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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 (123) 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?

    • I’m having this issue aswell…Anyone has some help?

      • It unfortunately means the .ISO wasn’t created correctly. The same thing happened to me with the above instructions. For the life of me, I can NOT create a bootable high sierra no matter what tutorials I use.

        However my regular Sierra .iso boots fine with these Virtual Box settings so that’s cool I guess.

      • What‘s your host system? Windows?

  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.

  44. Many thanks for your guide, easy to follow and works great

  45. If anyone is having issues with Virtualbox, complete part 1 as above, go here: https://www.howtogeek.com/289594/how-to-install-macos-sierra-in-virtualbox-on-windows-10/ and complete part 4 and 5 (the commands work on Ubuntu 16.04 and probably Windows 10, not sure about Mac). Part 2 of this guide should lead you to the end 🙂

  46. Excellent guide, the only one that works for me for all the google results provided.

  47. 这些对我很有帮助,感谢!
    this is helpful for me, thx!

  48. Thanks so much for posting this! Without it I would have never gotten my VM machine to run!

  49. Excellent work! Thank you very much, you saved me days of try and errors !

  50. Great work! Thanks for your patience to get this done 🙂

  51. Thanks a ton! This was absolutely perfect!

  52. Just tried this … using Mac OS as host, and Mac Os 10.13.3 running vbox 5.28.

    All worked nice. The important thing here: you only need to remove the installation ISO.
    Then there is no need to „hurry“ at all. Because then vbox tries to boot from the virtual disk, will fail, and then the rest of your explanations kick in.

  53. Hey,

    Just like to say „Many Thanks“! Mac OS vm has been the most challenged one, and I’ve followed many instructions and yours is the only one that works.

    Thanks again for a great, details instructions.

  54. Thanks so much for this! Saved me having to by VMWare Fusion to run a Mac inside my Mac. I’m using this to check I can get my developers up-to-speed on their clean machines.

    Toby

  55. Excellent !! (The part Fn+F12 was hard :-))

  56. A+++++ failed getting 10.13.3 working when it came out, but now on 10.13.4’s desktop. This will help me migrate off macOS Server for DNS/VPN \o/ Thanks much

  57. Hi there

    thanks for the very good tutorial which served the purpose! One thing I encountered is that I installed a 10.12 image the way you describe and all runs well till today. All the security updates etc installed from the image inside as well so the current version is 10.12.6. However, when I tried to upgrade to 10.13 all went well and no error messages etc appeared BUT the system rebooted into the existing 10.12 version …

    What went wrong under the hood and what do I have to tweak to get it into booting the new system ??

    Thanks in advance

    MG

  58. I come to the part where HS installs itself but then does not reboot for the „first run wizard“ I get a shell command line. Trying to re-apply F12 method the …HD(2,GPT)… is no longer present. Any solutions?
    THY
    Robert

  59. I’ve not seen the definitive answer to the vm looping through the install process again after a restart or power on after shutdown. I did the F12 and everything. I made sure I set the correct drive (the Mac HDD) as the startup disk both in System Preferences and during the boot as the link to Apple support indicates, but still having issue. now it has stopped completely at „libBootCache: unable to get playiist for /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/sqlindex-wal: 2 No such file or directory“. I saw someone ask if they changed the boot order or any other settings. In my case I have don’t nothing but restart. This is third time going through the process. I did initially reset the order for startup to put HDD in front of the CD drive that still has the ISO installer. One time I did take out the installer, but every time, I keep coming to the same problem and errors.

    Kobus
    Februar 16th, 2018
    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
    Antworten
    Tobi
    Februar 16th, 2018
    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?
    Antworten

  60. Hi,

    Great article, and definitely it clear many concepts about how to install MAC OSX High Sierra. Just only a problem:

    Trying to install MAC OSX High Sierra 10.13.4 on VB running in a MAC, and all steps works fine except the „Choose boot.efi, this will boot the machine into the „Part 2″ installation process of macOS“

    I have just selected the boot.efi file and the process gets hanged on a black screen and I do not see the second part of the installation. Any ideas?

