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VirtualBox: How to create a macOS High Sierra VM to run on a Mac host system

So I have a MacBook Pro running macOS Sierra (10.12) and I wanted to run a virtual machine (VM) of macOS High Sierra to try out the new operating system. It's always a struggle to get macOS as a guest system running on macOS as the host system, but today was my lucky day and after several failures I managed to get it running! So here is how I did it...

 

 

 

My environment

macOS Sierra 10.12.6, VirtualBox 5.1.28 with installed VirtualBox Extension Pack
You will need at least 4096 MB RAM of host memory, more is better. You also need ~20 GB disk space for the virtual machine, as well as ~18 GB free space temporarily for the creation of the install media.

 

Create a macOS install ISO file for VirtualBox

  • Download macOS High Sierra from the Mac App Store
    • Hint: if you have downloaded macOS High Sierra before the 5th of October, delete it and redownload it. Apple made some changes to the previous released version, especially to the installer, which are important to get this VM running. The version of the "Install macOS High Sierra.app" has to be 13.0.66 or above.
  • Open a Terminal window, create a "virtual USB flash drive"/disk image:
  • Mount it:
  • Put the installer files into this new disk image:
  • Unmount the disk image, so that the resource is not busy for the next step:
  • Convert the disk image into an ISO file (VirtualBox is not capable of booting from a .dmg or .sparseimage file):
  • Move it to the desktop folder and rename the extension of the file to .iso:
  • Delete the sparseimage in the tmp folder:

 

Create the VM

  • Create a new machine
    • Name: macOS (or whatever you want to call it)
    • Type: Mac OS X
    • Version: Mac OS X (64-bit) or macOS 10.13 High Sierra (64-bit)
    • Memory size: 4096 MB
    • Virtual hard disk size: ~20 GB (an empty installation of macOS High Sierra takes about 11,4 GB)
  • Edit the new machine
    • System -> Motherboard -> Boot Order: deactivate Floppy

    • System -> Processor -> change CPU to two, optional: set execution cap to 80% (this value is up to you and your host system configuration)
    • Display -> Screen -> Video Memory: increase it to 128 MB

    • Storage -> virtual hard disk -> don't activate "Solid-state Drive" (this is pretty important, because the macOS installer converts your virtual partition to APFS if it detects it as a solid state drive, unfortunately VirtualBox doesn't support APFS at this moment, so the boot process will fail while installing High Sierra. For non solid state drives, the installer is not going to convert the virtual disk to APFS and leave it untouched as a HFS+ volume)
    • Storage -> Optical Drive ("Empty") -> choose the HighSierra.iso from your desktop folder (to choose it, click on the CD icon next to "SATA Port 1")
    • Audio -> deactivate Enable Audio

    • stick with the default values of all the other options and apply the settings with the "OK" button

 

Installation of macOS High Sierra Part 1

  • Start the VM
  • wait until the language chooser appears and choose your language (optional: change the keyboard layout to your country keyboard layout in the top right corner with a click on the US flag icon)
  • Open Disk Utility
  • Click on "View" in the top left corner of the Disk Utility window and choose "Show All Devices"
  • Highlight "VBOX HARDDISK Me...", then click "Erase", choose a name for the virtual hard disk and click the "Erase" button to partition and format the virtual hard disk
  • When the erase process is done, close Disk Utility
  • Next choose "Install macOS"
  • Click Continue
  • Agree to the terms of the license agreement
  • Choose your previously created virtual hard disk and finally start the installation with a click on "Install"
  • The installer installs some files and after a while the machine will reboot automatically

 

Installation of macOS High Sierra Part 2

  • After the reboot, the VM will display an error message: "Boot Failed. Mac OS X"
  • Because of this error, after 10 seconds, the machine will then do a "fallback boot" into the "Part 1" installation process. Why? VirtualBox doesn't recognize that there is a new disk, containing a second EFI, in which we need to boot into. So we have to do this manually.
  • To do this, restart the machine (CMD+R will hard reset it, or, if the "Part 1"-Installer is already running, click on the Apple logo in the menu bar and choose "Restart").
  • Now you have to be very fast: while the VM restarts, press the fn+F12 keys a few times, so that it gets into the VirtualBox boot manager. You have to be very quick! If the machine is already displaying "Boot Failed. Mac OS X", hit CMD+R to reset it and try again.
  • If you were fast enough, choose "Boot Maintenance Manager" and hit the Enter key.
  • Go to "Boot from File" and hit Enter again.
  • Choose the entry with ...HD(2,GPT)...
  • Choose <macOS Install Data>

