How to set up MacOS in VirtualBox

Even though Dave’s Computers in New Jersey fixes Mac computers, I am mainly a Windows guy. I know Mac inside and out but hesitate to pay the premium that Apple charges for its hardware. For the price of a 27” Mac, I could build two, perhaps three high spec Windows computers. That makes jumping to MacOS hard to justify and why I installed High Sierra on VirtualBox over the weekend. To try before I buy.

VirtualBox is a free virtual machine platform from Oracle. It works in Windows and can create a virtual machine within which you can install another operating system. We use an Ubuntu system for testing but this is the first time I have built an Apple version. This process uses a copy of MacOS High Sierra and installs it onto a Windows machine. I think it’s the ideal way to see if you like it before shelling out the money to buy one for real.

Installing MacOS in VirtualBox

Many of the guides for installing MacOS in VirtualBox don’t make for easy reading so I thought I would write one myself. You will need a couple of things to get started. You will need a reasonably recent computer capable of running a virtual machine (VM). You will also need a copy of VirtualBox and a copy of MacOS High Sierra.

  1. Install VirtualBox onto your computer and start it up.
  2. Select New and call it ‘MacOS’. Naming is important so remember exactly what you called it. You’ll see why in a little while.
  3. Select Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan (64-bit) as the version.
  4. Set memory to 4096MB and select Create a virtual hard disk now.
  5. Select Create.
  6. Select VDI VirtualBox Image and Dynamically Allocated disk space.
  7. Select Create.
  8. Select your new VM and select Settings.
  9. Select System from the left pane and set base memory to the maximum in the green bar.
  10. Uncheck Floppy in Boot Order.
  11. Select the Processor tab and select the maximum in the green slider.
  12. Select Display on the left and increase Video Memory to 128Mb.
  13. Select Storage and check the MacOS Controller is set to SATA Port 0 on the right.
  14. Select OK and then shut down VirtualBox.
  15. Open the VirtualBox folder in Windows Explorer.
  16. Press Shift and right click an empty space in the folder and select Open Command Prompt here.
  17. Type VBoxManage modifyvm “MacOS”  – - cpuidset 00000001 000106e5 00100800 0098e3fd bfebfbff’ into the CMD window you just opened and hit Enter.
  18. Type VBoxManage setextradata “MacOS” “VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiSystemProduct” “iMac11,3” and hit Enter.
  19. Type VBoxManage setextradata “MacOS” “VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiSystemVersion” “1.0” and hit Enter.
  20. Type VBoxManage setextradata “MacOS” “VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiBoardProduct” “Iloveapple” and hit Enter.
  21. Type VBoxManage setextradata “MacOS” “VBoxInternal/Devices/smc/0/Config/DeviceKey” and hit Enter. “ourhardworkbythesewordsguardedpleasedontsteal(c)AppleComputerInc”
  22. Type VBoxManage setextradata “MacOS” and hit Enter. “VBoxInternal/Devices/smc/0/Config/GetKeyFromRealSMC” 1
  23. Type VBoxManage setextradata “MacOS” VBoxInternal2/EfiGopMode 4 and hit Enter.
  24. Start VirtualBox and start your MacOS VM.
  25. Select Disk Utilities from the VirtualBox menu in the VM screen.
  26. Erase VBOX harddisk and select vmdisk as the Name, MAC OS as format and GUID Partition Map as the scheme.
  27. Hit Erase and close the Disk Utility window once complete.
  28. Select the new option ‘vmdisk’ from the installation options and Continue.
  29. Complete the installation of MacOS and allow it to update.
  30. Start using your new Mac!

You can see in these text instructions ‘MacOS’. This part is why naming is important. What you call your installation has to be reflected exactly in these commands otherwise they won’t work.

The installation process may take a little while but be patient as it will finish. Once done, the machine will reboot and then boot into MacOS. You now have a fully working, fully featured Mac to play with!