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Running / Installing Mac OS X (Snow Leopard) on VirtualBox

Posted in Apple, Mac OS X, VirtualBox, virtualization by commorancy on June 21, 2010

Updated 8/2/2011

Lion Update

With the recent release of Lion, there is a push to get a Lion version working on VirtualBox.  At present, there is yet no boot loader capable of booting Lion on VirtualBox. So, for now, Snow Leopard is still it for a standalone MacOS on VirtualBox.  I will update this article as necessary to address a working installation of Lion as it progresses.  Stay Tuned.

Nawcom Mod CD

There is a new CD image from Nawcom (http://blog.nawcom.com/?p=306) that makes installation of MacOS X much easier on VirtualBox (instead of using Prasys’ EFI boot CDs).  And yes, I’ve tried it.  The Nawcom EFI CD is much faster for installation because it does some very clever things, including installing the boot loader at the end of the install.

So, I am now recommending you to download and use the Nawcom ModCD instead of the Prasys EFI boot CDs listed below.  Although, I will leave the information for the Prasys Empire EFI CDs available should the Nawcom CD not work for you.  Alternatively, you can try the tonymacx86.com iBoot or iBoot Legacy CDs if all else fails.  Even using the Nawcom ModCD, you will still need to follow the instructions on changing the resolution of the screen as documented below as this CD doesn’t change that part of the installation process.


Let’s start by saying this. Support Apple by legally buying your copy of Mac OS X.  Don’t pirate it.

Note also that buying a retail packaged disk from the Apple store prevents a lot of headaches during this process.  A Mac OS X Install Disk that comes bundled with any Mac system will only install on the hardware with which it came bundled.  For example, if you try to install from a bundled DVD media that was shipped along with a MacBook Pro, it will not install on Virtualbox and you will see the error ‘Mac OS X cannot be installed on this computer’.  Save yourself the headache and get a retail disk from the Apple store.

Before getting started, if you are wanting to run Mac OS X on VMWare Player 3 instead, then check out Randosity’s Running Mac OS X on VMWare Player 3 article for details.

Apple’s Stance

Apple wants you to buy and run Mac OS X (desktop edition) on a MacBook Pro or other similar Mac hardware. While I think that’s a grand notion to sell the hardware, the hardware will sell regardless of the operating system. Further, if you are a hardware company, why sell the operating system separately anyway? I mean, if it’s the hardware that matters, how is it that you can buy Mac OS X separately both desktop and server editions. I digress.

Because Apple wants you to buy into their hardware platforms, they would prefer you not run Mac OS X on Virtual Environments. I personally think, however, that this idea is both socially and ecologically irresponsible. For a company that tries to tout itself as Green and Earth-Friendly, by not allowing virtualization of Mac OS X (any desktop version), this prevents people from using the hardware they already have and instead forces us to buy new hardware that will eventually fill landfills. Using existing hardware that may work just fine, although not made by Apple, at least keeps the hardware out of the land fill and they are still making money off selling the operating system.

Supported vs Non-Supported CPUs

Note, these boot CDs support specific types of CPUs.  If your CPU is not listed (i.e., Atom processor), you will need to download and use the CDs labeled with the word ‘Legacy’.   These CDs may or may not work for your CPU, but these are the only CDs that have a chance of working on non-supported CPU types.

Let’s get started — items required

  • A recent PC hardware config (within the last 3 years) installed with 64 bit Windows 7 or Vista or Linux 64 bit
    • Note, the faster the PC is, the better that VirtualBox will work.
  • A recent processor (Intel core i3, i5, i7, i3m, i5m, i7m, AMD Phenom or similar 64 bit processor)
  • Enabled VT-x (for Intel Processors) or AMD-v (for AMD processors) in the PC BIOS
  • Retail version of Mac OS X Snow Leopard.  (If you try any other version other than the retail package, it probably won’t work!)

As stated above, you will need hardware capable of VT-x / AMD-v (BIOS level virtualization support passthrough). Without this hardware configuration, you will not be able to install Mac OS X. Most recent dual and quad core processors support this technology. Although, you may have to enter the BIOS to enable it. So, check your BIOS for ‘Virtualization’ settings and enable it.

