How to Install macOS Big Sur in VirtualBox on Windows

It’s been a long time since Apple was a distant runner-up to Microsoft in the personal computer world. Still, Windows is the most popular desktop operating system (OS). If you are primarily a Windows user, you may not need to delve into the Mac world very often. Instead of buying a MacBook, you can install macOS in a virtual machine on your Windows PC.

Can I run macOS on Windows?

If you are a power Windows user, you know that you can run Linux or other versions of Windows inside Hyper-V† If you’re a power Mac user, you know you can do it Running Windows on a Mac with Boot Camp, or a virtual machine such as VMWare Fusion, Parallels, or VirtualBox. But can you run a macOS on Windows? You could run macOS on VMWare in Windowsbut using VirtualBox is free.

You can install macOS in VirtualBox on Windows if you:

  • A legally obtained copy of a macOS
  • At least 2 GB of free RAM
  • A 64-bit based CPU with at least 4 logical CPUs
  • Admin access on the PC

Fortunately, many computers today exceed minimum hardware requirements.

Get a copy of macOS

Open the Apple App Store and download a copy of BigSur. It’s a whole operating system, so it’s a big download. Make sure you have the space and time to download it. If you do not have access to download macOS BigSur from the App Store, we do not recommend using other versions on the web for security reasons.

Install VirtualBox on Windows

The latest version of VirtualBox that seems to work with this process is VirtualBox v6.1.26. Go to the Download VirtualBox 6.1.26 site and select VirtualBox-6.1.26-145957-Win.exe† Also select the VirtualBox extension pack Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-6.1.26-145957.vbox-extpack

  1. Install VirtualBox by running the downloaded installer.
  1. When the VirtualBox installation is complete, install the VirtualBox extension pack.

Create a virtual machine in VirtualBox

Think of creating a virtual machine as building a computer inside your computer. This gives macOS its own place to install and allocate the resources it needs to run.

  1. Select the New knob.
  1. Enter a name for the virtual machine in the Name field. A simple name is easier to work with, such as macOS† Select where the macOS virtual machine will be installed in the Machine map field. For a PC with multiple drives, choose a drive with at least 100 GB of free space. If possible, choose an SSD drive. That improves performance. Or leave it as default. VirtualBox will automatically de Type until Mac OS X and Version until Mac OS X (64-bit) based on the name entered for the virtual machine.
  1. Allocate as much memory as possible to the macOS VM without exceeding 50% of the total memory. Your PC still needs resources too.
  1. Ensure that Create a virtual hard drive now is selected and select To create Get on.
  1. Choose a file type on the hard drive. The default VHD is good. Or choose another one based on what you need.
    1. VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image): Only works in VirtualBox. If you could migrate the VM to another VM host like Hyper-V or VMWare, don’t choose it.
    2. VHD (Virtual Hard Disk): Good for migrating the VM to Hyper-V.
    3. VMDK (virtual machine disk): Good for migrating the VM to VMWare.
  1. If you are creating the macOS on an SSD or nvMe drive, you can select: Dynamically assigned† SSDs are fast enough to resize without impacting performance much. If you’re not sure, choose Fixed size† Select Next one Get on.
  1. On the File location and size screen, leave the default folder path. Allocate at least 60 GB to the virtual hard disk. If you plan to install multiple programs or upgrade macOS to Monterey, use a minimum of 100 GB. Select To create Get on.
  1. When the VM creation process ends, select the macOS VM and select the Settings knob.
  1. Go to the System page than the Motherboard tab.In the Boot Order uncheck field floppy† Use the up and down arrows to adjust the boot order Optical is the first, and Hard Drive is in second place. The default settings for the other options are fine to leave as they are.
  1. Go to the Processor tab. To adjust Processor(s) up to at least 2 CPUs. If your CPU has 4 cores and 8 logical processors, VirtualBox will show that you can use up to 8 CPUs. Do not use more than half. Leave Execution Limit Bee 100% and Enable PAE/NX should also be selected by default. Select Okay Get on.
  1. Go to the Display page, then the Screen tab. Max out Video memory until 128MB† Leave the default settings for the other options on this tab selected.
  1. Go to the Storage page. Select Controller: SATA and then check the Using Host I/O Cache box. Then select the Empty storage device.

