How to Install macOS Big Sur in VirtualBox on Windows

Jul 15, 2021 - 14 Comments

How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows

Are you interested in running macOS Big Sur or Monterey from a Windows PC? If you don’t want to spend money on a Mac, you can use a virtual machine and still try out macOS, thanks to VirtualBox.

Before you start making assumptions, this is not a super-complicated Hackintosh setup. Instead, you will be running VirtualBox natively on your Windows computer and installing macOS as a guest operating system within VirtualBox. Unlike a Hackintosh, you don’t need any special hardware to get macOS up and running on your computer. With VirtualBox, you can install multiple operating systems on a single computer and seamlessly switch between them as you desire. The operating systems basically run within an application, which virtualizes the hardware, and the OS itself doesn’t know the difference.

If you’re interested in running macOS Big Sur or macOS Monterey in Windows using VirtualBox, then read along.

Requirements for Running macOS in VirtualBox

This is going to be a pretty long procedure, but we’ll make it as simple as possible. However, before you get started, you’ll need to download VirtualBox and some additional essential files. The following links should be helpful to download the files necessary to get macOS Big Sur up and running on your VirtualBox virtual machine without any issues. However, you’ll need to obtain the ISO file for the latest version of macOS Big Sur by yourself. You can also use a different macOS version, provided you have an ISO of that release too.

Performance will depend on how fast the computer is that is running VirtualBox, so obviously the better the PC the better that macOS will run virtualized on it.

How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows

Now that you have all the necessary files downloaded to your computer, you’re ready to go ahead with the procedure. This tutorial is detailed for educational purposes only.

  1. Install the VirtualBox software on your computer. After that, click on the VirtualBox Extension Pack file that you downloaded.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  2. Clicking on the extension pack will open VirtualBox on Windows with a pop-up prompting you about the installation. Click on “Install” to finish this step.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  3. You’ve successfully installed the extension pack. Now, you’re ready to create your virtual machine. Click on “New” in the VirtualBox software.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  4. Here, give a valid name for your virtual machine. For example, “macOS Big Sur” as shown below. Make sure the type is set to Mac OS X and the 64-bit version is selected. Once you’re done, click on “Expert mode” to proceed to the next step.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  5. In this step, you’ll be selecting the memory size or RAM that will be allocated for your virtual machine. It’s recommended to set half of your total system RAM for the guest OS. Make sure, “Create a virtual hard disk now” is selected and then click on “Create”.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  6. Now, use the slider to set the virtual hard disk size according to your preference. Although this depends on how much free storage space you have on your computer, we recommend you to allocate 100 GB for the virtual machine. Select “VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk)” for the hard disk file type and click on “Create”.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  7. Now, click on “Settings” in VirtualBox as shown in the screenshot below.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  8. Head over to the “System” category and click on “Processor” from the top menu. You’ll be able to use the slider to adjust processor allocation. It’s recommended to allocate half of your processor’s core count for the virtual machine. Keep in mind that if you have a 4 core/8 thread processor, it will show up in VirtualBox as 8 CPU cores. In that case, you can set 4 cores for processor allocation.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  9. Next, click on “Display” from the left pane and move the slider all the way to the right for “Video Memory”.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  10. Now, go to the “Storage” category and click on “Empty” under Storage Devices. Then, click on the optical disk icon on the right and choose “Create a Virtual Optical Disk” from the dropdown menu.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  11. You can click on “Add” to browse for the macOS Big Sur ISO file that you download using File Explorer. Select the ISO file and click on “Choose”.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  12. Now, click on “OK” to exit VirtualBox settings and close the VirtualBox application as well.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  13. Open “Command Prompt” on your PC. Be sure to run Command Prompt as an administrator.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  14. Now, open the VBox Code text file in Notepad. Copy/Paste the first command line in Command Prompt and hit “Enter”.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  15. Next, you’ll need to paste the remaining lines, but before that, you will need to replace “Your Virtual Machine Name” with the name you used while setting up your machine in VirtualBox. For example, it’s “macOS Big Sur” in this instance. After replacing it, copy/paste all the remaining lines in Command Prompt and hit “Enter”.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  16. Now, open VirtualBox again and click on “Start”. Wait a couple of minutes for VirtualBox to perform the operation. You should be able to see the macOS installation progress in VirtualBox now. This is going to take several minutes to complete, but once it’s done, you can follow the on-screen instructions to set up your Mac, which is similar to setting up any new Apple device.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  17. Although you got macOS up and running on your computer, we’re not quite finished yet. The default resolution of macOS or any guest OS that you install on VirtualBox is 1024×768, which is probably not what you want. However, this can be changed using the macOS screen resolution code. Close VirtualBox, run Command Prompt as an administrator, and copy/paste the first line from the screen resolution code file. Click “Enter”.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows
  18. Now, make sure you use your VM name and replace the resolution value in the second line of code according to your monitor resolution or personal preference. Then, copy/paste this line in Command Prompt. Hit “Enter” and exit CMD.

