How To Run Mac OS X On Any Windows PC Using VirtualBox

Even if you're a happy Windows user, you may have thought about trying Mac OS X. Maybe you'd like to test drive OS X before switching to a Mac or building a Hackintosh, or maybe you just want to run that one killer Mac app on your Windows machine. Whatever your reason, you can actually install and run OS X inside your existing Windows setup with a program called VirtualBox. Here's how.

Running OS X on your Windows desktop will take a bit of work, but it's relatively easy to do and the final product is awesome. To see what the whole setup will look like when you're done, check out the video above. Then, head to the instructions below to set it up for yourself.

What You'll Need

Before you start the installation process, you'll want to gather the following:

  • A PC running 64-bit Windows with at least a dual-core processor and 4GB of RAM. Mountain Lion is 64-bit, and thus requires your copy of Windows to be 64-bit. If you're on a 32-bit version of Windows, you can install Snow Leopard instead. For more info, check out the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.
  • VirtualBox and the VirtualBox Extension Pack: VirtualBox is our favourite virtualisation tool for Windows, and it's completely free. VirtualBox doesn't officially support OS X, but it's actually very easy to get up and running. You should download the main program and the Extension Pack, which will give you support for USB devices.
  • A hacked Mountain Lion disc image. Sadly, this won't work with a vanilla Mountain Lion installer, so you'll have to find a compatible hacked version. The hacking group Olarila has put a great installation ISO together, and you can find it by searching Google. If that doesn't sit well with you, you can head over to the Mac App Store and buy a legit copy for yourself, so you can at least pirate with a clear conscience.
  • The HackBoot 1 and HackBoot 2 ISO files. These will help you boot into the installation.
  • MultiBeast 4, which will help you get audio and other things working correctly after installation. You'll need to register for a free account over at Tonymacx86.com to download this. Make sure to download MultiBeast 4 — it's labelled "Lion", but for our purposes the Lion version works better than the Mountain Lion version.

Step 1: Install and Set Up VirtualBox

Before we install OS X, we'll need to set up VirtualBox so the OS X install disc can boot correctly. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Start up VirtualBox and click the New button. Give your new virtual machine a name (I just called it "Mac OS X") and set the operating system to "Mac OS X Server (64-bit)".
  2. Click Next and choose how much RAM to give your virtual machine. This depends on how much RAM is in your system — you can get away with 2GB, but if you have more, give it more. 4GB of RAM should be a good amount, though I gave mine 6GB since I had RAM to spare.
  3. Click Next again and choose "Create New Disk". Create your new disk in VDI format and with dynamically allocated storage. When you're done, VirtualBox should take you back to the main screen.
  4. From here, right-click on your OS X machine in the left sidebar and click Settings. Go to the "System" section and uncheck "Enable EFI".
  5. Click on the Storage section of the settings and click on the CD icon that says "Empty" under Storage Type. Then, click the CD icon next to the "CD/DVD Drive" dropdown, and select "Choose a Virtual CD/DVD Disk File". Choose the HackBoot 1 ISO and click OK.

Now your machine is ready to boot for the first time. Make sure you have your Mountain Lion ISO ready to go and proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Install OS X in VirtualBox

The next step involves actually installing OS X to your new virtual machine. When you're ready, start up VirtualBox and follow these instructions:

  1. Select your OS X machine in VirtualBox's left sidebar and click the Start button in the toolbar. It will bring you to the HackBoot boot screen, with one icon in the middle labelled HackBoot.
  2. Click on the CD icon at the bottom of the VirtualBox window and select "Choose a Virtual CD/DVD Disk File". This time, choose your hacked Mountain Lion ISO.
  3. Go back to the HackBoot boot screen and press F5. It should reload the boot menu, this time showing you an "OS X Install DVD". Select this option and press Enter. After a moment, it'll take you to the OS X Installation screen.
  4. After you choose your language and agree to the terms and conditions, you'll see that OS X doesn't detect any valid hard drives. To fix this problem, head up to the menu bar and go to Utilities > Disk Utility.
  5. Click on your VirtualBox hard drive in the left sidebar, then click the Erase tab in Disk Utility's main pane. Give your drive a name (like "Macintosh HD") and click "Erase".
  6. Once Disk Utility has finished formatting your drive, you should see it show up in the left sidebar. When you do, exit Disk Utility and continue with the OS X installation as normal.

The rest of the installation should be largely self-explanatory and should go off without a hitch. It took me about 20 minutes to install OS X. When it finishes, it will take you to a black screen with white text. At this point, you can click the "X" in the upper-right corner of the window to power off the virtual machine.