Select the DVD icon next to the Optical drive field. Then select Choose a disc file† Navigate to where you saved the macOS .iso download and select it. Select Okay Get on.

  1. Exit VirtualBox to complete the next step. The next step won’t work if you don’t exit it or if it continues to run as a zombie process. You cannot create the macOS VM. After closing VirtualBox, open task management and make sure the process is not listed.
  1. Go to GitHub and get the VirtualBox macOS Codes† Copy them from there and paste them into Notepad. The codes need to be edited to match your macOS VM situation.

If you installed VirtualBox in a different location than the one shown on the first line, edit the first line to match.

Change in the other lines Your virtual machine name to macOS, the name you gave this VM.

  1. Open the Command Prompt as Administrator† Copy and enter the first line of code. This will change the home directory in the command prompt to where you installed VirtualBox. Then copy, paste and run each line individually in the command prompt.

Install macOS Big Sur

  1. When the last command finishes, close the Command Prompt and reopen VirtualBox. Choose your macOS VM and select Get started
  1. You see a lot of white text on a black background. This may take several minutes. If the step with white text and black background takes more than 15-20 minutes, it probably won’t work. You will see the Apple icon and a progress bar. If you get this far, you’ll probably make it.
  1. Then you will see the Language screen. Choose the desired language and select the next arrow to go to the macOS Recovery screen.
  1. Select Disk Utility
  1. On the Disk Utility screen, select the VBOX HARD DRIVE MEDIA in the left column and select To clear
  1. It will ask you to confirm that you want to delete it. You also need to rename the volume. Any name is enough. Select To clear Get on.
  1. After the volume has been erased and renamed, select Done Get on.
  1. close the Disk Utility window.
  1. On the recovery screen, select Install macOS Big Sur and then Get on
  1. It asks you for Get on again. You will then be prompted twice to agree to the Software License Agreement (SLA). Agree if you want to continue.
  2. Select the drive where you want to install macOS Big Sur. Only your macOS drive should be listed, so click that. Then select Get on
  1. It starts installing. The screen may indicate that there are approximately 12 to 18 minutes left. It is not correct as this part can take up to an hour.
  1. It goes to a black screen with white text and then to a gray screen with the Apple logo saying “Less than a minute left…” There’s a lot more than a minute left.
  1. Finally you see the Select your country or region screen. You are now in the configuration of your freshly installed macOS. Go through the setup.
  1. After you complete the installation, take a snapshot of the newly installed state. This makes it easy to return to if something goes wrong with the macOS VM in the future.

Change the resolution of the macOS Virtual Machine

If you prefer a higher resolution than VirtualBox’s default, you can do that too.

  1. Shut down the macOS virtual machine and close VirtualBox completely.
  2. Open the command prompt as an administrator.
  3. Navigate to where VirtualBox is installed.
  4. Enter the following command:

VBoxManage setextradata “macOS” VBoxInternal2/EfiGraphicsResolution 1920×1080

The last part of the command, 1920×1080 is the resolution. It can be changed to any of the 1280×720, 1920×1080, 2560×1440, 2048×1080, 3840×2160, 5120×2880 or 7680×4320 supported resolutions. However, some may not work for you. After the command finishes, restart VirtualBox and your macOS VM to check if the change works.

Tips for Using macOS in VirtualBox

If you see a circular slash during installation, such as a no parking sign, the installation will not work. Switch off the machine, because there is no point in waiting.

Double-check that you have applied the VirtualBox codes correctly. Close VirtualBox completely and reapply if necessary.

If that doesn’t work, change the VM settings to use less RAM or CPU. Sometimes the PC can’t keep up with a higher setting.

Once the installation is complete, you can change the VM settings to use more RAM or CPUs to improve performance, as long as you don’t do anything else on the host PC.

Have fun with your new macOS virtual machine!

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