How to Install macOS 10.15 Catalina on VirtualBox on Windows PC

Looking to install macOS Catalina in VirtualBox on Windows 10? 

Then you’ve come to the right place. This is the guide that we wish we had when we first spent countless hours figuring out how to get macOS Catalina onto Virtualbox on Windows. We’ve written this guide based on all 300+ valuable comments and feedback we’ve received on our previous two popular guides which you may also choose if you want to try out any of their previous versions of macOS with Virtualbox: 

The new macOS Catalina 10.15 is the latest version as of today (18 December 2019) compatible to run with Virtualbox and it is one of the many iterations of Catalina which brings about a whole host of changes and new features which will be fascinating to try out once you have it up and running.

 

What You Will Need

 


FAQ: Why Use Virtualbox? Which version of Virtualbox do I need to install? Here’s everything you need to know.

Since you can’t run a macOS (Mac operating system) without an actual Macintosh device made by Apple, you will need to use virtualization software.

There are two well-known and robust virtualization software that has worked like a charm over the years and that’s 1) VirtualBox and 2) VMware. Now we don’t encourage forcing you to choose one program over the other and both programs are equally good however for the purposes of this guide we will use VirtualBox (we are currently working on writing up the VMware version for this too, so make sure to subscribe above to be notified)


 

VirtualBox as aforementioned is a virtualization software and its divine purpose is to allow you to create virtual environments that can run multiple operating systems such as Linux, macOS or Windows side-by-side on top of an operating system like Windows (you’re using in this case on your PC). 

The next question we often get from our readers is “Which version of Virtualbox do I need to install in order to install macOS on Windows?”.

The answer: Any version of Virtualbox is possible although we really recommend that you try to install the latest version of Virtualbox in order to prevent persistent issues or bugs that may plague legacy versions.

Another question received was, “How do we allow macOS Catalina on Virtualbox to bypass the USB 3.0 issue?”.

Since the jump to USB 3.0 on macOS Catalina, there has been multiple issues that came with during setting up virtualization. Thankfully, using the Virtualbox Extension Pack provided below, you can fix the various issues and allow to connect your USBs to the Virtualbox and have it appear on macOS Catalina.

Here is the list of files you will be needing for this guide (don’t worry, we will let you know when to install them as you follow the steps below :)) :

  • Download the latest Virtualbox version.
  • Download macOS 10.15 Catalina ISO Image.
  • Download Virtualbox Extension Pack.
  • Download Virtualbox Boot Disk.

 

Anyways, without wasting any more precious time, let’s jump right into it.

 


TABLE OF CONTENTS
  1. Step 1: Download macOS Catalina File from the Mac App Store
  2. Step 2: Creating an ISO File from Our Downloaded macOS Catalina DMG File
  3. Step 3: Time to Install VirtualBox
  4. Step 4: Creating Our New Virtual Machine 
  5. Step 5: Tweaking Our Virtual Machine For Performance 💪
  6. Step 6: Adding Our macOS Catalina ISO File and Setting Up Our Boot Disk
  7. Step 7: Close VirtualBox and Add The Below Code on Virtualbox using Command Prompt
  8. Step 8: Putting Our Finishing Touches
  9. Step 9: Voila! Run macOS Catalina 🍻

 

 

How to Install macOS Catalina on VirtualBox on Windows PC: 9 Steps

 

Step 1: Download macOS Catalina File from the Mac App Store.

First things first, you will need to download the file that contains the macOS Catalina. The best way to obtain this file is to get it directly from the Mac App Store since it will contain all the latest patches and fixes which Apple frequently releases.

Now you may be saying “If I had a Mac, then I wouldn’t need to do all this.” and you’re right, however, Apple doesn’t publicly host their macOS Catalina files to download which is the problem. If you can ask your friends or family members if you can borrow their Mac to download the macOS Catalina file from the Mac App Store.

Thankfully, we were able to get the file and we have linked it below:

  • Download macOS Catalina Final (.dmg) – 7GB //Updated on 18 Dec 2019


Once you’ve downloaded the macOS Catalina Final (.dmg) file what you will need to do is extract the files into a single folder. This can be done using an extraction service like WinRar or 7zip.

 

Note

If you’re on an Intel user, then make sure that Intel VT-x is enabled. You can follow the guide here on how to do that. If you’re an AMD user, then you can simply ignore this. This is to make sure that virtualization is enabled on your device.

https://www.geekrar.com/enable-intel-vt-x-amd-v-bios-or-uefi-firmware/

 


 

Step 2: Creating an ISO File from Our Downloaded macOS Catalina DMG File

In order to use our downloaded macOS Catalina file with Virtualbox on Windows, we will first need it to be converted from DMB to ISO file type. Now there are two ways to go around this: 1) convert the file using Mac 2) using an online converter.