Pick your host operating system. You can run Windows 7, Vista, XP, Linux (Ubuntu, Redhat, etc) or Solaris. Whichever operating system you choose for the host, make sure it’s a 64 bit edition. I recommend Windows 7 64 bit edition as XP 64 bit edition can be somewhat of a bear to work with and Vista isn’t readily available at this point. If you’re looking for the least expensive solution, then I would choose Linux. I personally use Windows because I also need Windows 7 for other tasks as well. If you are currently running a 32 bit OS edition, you will first need to upgrade the host to 64 bit to operate Snow Leopard. Snow Leopard is mostly 64 bit now and, thus, requires a 64 bit host OS to function.

Note that this tutorial was tested using Mac OS X 10.6.3 (Snow Leopard). OS X may install using 10.6.4 or later, but Apple may also make changes that could prevent it from working. If you have an older install disk than 10.6.3, the installation may fail. I recommend using 10.6.3 or later.

What is EFI?

One other thing to note about Macintosh computers and Snow Leopard… Macintosh computers require an EFI BIOS to boot. What is EFI? EFI stands for Extensible Firmware Interface and was developed by Intel for the Itanium platform in the mid-90s. This ‘BIOS’ replacement is designed to allow direct 32 and 64 bit addressing right from the firmware unlike the PC BIOS which only allows 16 bit addressing during boot operations.

Apple integrated EFI into the PowerPC and later the Intel Macintosh line to boot Mac OS X. Because this boot system is not compatible with PC BIOS, it requires the standard PC BIOS to boot an EFI boot system first. Then, the EFI boot system can then boot Mac OS X. So, the boot system goes like this:

  • PC BIOS boots EFI
  • EFI boots Mac OS X

Yes, VirtualBox has an EFI boot system within, but this EFI system will not boot Mac OS X (probably on purpose). Instead, the Empire EFI boot ISO is necessary to boot Mac OS X (both the Mac OS X install media and the actual operating system once installed).

Focus on Windows

With this post, I will focus on using Windows as the Host and Mac OS X as the guest. You can utilize this guide if you want to use Linux, but you will need to determine how to get certain steps done with Linux (i.e., creating and/or mounting ISO images). So, let’s get going.

Items you’ll need

Steps to get it working

  • Install VirtualBox on Windows
  • Open VirtualBox and click ‘New’. This will start a Machine build Wizard
  • Name this machine ‘Mac OS X’
  • Set the Type to Mac OS X + Mac OS X Server (if it isn’t already) and click Next
  • Set memory to 1024 (or whatever you want to give it) and click Next
  • Under Boot Hard disk, either create a new HD or select an existing HD file* (at least 20GB), click Next
  • If Creating new, continue onward. Otherwise, skip down to ‘Readying VM for First Use’
  • In the New HD Panel, choose Dynamic Expanding Storage, Click Next
  • Click the Folder icon to choose where this disk is to be stored (C not recommended)
  • Set the size to 20GB (type in 20GB), click Next
  • Click Finish to exit HD creation and click Finish again to exit VM creation

Readying VM for First Use

Now you have a new VM for Mac OS X set up, it’s not to use ready yet. So, Let’s ready it for use:

  • Click to select the Mac OS X machine
  • Click the ‘Settings’ button
  • Click the System settings icon
  • Uncheck ‘Enable EFI’ (we will use EFI, just not VBox’s built-in version**)
  • Under Processor tab, leave it at 1 CPU and enable PAE/NX if it isn’t already
  • Under Acceleration, Enable VT-x/AMD-v (must be enabled). Without this setting, you can’t run Mac OS X in VBox.***
  • Under Display, set the Video Memory to 128 and Enable 3D Acceleration
  • Under Storage, IDE controller type must be ICH6
  • Also under Storage, click ‘Empty’ cdrom drive and set the Empire EFI disk to this drive using the Folder icon****.
  • Audio Driver is Windows Directsound + ICH AC97
  • Network should be Bridged Adapter (NAT may work)
  • Click ‘OK’ to save these settings

Now you’re ready to start the install process. Click the ‘Start’ button to start the Mac OS X virtual machine. Once the Empire EFI screen has loaded, eject the Empire EFI ISO image by unchecking it from the Devices->CD/DVD Devices Menu and then locate your Mac OS X Install ISO and select this. If you have the original media and want to create an ISO, go to the ‘Creating an ISO image with ImgBurn’ section below. After the Mac OS X install ISO is selected and you’re back at EFI, press the F5 key. The screen should refresh to show the newly inserted Mac OS X install media. Once it shows the install media, press the enter key to begin installation.