    (if you need more details about the parameters, i will attach an screenshot)

  61. Thank you! The Fn-F12 process worked like a charm. (note it’s ctrl-F12 for win hosts)

    Can anyone help with the system update process once onto 10.13.3.. as the standard update to 10.13.4 proceeds but then reboots into the main OS rather than the update process.

    However..at this point I don’t see any additional EFI boot files I can select in order to get into the update process.

    Any ideas on what to try?

    Thanks!

  62. Mate you’re a life saver thank you so much for this detailed guide and all the shortcuts for copy paste. You sir are an amazing person!

  63. Thank you. It worked

  64. This is unbelievable. I am going to host a wiki detailing my technical conquests, as trivial as they may be in comparison, from this day forward, as a tribute to this page.

    You have not only accomplished an awesome feat of technological acrobatics but have also authoritatively demonstrated how to make a how-to!

    Can’t wait for work to see this!

  65. Is there a way one can install VirtualBox guest additions into the MacOS VM.

  66. In the “Boot From File” in boot maintenance manager I got nothing, it just blank gray nothing to select

  67. huge help! Thanks!

  68. Btw, Great tuto!
    Need to install french keyboard?
    When asked to press the key at the right side of the left Shift key (which is the “ (instead of the single „<" key). That will do the trick, else you will be stuck with a misconfigured french keyboard with @ and < switched.

  69. Great instructions.
    However, I got stuck at part 2. After I had chosen boot.efi the screen goes blank, a flat cursor appears, and that’s it. I have waited some 20 minutes, but nothing changes. Does anyone have any tips for this?

  70. Ok, after a lot of testing I found a solution. I have added a new boot option: to boot from that boot.efi described above. I moved that new boot option to the top, and then it booted properly to the second part of the installation.

  71. How does it work with upgrades? is there something that needs to be done or i can just update to new version of high Sierra ? as in to 10,13,3 to 10.13.4 for example. will a simple new version 10.14 also update or does this need to be installed again separately ?

    • For minor updates (10.13.x): I have tried to update the system via the app store, but afterwards the VM was completely broken and didn‘t boot up anymore.
      For major upgrades (10.x): I can‘t provide that info yet, since there is no 10.14 available at this moment, but because the minor update already failed, I would suggest, that an upgrade would fail, too 🙁
      Haven‘t found a working solution yet…

  72. Danke for that, first time trying on a VM and I have to say I spent a few hours on it with the problems I encountered, especially that one. All clear, smooth and well detailed. Bravo!

  73. It does not install for me. am getting stuck on endSeed wenn starting the ISO

  74. So it appears 10.14 Mojave will install and convert to APFS no matter what. So unless VirtualBox supports APFS, it seems to be stuck.

  75. Anyone know how to have an iPhone connect to the VM without crashing the VM?

  76. Thank you!!

  77. MacOS 10.13.5
    Rezept für vollständige Freude. Sehr vielen Dank!

  78. Is it safe to delete both the installation files (the .iso and the install application)?

    • Absolutely! Your VM boots from it‘s own virtual hard disk, which contains all the system files it needs to boot up.

  79. Thanks tons! I tried several other approaches that I found on the web. Yours was the first that worked.

  80. Hello there. Thanks for the tutorial, very easy to follow.
    I have a problem, though. My Virtualbox boot manager has only one entry (the one that has HD(1,GPT)).

    What went wrong?

  81. Tobi – no questions here, I just wanted to say thank you so much for this guide! Your instructions on generating a .iso that VirtualBox can boot from were invaluable, and I also would never have been able to figure out the „Boot Maintenance Manager“ portion of the install process. All the best!

  82. Thanks! works perfectly

  83. Hey, many thanks!

    Just did it on the latest versions of MacOs, VirtualBox and VB Extension!
    Great tutorial!

  84. Thank you for being so thorough with this tutorial. I was able to get the latest MacOs installed with no problems!

  85. Thank you so much for preparing this.
    Blessings
    Alex


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