  • Choose <Locked Files>

  • Choose <Boot Files>

  • Choose boot.efi, this will boot the machine into the "Part 2" installation process of macOS
  • macOS High Sierra will then continue to install itself.
  • Click through the steps of the "first run wizard"
  • ...and you are done! 🙂
  • Finally shutdown the virtual machine and create a snapshot of it in the Virtual Box main interface, just in case... it's always nice to have a backup 😉

 

Have fun with your newly created virtual machine running macOS High Sierra 10.13!

//Update (2018-02-10): A huge thanks to all of you, who appreciated this article and were thankful for it in the comments. I'm overwhelmed by all the feedback in the comments! Thank you.

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Kommentare (61) Trackbacks (1)
  1. how I get the password?

  2. After: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/install_build

    I get this Error:
    Erasing Disk: 0%… 10%…
    Error erasing disk error number (22, 0)
    A error occurred erasing the disk.

  3. Great! All the other tutorials I found on the web got stuck at the „Boot Failed. Mac OS X“ step. Thank you!

  4. Geiler Typ. Thanks a lot! Seems to work!

  5. When I start the VM im virtualbox I get a reboot after a while which is infinite. Last message has something to do with wrong Power Management.

  6. Thank you so much. It’s a perfect doc to me. 🙂

  7. hat mir super geholfen, danke

  8. Great guide, thanks for that! I needed to press F12 after starting the VM for the first time, otherwise the VM wouldn’t boot from the disk.

  9. Followed all the steps but get a blank black screen at start up… does not take me to the language chooser. I have tried pressing F12 also… stuck – any help?

  10. thanks a lot man!!!

  11. Thanks for this! I was stuck with the problem with the first boot.

    Wish I would’ve found this post earlier 🙂

    I also had problems converting the .cdr.dmg to an .iso file, always kept having errors. I went around the problem by copying the file to an external drive and doing the convert from there – worked like a charm.

    I also had to erase the created virtual disk in the first part of the process through the GUI since I was getting the same error as above

    Erasing Disk: 0%… 10%…
    Error erasing disk error number (22, 0)
    A error occurred erasing the disk.

    Once I erased the created partition via Disk utility GUI -> I was able to proceed.

  12. Changing to ‚boot.efi‘ works for the second part works only I haven’t been able to boot afterwards into the the ‚first run wizard‘

  13. Thanks, worked great on Arch Linux using Virtualbox 5.2 🙂

  14. Thank you for this guide!

  15. Thanks a lot it worked . . .

  16. After completing all of the steps I receive a
    The path /system/Installation/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg appears to be missing or damaged

    Any ideas?

  17. Thank you for this instruction.
    Everything is working without problems (after three other wrong solutions)

    I think thats the best google result that google has given to me today.

  18. Thanks. The tip about finding the needed boot.efi was exactly what I needed. Now up and running…

  19. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I got stuck at the failed boot and none of the other installs directions mentioned that part.

  20. It worked thx

    but when I shut it down to change some settings in VirtualBox and reopened it, I had to do Install High Serria again starting from Part two, is it because I changed some settings in VirtualBox?

  21. Hi Tobi

    Thank you! You helped me a lot.

    Do you know if I can also use this same iso file to install the HS in the VMWare?

  22. I have a problem: after I installed and updated the system, when I turn off and turn on again the VM, the black screen that appeared when I installed at the 1st time was showed again and the installation windows appears when the VM loaded.

  23. I found the problem but I don’t know how to solve it. I had to define the initialization disk on this screen. What I need to do to keep this setup? Another doubt: how to install the „Guest Additions“ on Mac? I need to resize the window and keep it with 1280×720 resolution. Thanks.

  24. Thanks for answering, Tobi. I read the post you cited but I did not find there a solution for me. I need to open a 1280×720 window vm and I saw only another dimensions (Where N can be one of 0,1,2,3,4 referring to the 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768, 1280×1024, 1440×900 screen resolution respectively.). Do you know if I can open this exactly dimension (1280×720)?