Note, if you start this process using the Empire ISO image, then you must use a Mac OS X Install ISO. If you want to use the physical media, then you’ll need to burn the Empire ISO to a CD and boot from the physical media drive in VirtualBox. You can then eject that media and insert the Mac OS X install media. You cannot mix and match ISO to physical media. I was not able to get mixing ISO and physical media to work in Empire EFI.

Installation of Mac OS X

Once you get the Mac OS X Installer going, I’ll leave it up to you to finish the full install process. However, I will say this about the hard drive. The VBox HD is blank. So, you will need to prepare it with ‘Disk Utility’. Once the Mac OS X installer starts and you get to the first screen with a menu bar, choose Utilities-> Disk Utility. It will recognize the Disk is there, but it cannot be used until it is partitioned and formatted. Choose the VBox disk and click the ‘Erase’ tab. Under Erase, choose Mac OS X Extended (Journaled) and then name it ‘Hard Disk’ (or whatever you want to call it) and click the ‘Erase’ button. It will confirm that you want to do this, so click ‘Erase’ again. Exit Disk Utility and continue the installation. It will probably take 30-40 minutes to install Mac OS X depending on various factors.

Mac OS X Installed — What’s Next?

If you’ve installed from the Nawcom ModCD, then skip this part and go directly to Final Steps + Increasing screen resolution.  If you’ve installed from tonymacx86.com’s CD, you may still need to install MyHack.  If you’ve installed from Prasys’ Empire EFI CD, you will need to install MyHack.  So, continue on.

Ok, so now that Mac OS X is installed, the system still won’t boot up without the EFI disk. So, reboot after the install with the Empire EFI ISO in the drive. Choose the new bootable ‘Hard Disk’ in the EFI menu and boot into Mac OS X. Once Mac OS X is loaded, open Preferences and set the ‘Startup Disk’ to your new bootable installation. Now, open Safari and search Google for ‘MyHack’ or locate this Randosity article in Safari and go to this site: MyHack. The download will be a package (.mpkg) file and needs to be downloaded on Mac OS X. Once downloaded, double-click the package to install. Click through the Wizard until you get the screen with the ‘Customize’ button. Click Customize and enable PS2Controller (keyboard and mouse) and disable SleepEnabler (doesn’t work with later OS X versions). Click to finish the installation process.

After MyHack is installed, you can eject the Empire EFI media and your Mac OS X installation will now boot on its own.

Final Steps + Increasing screen resolution

You’ll notice that the resolution is fixed to 1024×768. You can change this resolution, but it has to be done in two files. First on Mac OS X, there’s the /Extra/com.apple.Boot.plist file. This file describes the resolution for the Mac to use. Before you edit this file, install Xcode from the Mac OS X media (insert it into the drive with the Mac running). Open ‘Optional Installs’ folder and double-click ‘Xcode’ and follow the installation instructions. Note, it takes about 2.3GB of space. Plist files are easier to edit when the Property List Editor is installed from Xcode. Otherwise, you will have to hand edit these files with TextEdit.

Also note that the /Extra folder is at the root of the Hard Drive volume.  It is not inside your local user profile folder.  You will also note that after a default install, Mac OS X doesn’t show hard disk icons on the desktop.  To turn this icon on, from the top menu, select ‘Finder->Preferences…’.  Then, put a check next to ‘Hard Disks’ under ‘Show these items on the desktop’.  Once you open the Hard Disk icon, you should see the Extra folder.  If you still don’t see the Extra folder, be sure that you have installed MyHack or used the Nawcom ModCD.  If MyHack hasn’t been installed, there won’t be an /Extra folder there.  The Extra folder gets installed as a result of installing MyHack.

Also, there can only be one available resolution in Virtualbox and on the Mac at a given time. I wish it supported more resolutions at once, but it doesn’t. Note also that because VirtualBox doesn’t support Mac OS X fully, there are no machine additions. To enable the resolution, on the PC side of VirtualBox (on the VirtualBox host), you will need to run the following command from a command shell (cmd):

VBoxManage setextradata "Mac OS X" "CustomVideoMode1" "1920x1080x32"

The “Mac OS X’ label is the exact machine name in VirtualBox. The “1920x1080x32” setting is customizable to your needs (and video card capabilities). However, both this setting and com.apple.boot.plist (on the Mac) must match for the screen resolution to take effect.