    How to Install macOS Big Sur Using VirtualBox on Windows

The next time you start your virtual machine, VirtualBox will load up macOS, and at a higher screen resolution.

Here’s a reality check. Don’t expect your macOS virtual machine to operate anywhere nearly as fast as an actual Mac, or Windows natively running on a computer. A sluggish experience is to be expected. The performance of the virtual machine will also be heavily dependent on your system hardware.

That being said, installing macOS on a Windows computer virtually is so much easier with software like VirtualBox and could come a long way in helping you decide if you want to switch to a Mac. You can connect your iOS devices to your Virtual Mac just like a real Mac, try out various software, apps, and a lot more.

This procedure primarily focuses on macOS Big Sur, but it works the same with other recent releases of macOS too, provided you have the ISO file for that particular version. If you want to update the macOS installed in your virtual machine to the latest software, you can update the system software just like you normally would on an actual Mac.

Likewise, VirtualBox can also be used to virtually install and run Windows on a Mac. The process is fairly similar if you have the required files, mainly the Windows ISO and VirtualBox.

Did you get macOS running in VirtualBox on Windows? What are your thoughts on this process and how it all works? Let us know your experiences and thoughts in the comments.

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Posted by: Hamlin Rozario in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks

14 Comments

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  1. nona mona says:

    it worked i installed it with this guide
    after updating the new extension 🤣😍😂

    yeah, before the new extension it didn’t work

  2. Alex says:

    Error downloading update when installing on formatted disk. What’s the problem? Workaround?

  3. Stil Masaj says:

    Stuck at [EB|#LOG:EXITBS:START]

    Cpu: AMD A8 7600

  4. Keith Oxford says:

    I do not get a disk to install Big Sur on when starting the VM up after running the settings. No disks are displayed to install it on. Any suggestions

    • Cristian Raimondo says:

      Same issue here but after a while remember that is necessary to give format to the virtual drive.
      Instead of go to install BigSur, select Disk Utility on the first screen, select you virtual hard drive and click on “erase” to give it format as AFPS, the format admitted to install BigSur.

  5. Geeeee says:

    Does it have video acceleration like normal guest os’es? If it does, good performance is to be expected. But if it doesn’t, can you do anything with the vm?

  6. Paul Baughman says:

    In the past, Apple did not allow MacOS to run on any hardware but their own. This included running in VMs. This was explictly stated in the license agreement.

    Has Apple changed their stance on this?

    • Jon says:

      Last attempts in Q1 2021 as soon as you logged in with your Apple ID, it would blow up the install rendering it unusable. I have built install of BigSur 10.16 working on VMWare workstation, haven’t and won’t put creds in for Apple ID. Due to this it virtualizing Mac OS is extremely limited in capability and benefit for the outcome. Would be nice if this changed.

  7. Mark Kennedy says:

    The only box ‘Big Sur’ needs to be in is a pine one, buried under 6 feet of reinforced, high tensile concrete.

    Being a Mac user from Day 1, ‘Big Sur’ is positively the worst upgrade from Apple I have ever experienced in terms of the flow-on effects and complications it has created on my system.

    And I even waited until 11.4, usually by which all the major issues would have been sorted. ‘Big Sur’ would be unremarkable if it came out of Redmond, but it comes out of Cupertino, and Mac users frankly expect better.

    I’ve become so disillusioned that I’m now calling it, ‘Big Suc’.

    • Igor says:

      I actually think Big Sur is OK compared to say Catalina, but Mojave is the best modern release out there. El Capitan and Mavericks were pretty good too. Still nothing is as fast or clean as Snow Leopard. I have a 12 year old Mac running Snow Leopard still and it feels much faster than my M1 Mac, obviously because the M1 with macOS Big Shhhh is bogged down by so many silly things that we don’t need or want. I wish we could turn it all off for a Pro Mode and make it fast and lean again.

      Anyway I would not expect good performance in virtualization. Hopefully the M1 Mac gains Boot Camp with Windows ARM soon.

      I have not tried Parallels yet myself.

  8. Admin says:

    We fail to mention that without graphics acceleration the experience will be abysmal. A virtual machine is also not “natively” running. Native would be installing a true Hackintosh.

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