  25. Hi. Just to tell you that I got the 1280×720 resolution. The related post: https://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=85846&p=408709#p408709

    Thanks for all.

  26. Great Job! This is awesome article =)

  27. Fantastic Step by Step Guide, could not have managed without it!

    Just have one small issue, the Graphics are not working like I expected, I have a new MacBookPro with Touchbar in 15″ and the screen I set only covers 2/3 or so.

    Do you have a trick, to fix that?

    Kind regards,

    Jeffry

  28. Thank you for detail guide and for the boot manager trick. That saved a lot of time!!!

  29. Hi
    Great guide.
    Thought i am trying on 10.13.2 new installation, No other setups but cant get the sudo /App script to work.
    ”Command not found”
    Im writing
    sudo /Applications/Install\ myfolder\ tosierra\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/install_build

    The sierra app is 5.2 gb version 13.2.77
    And newest VB with extensionpack

  30. Worked great for me on my MBP11,3. Thank you very much!!
    But, significantly, you didn’t mention anything about the networking. It is important to choose the right network adapter, and „Intel PRO/1000 MT Server (82545EM)“ worked for me using NAT (though Bridged would probably work as well).
    If you select an incompatible adapter (like the MT Desktop), you will be presented with a page titled: „How Do You Connect?“ and you will need to choose the ’not connected‘ option. This will be a problem later if you decide you do want to have access to the internet, and change the network settings in VB. My experience indicates that this will likely force the boot sequence to display the re-install screen on when you boot.

    • Thank you for this hint. I left the network default and didn‘t have any problems with connection to the Internet from within the VM.

    • He didn’t also mention that you should boot from the floppy. Did he have to? Of course not!

      People will try all sorts of uneducated options, with no logical explanation and then complain that if fails! Duh…

  31. Followed all of your instructions upto right after to creating the VM. When starting the VM, the initial boot just keeps looping. Ending with a message like „Please switch to XPC or bottstrap_check():…“ Any ideas on what is happening here and how to fix it? Thanks.

    Useful info:
    Running
    ubuntu 16.04
    virtualbox: 5.2.6
    created iso from High Sierra installer as of January 2018.

  32. Great tutorial. Worked perfectly for me. Thanks a lot.

  33. worked fine for me too, thank you

  34. Thx for this good Tutorial!
    One Hint: The boot before the wizard sticks during my installation and I had to make one restart; after that everything works fine

  35. Outstanding documentation.

    Articles such as this is a huge benefit to everyone.

  36. Vielen Danke! Ich hatte keine Probleme!!! (I’m just practicing my German)

  37. Hi Tobi,

    I would like to install VM Mac OS 10.8.5. I am running my Mac on High Sierra 10.3.2. Would the procedure be the same as you explained here?
    Thank, Nenad

  38. Danke, hat gut geklappt!

    Wie bekomme ich das fertige Image denn denn auf einem Virtualbox unter Windows 7 / 10 zum funktionieren?
    Wenn ich das Image kopiere und starte, führt das dort in eine Bootschleife.
    Muss man da noch was anders machen?

    • Das ist aus lizenztechnischen Gründen so. Laut Apple EULA ist es nicht erlaubt macOS auf nicht-Apple Hardware zu installieren (Virtualisierung eingeschlossen).

  39. Tobi,

    Great article. I saw other people as the question but did not see an answer. After reboot the VM wants to start from installation again. What needs to change that it boots into the already installed Mac OS?

    Thanks Kobus

    • Hey Kobus,

      have you changed the boot order to HDD in the setting of the VM or have you removed the ISO from the virtual disc device?

  40. macOS 10.13.3 is working well on VB 5.2.6r 120293 on Win 10 Pro (1709 – 16299.248) host HW Intel Core i5-6400 16 GB DDR4

  41. I floowed the whole process with success till the end but after all the steps the VM is not starting. I get „UEFI Interactive Shell v2.1″….“press ESC to skip startup.msh or any key to continue“. I’ve removed the disk image e changed the priority in the VM options. I also tried to boot from „EFI Hard Drive“ and „EFI Internal Shell“ but didn’t work. Can you help me?

  42. I wanted to thank you as well! Every step is so well explained!

  43. Thanks Thanks Thanks!
    Finally I can test my post install script on high sierra.
    I wish you a great day sir.


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