Step 3: Smooth Out the Rough Edges

You're almost there! You've installed OS X, but you'll still need to tweak a few things to get audio and graphics working properly. Here's what you need to do.

Fix Audio with MultiBeast

  1. Open up VirtualBox and right-click on your OS X virtual machine in the left sidebar. Head back to its Settings and go to the Storage section. Once again, click on the disc icon on the right side of the window, this time choosing the HackBoot 2 ISO.
  2. Click the Start button to reboot your virtual machine. You should see the HackBoot menu again, this time with an option to boot into your new virtual machine. Select that option and press Enter.
  3. After a minute, you should see the Mountain Lion desktop with the familiar galaxy wallpaper. Open up Safari, head to Tonymacx86.com, and download MultiBeast as described in the "What You'll Need" section.
  4. Open up System Preferences > Security. Click the lock in the bottom left-hand corner, enter your password, and set the "Allow Applications" preference to "Anywhere". This will let you run apps from untrusted developers, which includes Multibeast.
  5. Launch Multibeast. When you get to the Installation Type section, Choose the options pictured below. Click continue and finish the Multibeast installation. It may take a few minutes.

Your audio won't work just yet, but we have a few other things we need to do before we restart.

Boot OS X Without HackBoot

In order to boot OS X without the HackBoot CD, we'll need to delete a problematic kext. You can do this with the following steps:

  1. Open up the Finder and select Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar. Type in /System/Library/Extensions and press Enter.
  2. In this folder, find the AppleGraphicsControl.kext file and delete it. This will allow your virtual machine to boot up without the HackBoot ISO.
  3. Click on the disc icon at the bottom of VirtualBox's window and uncheck the HackBoot 2 ISO, since you won't need it anymore.

Get Higher-Resolution Virtual Machine

Lastly, you may have noticed your VM is running at a pretty low resolution. That's totally lame, so we're going to make it run at the same resolution as our monitor with a few tweaks:

  1. Head back to Go > Go to Folder and go to /Extra/. Double-click on the org.Chameleon.boot.plist file and add the following to the bottom of the file, above the line:
    Graphics Mode
    1920x1080x32

    Save the file and close TextEdit. This allows OS X to start up with a higher resolution. Note that you can set whatever resolution you want; just replace 1920x1080 with the resolution you want.

  2. If the resolution you picked is bigger than 1280x1024 and/or is widescreen, you'll need to do one last thing to get it working properly. Shut down your virtual machine and open Windows' Command Prompt. Type the following commands, hitting enter after each one:
    cd "C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox"
    vboxmanage setextradata "MyVirtualMachine" "CustomVideoMode1" "1920x1080x32"

    Replace the first line with the path to your VirtualBox program folder. In the second line, replace MyVirtualMachine with the name of your machine (in our case, "Mac OS X"), and 1920x1080x32 with the same resolution you added to your Chameleon plist.

When you're done, restart your OS X virtual machine and you should be greeted with a full-res desktop and working audio. You can now continue to install your favourite apps, set up your keyboard and mouse, and do anything else you like. You've got a fully working virtual Mac on your Windows desktop!


Comments

    Can't wait to try out

    Probably only works when you got an Intel CPU, not AMD....

      Yeah, from what I tried a couple of weeks ago this is still the case, I personally couldn't find any workarounds but I didn't try all that hard to find one.

    "If that doesn’t sit well with you, you can head over to the Mac App Store and buy a legit copy for yourself" - by running it on VirtualBox on a Windows machine, you're already breaking the license agreement, so you may as well just have a pirate copy as both infringe copyright.

      There is a difference between legality and morality.

        Sorry Sam, Breaking the licence agreement is nothing like breaking copyright.

        I have no problems paying for something then ethically using it outside how the manufacturer allows but I won't steal.

        In my mind the manufacturer has no right telling me how I can/can't use their product (as long as no person is hurt by my actions) however they have every right to recoup money for the goods.

          Besides, it aint that expensive...

      Violating license agreement != copyright infringement.

        yeah, but who agreed that Apple has the right to tell me how and where i run their software?

          *facepalm*

          YOU did when you agreed to the EULA

            The EULA isn't legally enforceable, you don't "agree" to anything, you're just forced to click a button or tick a box to get your own property to work. Legally and morally, that's all it is.

              The EULA actually says that Mac OS X (when legally purchased) can be run in up to 5 virtual environments. Please read it before you make random claims.

                How is that a "random claim"? Your reply does not contradict anything I said, it doesn't even respond to it.
                It's actually a better response to the person at the top of the comment thread who said: "Violating license agreement != copyright infringement."

