re beholden to Microsoft and Windows, that doesn’t mean you cannot shop around. And what better way to do that than from the safe confines of your existing OS and a virtual machine.
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how run macOS in a virtual machine, making a virtual Hackintosh. “Hackintosh” is the name given to an unsupported system running any Mac operating system. Unsure if you’d get along with a Mac? Give this a try and see.
You Need These to Get Started
Before we begin, you need to download and install a couple of things. I’m going to show you how to create virtual machines in both Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager (“VirtualBox”) and VMware Workstation Player (“VMware Player”).
- VirtualBox — Download the latest version. This tutorial uses Version 5.1.22.
- VMware Player — Download the latest version. This tutorial uses Version 12.5.5.
Unsure what is powering your system? Press Windows Key + X and select System. Check what’s listed alongside “Processor.” Once you’re sure, download either the Intel or AMD version.
The download can take a little time. It is a whole OS, after all. When the download completes, extract the contents to a memorable location. This is a Virtual Machine Disk Format (.VMDK) file containing the OS.
Once you’re ready, move onto the next section.
VirtualBox: Create the macOS Virtual Machine
Open VirtualBox. Select New. Type macOS. VirtualBox will detect the OS as you type. It defaults to Mac OS X. However, we need to change this. Under Version, select Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan.
Next, set the amount of RAM the virtual OS can use. I’d suggest a minimum of 4 GB, but it can only be a share of total RAM available. Finally, we need to assign a hard disk. In this case, we will Use an existing virtual hard disk file.
Select the folder icon and browse to where you extracted the Virtual Machine Disk Format file. Open it. Ensuring you’ve selected the correct virtual disk, hit Create.
Edit Virtual Machine Settings
To make sure our virtual machine is going to function correctly, we need to tweak some settings.
Select Settings, followed by System. Remove Floppy from the boot order. Ensure the Chipset is set to ICH9.
Select the Processor tab. Assign two processors. If you have an i7 with power to spare, consider adding more. However, this isn’t vital.
Under Display options, set Video Memory to 128 MB. Hit OK to save the changes. Now, completely close VirtualBox.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work straight off the bat. We need to essentially patch VirtualBox before the macOS virtual machine will function. This requires us to enter some code in the Command Prompt. Don’t worry though, I’ll guide you through.
Start by pressing Windows Key + X, then selecting Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu. Next, use the following command to locate the Oracle VirtualBox directory:
cd "C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\"
Now, enter the following commands, one by one. Adjust the command to match the name of your virtual machine. For instance, my virtual machine name is “macOS MUO.” Here are the commands:
VBoxManage.exe modifyvm "macOS MUO" --cpuidset 00000001 000106e5 00100800 0098e3fd bfebfbff VBoxManage setextradata "macOS MUO" "VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiSystemProduct" "iMac11,3" VBoxManage setextradata "macOS MUO" "VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiSystemVersion" "1.0" VBoxManage setextradata "macOS MUO" "VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiBoardProduct" "Iloveapple" VBoxManage setextradata "macOS MUO" "VBoxInternal/Devices/smc/0/Config/DeviceKey" "ourhardworkbythesewordsguardedpleasedontsteal(c)AppleComputerInc" VBoxManage setextradata "macOS MUO" "VBoxInternal/Devices/smc/0/Config/GetKeyFromRealSMC" 1
After the completion of the commands, and presuming you encountered no errors, close the Command Prompt.
We’re Ready to Boot
Reopen VirtualBox. Double-click the macOS virtual machine to start it. You’ll see a long stream of text, followed by a grey screen. The grey screen can take a moment or two to clear — but don’t panic. When it resolves, you’ll arrive at the macOS “Welcome” screen.
From here, you can set your macOS virtual machine up as you see fit.
VMware: Patch VMware Workstation Player
Prefer VMware over VirtualBox? I’ve got you covered. We can use the same VMDK file containing the OS, but the patch process is a different. In this case, you’ll need to download an unlocker (i.e. patcher). We will use the Unlocker created and provided by InsanelyMac.
Download the Unlocker and save it anywhere you want. We’re going to need it in a moment.
Browse to the location you downloaded the Unlocker to. Extract the contents of the archive. This process works best when the folders are on the same drive (e.g. the VMware root folder and extracted archive are both found on the C:\ drive).
Once extracted, ensure VMware is completely closed. Then, right-click the win-install command script, and select Run as administrator. The script will open a Command Prompt and the patch-script will run. Pay attention! The script will whizz by, and you need to catch any “File not found” messages.
The most common reason for a “file not found” or “system cannot find the file specified” is installing VMware Workstation Player in different location to the default folder, and executing the patch from a different directory as mentioned above.
Once the patch completes, reopen VMware.
Create macOS Virtual Machine
Select Create a New Virtual Machine. Choose I will install the operating system later. On the next screen, select Apple Mac OS X from the drop-down menu. If you do not see the Apple Mac OS X option, the patch hasn’t installed.
Next, we need to choose a name for the virtual machine. Choose something easy to remember, then copy the path below to a memorable location — we’re going to need it to make some edits in a moment. On the next screen, stick with the suggested maximum hard disk size, then select Store virtual disk as a single file. Complete the virtual disk creation wizard.
Now we have to edit the hardware specifications, as well as tell VMware where the macOS VMDK is.
From the main VMware screen, select the macOS virtual machine, right-click, selecting Settings. Like VirtualBox, bump the virtual machine memory up to at least 4 GB. You can allocate more if you have RAM to spare.
Next, edit the number of available processors to 2.
Underneath, remove the hard disk we created. Immediately select Add > Hard Disk > SATA (Recommended), then Use an existing virtual disk.
Browse to the same VMDK used in the VirtualBox section of the article. Select Open, then Finish. Now, close VMware.
We have to make a small edit to a single file now. Head to location you stored the macOS virtual machine. The default location is:
C:\Users\YOURNAME\Documents\Virtual Machines\YOUR MAC OS X FOLDER
Browse to macOS.vmx, right-click, and select Open with…, selecting Notepad from the “How do you want to open this file” panel. Of course, if you prefer an alternative text editor, use that. Scroll to the bottom of the configuration file and add the following line:
smc.version = "0"
Save, and exit Notepad.
Open VMware, select the macOS virtual machine, and press Play.
There are a couple of things that can (and probably will) go wrong during the macOS virtual machine installation in VMware Player Workstation. I’ll list a few, and their quick troubleshoot.
If you cannot see “Apple Mac OS X” during the virtual machine creation wizard, then you need to revisit the patch process. Ensure every process associated with VMware Player is off.
If you receive the message “Mac OS X is not supported with binary translation” when starting the virtual machine, there is a strong chance you need to activate virtualization in your BIOS/UEFI configuration.
If you receive the message “VMware Player unrecoverable error: (vcpu-0)” when starting the virtual machine, you need to head back to the macOS.vmx configuration file and ensure you added the extra line and saved the edit.
Try It Out!
You’ve now created a macOS virtual machine in either VirtualBox or VMware Player. Give macOS a try out before you make the switch from Windows, or use it to access some of the best apps Apple has to offer.
What do you use your macOS virtual machine for? Do you prefer VirtualBox or VMware Player? Let us know your thoughts below!