The ‘VBoxManage’ command is located in the Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox folder or wherever you installed VirtualBox. You can add this location to your PATH variable so you can use this command without typing in the full path each time.

In the com.apple.Boot.plist file, you will need to add the following properties (if not already there):

Graphics Mode - String - 1920x1080x32
GraphicsEnabler - String - y

(The resolution value should match the above VboxManage command). If you want to change resolutions later, you will need to edit both places again and reboot your Mac.

If you reboot and the screen hasn’t changed or has changed to 1280×1024 and not the resolution you expected, double check that both com.apple.boot.plist and the CustomVideoMode1 setting match and are active. Both of these settings must match for the resolution to work.

Updating com.apple.Boot.plist

It’s easiest to edit this file with the Property List Editor tool. So, install Xcode before managing this file. In order to edit this file, you cannot edit it directly. Instead, copy the file and paste it to your desktop. Edit the file on your desktop. Then, once done editing, drop the file on top of the /Extra folder. Click “Replace File” when asked and supply your account password. Once the file is replaced, you can reboot to see if the resolution change has taken effect.

Audio Support

Update: On my HP quad core system, I am unable to get the AC97 sound driver to work on 10.6.4 (as have others). I have uninstalled and reinstalled this kernel extension, but it simply will not activate. I am still working with this setup to see if I can get it working, but so far no luck. I should point out, then, that the AC97 sound driver may not work on all systems and may not work with 10.6.4. So, you may not want to update to 10.6.4 until this issue is resolved if you need sound.

Mac OS X does support audio output with an AC97 audio driver in Snow Leopard up to 10.6.3. It does not appear to support audio input. I will say, however, that the audio driver is, at best, under performing. That means, it breaks up, it doesn’t always work and it generally sounds crappy. That said, if you want to hear the various insundry noises that the Mac can make for bells, you can install the driver. The AC97 driver can be found in this Virtualbox Forum Thread.

Note, if the supplied installer does not properly install the driver, download the .zip file and install the AppleAC97Audio.kext Extension the into /Extra/Extensions folder. Then follow the instructions below on rebuilding the Extensions.mkext file.

Kernel Extensions — Rebuilding .mkext cache files (Kernel Extension Cache)

Mac OS has always been known for its extensions. Well, Mac OS X is no different in this respect. In the original Mac, you simply drop the extension into the Extensions folder and it works. Well, unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple with Mac OS X. If you want to drop in a .kext file (extension), you will need to rebuild the Extensions.mkext database. This database is what helps Mac OS X find and work with installed extensions. To rebuild these cache files, you will need to use the following Terminal.app as root:

# kextcache -v 1 -t -m /Extra/Extensions.mkext /Extra/Extensions/ /System/Library/Extensions/
# kextcache -v 1 -t -m /System/Library/Caches/com.apple.kext.caches/Startup/Extensions.mkext /System/Library/Extensions/

Running these commands will rebuild the cache files necessary to activate newly installed extensions. So, if you need to install any new extensions, you will need to run the above commands to recreate the extension cache files.

Creating an ISO image with ImgBurn

To create an ISO image using ImgBurn, you will first need to download and install it. Once it’s installed, start it up. Now click ‘Create image file from disc’. Insert the Mac OS X CD. The CD will be labeled ‘Boot Camp’. This is fine as this is the only partition that Windows is able to see. As long as it sees the ‘Boot Camp’ partition, the image will be created correctly. Click the CD icon at the bottom of the Window to create your ISO image. Once the image has been created, you can continue at your previous step.

Rebooting the Mac

As a side note about rebooting. With some hardware, rebooting Mac OS X in VirtualBox doesn’t work. Sometimes it seems to hang, sometimes it gives a banner telling you to power off the machine. Basically, there isn’t really a resolution to this issue. Simply use shutdown, then when it appears all disk activity has stopped, close the Vbox window (making sure to power it off). Then click ‘Start’ again to start it up. This is really more of an inconvenience than anything, but it’s manageable.