We will go over each of the three ways and you can decide which is most convenient for you to try:

 

  • Converting DMG to ISO Using A Mac

If you still have access to your friend’s or family member’s Mac which you used to download the macOS Catalina DMG file from then here’s what you do:

Step 1: Firstly, locate the downloaded macOS Catalina.app file and move it into the Application folder.

Step 2: To convert the DMG to ISO, we will need to use the Terminal (located in Applications > Utilities) in order to make that happen. 

Step 3: Great. Once you have Terminal open, you will need to create a virtual disk image first. To do this copy-paste the following command:

hdiutil create -o /tmp/Catalina -size 8500m -volname Catalina -layout SPUD -fs HFS+J

 

Step 4: Next, you will need to mount the image created in Step 3 to the macOS. To do this copy-paste the following command:

hdiutil attach /tmp/Catalina.dmg -noverify -mountpoint /Volumes/Catalina

 

Step 5: Now using the macOS Createinstallmedia Tool we will have to create an Installer Image. To do this copy-paste the following command which needs to be called using the sudo command:

sudo /Applications/Install/macOS/Catalina.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Catalina --nointeraction

 

Step 5: Then to unmount the Catalina disk: 

hdiutil detach /volumes/Install/macOS/Catalina

 

Step 6: Next, we will need to convert our Catalina.dmg file to  an .iso file type for Virtualbox.: 

hdiutil convert /tmp/Catalina.dmg -format UDTO -o ~/Desktop/Catalina.cdr

 

Step 7: Lastly, simply move and rename the Catalina image to the main desktop using the command below

mv ~/Desktop/Catalina.cdr ~/Desktop/Catalina.iso

 

From here on you can send the file to yourself to use it on your Windows device where Virtualbox is installed.

 

 

  • Convert DMG to ISO using an Online Converter.


There is a great selection of online converters out there that are capable of converting DMG files to ISO files. To name our two favorites: PowerISO or dmg2img.

You can download them and proceed to convert your downloaded macOS Catalina DMG file to ISO. We’ve written a step-by-step guide on how to use dmg2img to convert DMG files to ISO which you can use as a reference. 🙂

https://www.howtogeek.com/102983/how-to-convert-dmg-files-to-iso-files-on-windows/

For the purposes of this guide, we have went with using a Mac to directly convert the DMG to ISO since we managed to get the DMG file (above) using a Mac too.

 

 


 

Step 3: Time to Install VirtualBox.

Now that we have the macOS Catalian ISO file, we can proceed with the Virtualbox-side of things. 

If you haven’t already installed Virtualbox, then you can download and install Virtualbox by heading over to the link below:

  • Download Virtualbox Latest Version 6

 

Installing Virtualbox is just like any other program simply keep hitting Next > until it is done. 

You can also download the Virtualbox Extension Pack below:

  • Download Virtualbox Extension Pack

 


 

Step 4: Creating Our New Virtual Machine.

So you have set up Virtualbox completely  and your macOS Catalina ISO file ready from Step 2. Now what you need to do is to go into Virtualbox and create a new virtual machine in order to house our macOS Catalina ISO file.

 

To create a new virtual machine in Virtualbox, from the Home page in Virtualbox click on the New option (as shown below).

 

-New button in VB pic-

 

This will begin the process you will be asked for information such as what Name do you want to give this Virtual Machine, which Folder (Machine Folder) do you want it to be stored, what Type of operating system is being run, and what Version of operating system is run.  


Enter the following information:

 

Name: macOS Catalina 10.15

Type: Mac OS X

Version: macOS 10.13 High Sierra (64-bit)

 

-Virtualbox pic-

 

The Name can be anything but it is a good practice to name the virtual machine the version of operating system being run. For Type it is Mac OS X (of course). For Version, although we are running macOS 10.15 Catalina, the highest version we can choose from the list is 10.13 hence which is why we choose 10.13. Now don’t worry as this will not affect the process in anyway whatsoever. If anything it’s the next part you have to be wary of. 

 

At one point during the creation of the virtual machine, you’ll be asked to choose your Memory Size (RAM) to be allocated for the virtual machine. The rule of thumb here is to choose the number that is around 50% of your physical RAM available on your machine. How do you check how much physical RAM you have on Windows? Go into Search (bottom left), type in “RAM” and click on View RAM Info. As shown below, the machine we’re using has 8GB RAM. So we will go with 4GB. If yours is 4GB RAM go with 2GB and etc.

 

-Virtualbox RAM pic and View RAM Info pic-

 

We’re almost done creating our virtual machine. Next, you will be asked about the Hard Disk which you want to use for the newly created virtual machine. The options given to you are as follows but we will go with the Create a virtual hard disk now option. 