              (Edit: Apologies, I just saw the dates on this thread. For fucks sake LH, stop digging up old articles)

              EULAs are legally enforceable if you're required to assent, eg. by clicking 'Accept'. Precedence exists in the US (ProCD v Zeidenberg) and while I'm not sure if it exists here, the same legal principles apply - the EULA is treated as a contract, clicking 'Accept' is explicit consent to abide by the contract, and it's treated as a contract in court if you violate its terms.

              Last edited 18/10/13 7:54 am

                It's a zombie article :)
                From what I've found out It depends on the case and the country. In Germany for example it's not enforceable, and if the ELUA includes unreasonable terms, then those aren't enforceable either.

      In a way its stupid they don't allow it more easily, i cant imagine the vast majority of people would happily spend the price difference on a Mac without knowing if they will be able to adapt to the OS (i for one hate Mac OS its full of stupidity for the way i work, every time i have to support someone on a mac i cringe).

      Being able to run OSX on a virtual machine would be a good step in letting people get experience in using OSX before taking the plunge for a full fledged mac. Apple could easily write their own VM (or make a deal with an exisiting one) for a custom build that would run OSX that put some restrictions in to GENTLY encourage a Mac down the track.

      But Apple being the close minded bunch they are wouldn't want to do that. Its what nearly killed them years ago and its what's hampering takeup again.

        You can only develope ipad/iphone apps in OSX as well, so this is a good workaround for devs who want to create apps, but like Windows better.

          Which is what im planning to do once the patch for VMWare player 9 is out (i prefer vmware player to vbox, as last time i used vbox it screwed up my USB and i couldn't connect any android phones to my system).

            I use OSX on VMware for developing iOS apps. Snapshots are a godsend when updating OSX, XCODE, iTunes and test devices. Once I said yes to the auto update popup on my iPhone, then iTunes and Xcode couldn't connect to it. When I tried to update Xcode it needed the later version of OSX, after the OSX update rest of the tool chain (Accelerator, etc) stopped working. Same goes for signing certificates, so many on the forums end up doing fresh installs just to get pass wired compile errors.

            IMHO VMware has better hardware acceleration than Virtualbox but that was a while ago. What we need a chef cookbook to setup the full stack.

    Why in the hell would you want to run OSX on a Windows box?

    No, I'm serious. Serious question here. Why buy a Windows box and then restrict yourself by installing Mac OSX on it? I can't think of any conceivable reason why you would do this unless you are developer.

      Believe it or not, there actually is some software that is OSX exclusive.
      Also, as you said, if you're a software or web developer, then being able use OSX without having to main it has definite advantages.

        Nothing for which there are not better Windows alternatives. FCP used to be the exception but Apple have well and truly screwed that pooch.

          You forgot about XCode!

        Indeed. And everything looks nicer on OSX.

      Garage Band?

        Fruityloops, Orion, EnergyXT, Reaper, Reason, Sonar, Cubase, Podium and dozens of other applications, many free or less than $50, that are far more useful than GarageBand can be had for any PC. Some are also cross-platform, but none of the really good ones. GarageBand is a toy.

      I have a legitimate reason. I need to remotely support a variety of medical staff who run a combination of Windows and Apple laptops. Having the ability to mirror their config (while using a single laptop)is of great benefit in troubleshooting.

      The point is it's run as a Virtual Machine within your Windows box. So you get the option to use OSX for testing/development etc, without needing to pay the Apple hardware tax.

      One reason to VirtualBox OS X on Windows is when learning to use X-Code and develop iPhone Apps. X-Code is OS X exclusive and my machine is currently out of commission until I repair it. Thus, I will use my copy of OS X from my MBP on my Windows 7 machine to run X-Code.

      I need it to develop my own app, and tansfer it to my own iphone (jailbroken), from my own computer. apple = fuck logic.

    I can't take this article seriously with Taylor Swift in the last screenshot.....

    Why on Earth would anyone want to run that POS on a proper computer? OS X has the worst window management of any OS in history and for every other good feature it has, it also has half-a-dozen that are terrible. I was ready to toss my MacPro out of the second floor window at work last night, it was taking such a ridiculously long time to do the simplest things. e.g. Just starting it from cold, it is more than 3 minutes before I can get Outlook open and check my email. And this is an 8-core, dual Xeon MacPro with specs that absolutely shame my Ultrabook. Yet my humble Core i7 Zenbook, running Win8, is ready to go in 10 seconds and runs things like Photoshop and After Effects at least as well, often better, than the stupid MacPro.

