How to Install macOS Sonoma in a Virtual Machine with UTM
You can install and run macOS Sonoma in a virtual machine, for free, with the use of UTM. UTM runs on Macs, iPhones, and iPads, but we’re going to focus specifically on installing macOS Sonoma in a UTM virtual machine running on a Mac.
Yes this means you can run a virtualized macOS Sonoma installation atop macOS Sonoma, macOS Ventura, or even macOS Monterey, depending on the version of system software the host operating system is running.
This tutorial will walk through the complete set of steps to install macOS Sonoma into a virtual machine, using UTM on the Mac.
How to Install MacOS Sonoma in a UTM Virtual Machine
We’re going to setup a virtual machine for macOS Sonoma:
- Download the latest version of macOS Sonoma IPSW from here (14.2.1 as of this writing, direct download link is here)
- Download UTM for Mac for free and install by copying it to the /Applications folder
- Launch UTM on the Mac
- Choose “Create a New Virtual Machine” or click the + button to create a new virtual machine
- Choose “Virtualize”
- Select “MacOS 12+”
- At the IPSW selection screen, click on “Browse” and select the UniversalMac_Restore.ipsw image file you downloaded earlier
- Configure the hardware allocation of the virtual machine, it is recommended to set at least the following minimums for performance: 8GB RAM, 4 CPU cores, 64GB of disk space or larger
- Name the virtual machine to save it, like “MacOS Sonoma” and select “Save”
- You’ll now be at the UTM screen again and you can see the MacOS Sonoma VM, so select it and then click on the play/start button to launch the Sonoma virtual machine
- When you start the VM you will be asked to confirm if you want to install MacOS and confirm that you do
- Let the installation of MacOS Sonoma in the virtual machine continue by restoring through the IPSW file, it will not look like a typical macOS installation because it is restoring rather than installing (it may look like it’s spinning but there is a progress indicator in the title bar of the UTM window for macOS Sonoma)
- When finished installing, macOS Sonoma will boot into the familiar welcome screen of MacOS
- Go through the typical macOS Sonoma setup process, you’ll soon be on the desktop of a virtualized macOS Sonoma installation within UTM
You’re now running MacOS Sonoma, virtualized, in UTM.
This is a full macOS Sonoma installation, with access to the internet, the ability to install system software updates as usual, and if you sign in with an Apple ID you can use all the typical Apple services inside the virtual machine as well. This makes VM’s really useful for testing and development, since it’s basically a virtual Mac, and whatever you do inside the VM won’t impact the host computer (minus any files/folders you decide to share between the two anyway).
Using UTM to install macOS Sonoma into a virtual machine is probably the easiest approach out there, but there are other virtualization options as well, some free, and some paid, with varying features and capabilities. If you’re looking for free solutions, UTM, Viable, and VirtualBox are excellent, whereas if you’re serious about virtualization and want more pro features, you may want to investigate VMWare and Parallels.
While this article is obviously geared towards running macOS Sonoma in a virtual machine atop MacOS, you can also run Sonoma beta in a VM using UTM, run Windows 11 on a Mac with UTM, run Fedora Linux in a Mac VM with UTM, and much more.