 


Lastly, this is another important part to be wary about. When choosing the File location and size, make sure to choose the macOS 10.15 Catalina.vmdk file’s location. You can change the File location by clicking on the file icon next to it and then select the path. We will use our Virtualbox VMs\macOS Catalia path because that is where our macOS 10.15 Catalina.vmdk is stored. Additionally, when choosing the hard disk size you can choose anywhere 100GB or lesser depending on the amount of storage you can allocate. Don’t go overboard on this and choose 2TB if you cannot support it. We will be going with 100 GB.

 

Finally hit Create and you’re done creating your virtual machine. 

 

 


 

Step 5: Tweaking Our Virtual Machine For Performance. 💪⚡(*)

For most issues our readers have had in the previous guides we’ve written, this is the section where they either made a mistake or the configurations they had set did not play well with their own machines. 

 

So take your time and make sure you go through this step with careful thought. Let’s begin.

 

We now have our new virtual machine born however it still lacks the readiness to run an operating system like macOS Catalina smoothly. Thus we need to make some changes. 


To start off, go into your virtual machine Settings 

 And then from the left-hand sidebar select System. 


Motherboard

 

Now under the Motherboard tab make sure the following options are selected for Boot Order and also make sure that Enable EFI (special OSes only) is selected too. For the Base Memory make sure the memory is the same memory (RAM) you had chosen in Step 3 during the virtual machine creation process.

 

The most important change to make in this page here is the Chipset where you will want it to be set to PIIX3 and not anything else. 

 

Processor

 

Next, in the Processor tab, is another crucial step where the amount of Processor(s) and Execution Cap settings will play a part in how fast or slow your macOS Catalina runs on Virtualbox. For the Processor(s) again the rule of thumb to follow is 50% of in this case your machine’s CPU (physical processor) so if it quad-core then choose 2, if it is 8 cores then 4. To find out how much cores your Windows PC has, simply go to Search (bottom left), type “Processor” and then select View Processor Info. From here locate your processor name and google how much processor it has (as shown below).

 

-image processor google intel-

 

Additionally, make sure next to Extended Features that you select Enable PAE/NX option. Not enabling this issue can cause performance related issues when booting up the macOS Catalina later. 

 

Display


From the left sidebar, select Display (right under System). Now under the Screen tab, you will need to make sure that the Video Memory of your virtual machine is set to 128MB and the Graphics Controller is set to VMSVGA. A few other guides we have found online did not mention that it is also important that you leave both options under Acceleration unchecked which can cause certain lags and delays during runtime.

 

The final part is the USB section. Since macOS Catalina supports USB 3.0 we will need to manually set this for the virtual machine in the Settings. So make sure that you check the option to Enable USB Controller and then select the option USB 3.0 (xHCI) Controller. 

 

Finally, and don’t forget, hit the OK button.

 


 

Step 6: Adding Our macOS Catalina ISO File and Setting Up Our Boot Disk. 

 

Now that we are done completely configuring our virtual machine for performance, it’s about time that we load our macOS Catalina ISO file into the virtual machine and set it up too. 

 

Let’s do that first. Go into your virtual memory’s Settings and then select Storage from the left sidebar. On the Storage page, click the round CD/DVD icon and then choose to open your macOS Catalina.iso file (as shown below).

 

-img-

 

Great. Now what you will need to do is download the VirtualBox Boot Disk which will help us with configuring the boot settings of the disk:

 

  • Download Virtualbox Boot Disk (Latest)


You can place the Virtualbox Boot Disk anywhere on your machine as long as you’re able to locate it later. 

 

Next, within the same Storage page, select your Controller: SATA under Storage Devices and you will see two icons will pop up right next to it. Click on the second icon which is the Add Virtual Disk button. You will be prompted with a question asking you whether you are sure you want to create a new, empty file to hold existing disk contents of create a new disk. In this case we will want to choose Choose existing disk. Remember the Virtualbox Boot Disk we had downloaded? You need to select that and hit OK.

 

-pic-

 

Lastly, hit OK to confirm the changes.

 

-pic-

 

 


 

Step 7: Close VirtualBox and Add The Below Code on Virtualbox using Command Prompt.

Before you do anything, it’s crucial that you close Virtualbox before going any further. Don’t worry all the changes you’ve made in the previous steps are intact and will not be removed. 

What you’re going to now is pretty simple, just download the code that is provided below: 

 

  • Download Virtualbox Code (Updated December 2019)

 

We have also added the same code here below too just in case if you don’t want to download the code from above or for convenience. Both codes are the same and are updated.