      I'm starting to get the feeling you don't like OSX.

      (as a sidenote: I'm pretty certain that 3-minute boot time means something isn't quite right. I just tested the 4-year old core2duo macbook on my desk, and it takes 1.5 minutes from power to outlook on lion)

        My old Core2 Duo Windows XP PC booted in about 30 seconds and if I opened email after that it was maybe an extra 5 seconds, so 1.5 minutes is still about 3 times too long as far as I'm concerned.

          I call bullshit on these times.

            You can call it that all you like but it won't change facts. I had that thing pretty well optimised.

            Like right now, my current Windows 7 PC boots in less than 20 seconds, with most of that time spent in the initial BIOS faff that I can't disable or work around (once Windows actually starts booting it's about 5ish seconds. The Windows logo on the loading screen doesn't even finish the animation before it's ready to log in).

              Pretty sure the Zenbook has an SSD whereas a mac pro is using desktop hard disks. That's why your computers have different boot times, one is 2-4 times faster at reading the files off the hard disk. Put an SSD in that Mac Pro and watch it crush anything you own at booting.

              Last edited 21/04/13 7:46 am

        Hang around a bit longer... You'll notice that at any given opportunity, he'll fap about Windows/Microsoft in general, and try to ram it down your throat.

      Windows 8 computers have the fastest start up times. They even had to change how you access BIOS. Some windows 7 computers are plain slow compared to Macs. Plus i would get a mac just to develop apps for apple devices.

    Now all we need is to be able to virturilise OSX from within boot camp.
    I can access windows with ease on vmware, but I can't do the same vice versa and more then I would expect it becomes a problem for me when I am booted into windows

    This is great for people who develop iOS apps, but don't have access to a Mac.

      That's the only situation I can possibly see this being useful.

      Mind you, you shouldn't need to use a Mac to develop iOS apps but that's another can of worms for another day.

        So you think you should be able to easily develop Windows apps on a Mac? Even if you can, why would you?

          That would make sense if you were using a Mac to develop Mac apps. But we're talking about developing iOS apps, not Mac apps. All you should need is an iOS device and developer kit. You shouldn't need a Mac to make a iOS app, you should be able to use whatever the hell you want. You know, like every other platform known to man.

          You can actually download the Android SDK for Macs. Wouldn't it be a smarter decision to let other OS's develop for your phone OS. But then you have the issue of Apple branding, and not getting that juicy 80% profit from people buying their, hardwa..wait... logo.

          So why wouldn't you develop for Android on a Mac? Unless you're one of the Wonkas who thinks it's wrong to develop for a competing OS because you're 'Apple' orientated.

    Steve Jobs must be rolling in his grave...

      Steve jobs wouldn't care...

    So do you need a seperate hard drive for this?, i really dont want it to mess with(format) any of my windows stuff or just general files.

      If you need to ask this question, this may not be the best thing for you to attempt.

    Legit question:
    The Olarila site in mostly Portuguese. Where do I find the relevant ISO?

    Just wondering if you are able to use iPhoto/ iMovie on virtual box?

    Gawker Media: promoting Apple products and services at every turn.

      How is this promoting Apple? It's like saying the Pirate Bay is promoting HBO.

    It would be nice to just have the VDI image to use without having to go through all the crap.

      This. I expect there are some serious copyright implications, but still. Half of the benefit to a virtualised hackintosh is that it's pretty much exactly the same "hardware" (at least as far as the OS sees) on any machine with the same Virtualisation software. With this in mind, it seems silly that one should have to go through all of the standard hackintosh rubbish - a pre-installed VDI or a VM-specific distro that does everything during the install would make the most sense.

      I gave up on Hackintoshing a long time ago. :P I just use a Macbook for Mac stuff and a custom desktop PC for Windows stuff (ie. gaming) While I would like to be able to use my desktop's better hardware and screen if there was an easy way to get OSX running, it's not worth it for something would be "nice". In my situation, at least.

    Can imovie be run???

    I am stuck on Step 3 where I am trying to booting from Hackboot2. The error I am getting is :

    Loading kernel /mach_kernel

    Can't find /mach_kernel

    Anyone know what is happening here?

    Thanks

      it cant find the mach kernel

        I am having the same problem, can anyone help please?

        Spat my coffee all over my keyboard. Solid advice!

    Yes Thanks, But how do I get around the problem

      Did you found a solution for this. I'm having the exact same problem when trying to boot with the Hackboot2 iso.

    Why anyone would want to do this, I have no idea.