 

Here is the code:

 

cd “C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\”

VBoxManage.exe modifyvm “Your VM Name” –cpuidset 00000001 000106e5 00100800 0098e3fd bfebfbff

VBoxManage setextradata “Your VM Name” “VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiSystemProduct” “iMac11,3”

VBoxManage setextradata “Your VM Name” “VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiSystemVersion” “1.0”

 

VBoxManage setextradata “Your VM Name” “VBoxInternal/Devices/efi/0/Config/DmiBoardProduct” “Iloveapple”

VBoxManage setextradata “Your VM Name” “VBoxInternal/Devices/smc/0/Config/DeviceKey” “ourhardworkbythesewordsguardedpleasedontsteal(c)AppleComputerInc”

VBoxManage setextradata “Your VM Name” “VBoxInternal/Devices/smc/0/Config/GetKeyFromRealSMC” 1

So what the heck do you do with the code above? Well, you need to first make sure that you copy-paste the code into an application like Notepad. Then, this is important, replace all the “Your VM Name” parts of the code with the name that you gave your virtual machine in Step 2. If you don’t remember it, open Virtualbox once again, then in your virtual machine Settings select General from the left sidebar and locate the Name. Since we called the virtual machine as “macOS Catalina 10.15” then we use that (as shown below). 

 

-Notepad pic-

 

Once we have done the replacing, it’s time we run the code. Again, make sure to close down Virtualbox completely before doing the next step. Firstly, you will need to go to your Windows Search (bottom left) and then type in CMD. You will find hat Command Prompt will appear in the search results, right-click on Command Prompt and then click on Run as administrator. Not selecting Run as administrator will bring issues when running the code above. 

Once Command Prompt opens, copy-paste the code one-by-one into the Command Prompt. Which means you enter the the first part of code cd “C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\” then hit Enter. Repeat until you copy-paste all the code.

 

Lastly, once you’re done, you may proceed to the next step. Don’t close Command Prompt for now just yet.

 

You’re getting closer, young padawan.

 


 

Step 8: Putting Our Finishing Touches.

Go ahead open Virtualbox once again and then make sure to select your macOS Catalina virtual machine and then hit the Start button from the left sidebar. 

If everything goes fly you should that the virtual machine will start running (as shown below).

-pic-

 

Awesome this is a good sign. You will be presented with the macOS Utilities and from the list of options available, choose the Disk Utility option and hit Continue.

 

-pic-

 

On the Disk Utility page, under the Internal heading (left sidebar) select the VBOX Virtual Disk (VBOX HARDDISK Media). You will be prompted with a message saying Erase “VBOX HARDDISK Media”?. What you want to do is for Format, instead of choosing Mac OS Extended (Journaled) you will want to select Mac OS Extended (HFS) from the dropdown box. Once you’ve selected it, hit Erase. 

 

Now as you proceed with installing macOS Catalina, you will find that it will reboot in the process. 

 

Once it reboots up completely, you will need to go back into Virtualbox and turn off the virtual machine. Then, select your virtual machine’s Settings and choose Storage. From under the Storage page, remove the macOS Catalina ISO file which we had added back in Step 6 by selecting it and then hitting the little x icon below it (as shown below). Then hit OK.

 

Go back to the Virtualbox main screen and turn your macOS Catalina virtual machine back on again and as it turns on press and hold down on your Escape key to enter the UEFI Shell mode. It looks a little creepy however all you have to do here is just enter install.nsh and hit the Enter key (as shown below).

 

You will now find that the macOS Catalina installation will be complete and will show the following page which asks you to Restart. Simply close your VirtualBox.

 

 


 

Step 9: Voila! Run macOS Catalina 🍻.

You can now run your new macOS Catalina by opening Virtualbox again and then running your virtual machine. Assuming you’ve followed all the steps above correctly, you will find the below screen. It’s similar to an actual Mac, where you will need to go through the whole setup process to get it up and running. You only need to set it up once exactly like a regular Mac.

 

Once it’s set and done, you’ll be presented with the gorgeous macOS Catalina home screen.


Celebrate, grab a glass of fine wine because this was no easy task but you manage to do it. :claps:

 

If you have any questions or issues please comment down below, either one of us will answer your questions or one of helpful readers will do too. You can always CTRL+F on Google Chrome and type in the keywords for your issue down below to find if the issue has been already solved.

 

Author

  • Jake Kovoor

    Jake is the Editor-in-Chief of Saint and an independent software developer, with a Bachelors in Computer Science from Lancaster University, UK. He loves trying out various tech from the Flipper Zero to coding Raspberry Pis for automation. He started Saint back in 2016, having written over 100 posts, with the sole purpose of creating guides for software that had yet to exist back then to help users navigate around their technical problems.

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