    My cmd isn't recognising "vboxmanage" as a valid command, any help?

      I installed my virtual box to my "E" drive and changed the previous command to it's location ( cd E:[It's directory]\oracle\virtualbox) if it changes anything

      to use xcode without buying a mac

    I have tried this method with no luck.

    When I load the Mountain Lion .iso file in to Hackboot1 and try and run it, I get a kernal panic. Specifically the error is:
    "Unable to find driver for this platform: \"ACPI\".\n"@/SourceCache/xnu/xnu-2050.7.9/iokit/Kernal/IOPlatformExpert.cpp:1546

    Any ideas?

      Did you ever figure out how to get past it? I'm having the exact same issue right now.

      I had the same problem. I went to settings > system and unchecked "Enable EFI (special OSes only)". Then, it worked fine.

    Thanks Heaps lifehacker, my computer is now running mountain-lion pretty much seamlessly, and in the process of adjusting the screen size, I even found that I had a cmd blocking virus, which I probably wouldn't have noticed. Unfortunately, like others who used this method I am still unable to change the resolution, but apart from that THANKS!!!

    I have got everything to work - except at the GET HIGHER RESOLUTION .
    I cannot find the /EXTRA/ directory or the file org.Chameleon.boot.plist .

    Could someone please help me why I cannot find that directory or file to increase my screen resolution?
    Many thanks

    hey I have no mouse input and cant fihure it out can anyone help! :(

    Hi
    Hello from the United States!

    Great instructions! (And You Tube demo of Mountain Lion as well----anyone reading this should check out Lifehacker's other You Tube shows like 10 simple hacks for life---great ideas! I'm doing them!--Thanks Whitson)

    1. Everything seems to be ok. I downloaded everything but....the search for "The hacking group Olarila has put a great installation ISO together, and you can find it by searching Google" did not produce the desired result. I got many discussions on the Olarila site, and many offsite as well. But no active link for downloading an .iso file for Mountain Lion.

    Not giving up I tried other pages for VM or regular installation of the Mountain Lion (via hacking) looking for an .iso file. Many claimed to have it, but turned up as dead links, or files that were not readable by a PC with Windows 7. (Many of the people trying to get ML in their computers seem to be Apple owners trying to upgrade without paying the price. Their versions of the hack only run on Apple with an already loaded OS (I might use one of my VirtualBox Snow Leopards and experiment with upgrading, but I think your clean installation on VirtualBox seems much better and easier and I"m so close to getting it done. I'm using this to try and learn Mountain Lion before I think of upgrading as I have older Mac and juggle already two laptops at work so want really to have it all in one with Oracle Virtual Box!

    For anyone else who is interested: I got a site with an "untouched" Mountain Lion .iso :

    http://kat.ph/mac-os-x-10-8-mountain-lion-iso-untouched-t6613628.html

    But when I downloaded it using Torch Browser (new to me) and Torrent I got a file that was .iso.Part ! So I could not open such a file, I need the plain old .iso file, so I used a program called ImgBurn to make that downloaded file into a pure .iso file!

    But sadly, for whatever reason in step 2, Item #3 it never shows the loaded Mountain Lion .iso file I made from ImgBurn from the downloaded .iso.part file.

    Do you know of any straight clean site that currently offers Mountain Lion.iso ? (without requiring you sign up for other paid uncancellable services or download their latest annoying toolbar, etc etc, you know what I mean).

    I have already installed Snow Leopard on the PC using Oracle Virtual Box, so I know what it is and how it works and that everything should have worked and I should see the Mountain Lion installation program on the cd in center.

    (The site that helped me install the Snow Leopard made one recommendation different than you, so I pass it along, they said to make two CD/DVD virtual drives, (Primary Master and Primary Slave) that way you can have other .iso programs installing or changing cd's without pausing the workflow. Its been a great help there, and easy to create from the storage tab in settings.

    2. By the way, you suggest 2 GB memory in step 1, Item# 2. I have only 4GB on my laptop and when I exceeded 1888 VirtualBox said I was using over 50% of my memory (as some is always unavailable for use by either laptop or VM), so I went with 1.8 GB. If that is too small, I'll set it for at least 2 GB but was wondering if that in any way was the reason why F5 was not loading in the Mountain Lion hacked iso program?

    I hope I didn't write too much but I really tried before contacting you.
    Hi

    I am getting the following error when start the virtual machine after selecting HackBoot 1 ISO.
    Error:

    Failed to open the session for Virtual machine
    One of the DMI String are too long. Check all bios/Dmi* configuration entries

    Please help me out

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