Updating Mac OS X

As new updates get released by Apple, you may be tempted to install them immediately.  While this shouldn’t be a problem on a real Mac, it is possible that a security or full update from Apple could break VirtualBox installations accidentally (or, more likely, intentionally).  Since Virtualbox offers snapshot capabilities, I recommend taking advantage of this and do the following:

  • Cancel any updates
  • Shutdown Mac OS X
  • Take a snapshot of your Mac OS X Guest in the Virtualbox console
  • Start up Mac OS X
  • Update OS X

If the update causes your system to stop booting, stop working or in any way become broken, you can revert to the snapshot and not update.  On the other hand, if the update works perfectly, then I recommend you delete the snapshot once you feel comfortable that the update is working as expected.  If the update doesn’t work, you may need some updated components such as the Chameleon boot loader or an updated boot disk to handle the new OS update.


* I suggest using a VMDK HD image as there are more tools for VMDK format files than VDI files. Though, your choice. If you want to use a VMDK file, go to vmcreator.com and have them make you a file to download.

** VirtualBox’s EFI works, but not with Mac OS X. Whether that’s intentional is unknown. Instead, you need to use the Empire EFI ISO disk to boot Mac OS X to install it.

*** You may have to enable VT-x/AMD-v in your machine’s BIOS.

**** Click the ‘Add’ button in the Media Library window to locate your ISO image, then make sure this file is selected and click ‘Select’.

110 Responses

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  1. cool bike frames said, on June 14, 2016 at 3:28 am

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    • commorancy said, on June 15, 2016 at 4:56 am

      No, no spam issues at all on this site. The WordPress spam engine does its job nicely. Thanks for asking, even though this question is completely off topic from the article.


  2. UncleBazerko said, on June 14, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    Readying VM for First Use
    Now you have a new VM for Mac OS X set up, it’s not to use ready yet. So, Let’s ready it for use:

    *Under Storage, IDE controller type must be ICH6

    ICH6 was not available in the dropdown box. Is there something I need to do to make ICH6 appear in the dropdown box? And does the ISO file (Boot Camp) that I created with ImgBurn belong in the controller tree? If not, how do I mount the ISO file to make my VM work?

    *Also under Storage, click ‘Empty’ cdrom drive and set the Empire EFI disk to this drive using the Folder icon****.

    Why am I no longer seeing ‘Empty’ cdrom drive?

    *Now you’re ready to start the install process. Click the ‘Start’ button to start the Mac OS X virtual machine. Once the Empire EFI screen has loaded,…

    When you say Empire EFI screen, do you mean the screen you get when you start your VM with the OSX86_ModCD ISO selected?

    *eject the Empire EFI ISO image by unchecking it from the Devices->CD/DVD Devices Menu and then locate your Mac OS X Install ISO and select this. If you have the original media and want to create an ISO, go to the ‘Creating an ISO image with ImgBurn’ section below. After the Mac OS X install ISO is selected and you’re back at EFI, press the F5 key…

    I can’t proceed to press the F5 key, because it doesn’t boot, which I can’t understand, because I know that my Boot Camp ISO file exists in my directory and is selected. I got my Boot Camp ISO file directly from a Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.3 installation CD, so why won’t my ISO file activate?

    *The screen should refresh to show the newly inserted Mac OS X install media. Once it shows the install media, press the enter key to begin installation.
    Note, if you start this process using the Empire ISO image, then you must use a Mac OS X Install ISO. If you want to use the physical media, then you’ll need to burn the Empire ISO to a CD and boot from the physical media drive in VirtualBox. You can then eject that media and insert the Mac OS X install media.

    When you say ‘eject that media’, do you mean go to Devices->CD/DVD Devices Menu, and select “Remove disk form virtual drive”?


    • commorancy said, on June 15, 2014 at 9:37 am

      If you are using ISO media, yes. Eject it from the menu as you described. If you are using physical media, you’ll press the eject button on the drive.


  3. Laven Master said, on September 19, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    This is absolutely perfect Thanks for putting this out there!


  4. Da_Boom said, on June 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    FInally got it working :P
    NOw all i have to do is wait for guest additions, so i can use imovie (I hope they will develop them)


  5. Da_Boom said, on June 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I Have a Problem with VBOXMANAGE, i want to set the resolution to 1366x768x32, i set the .plist fine, but the vboxmanage does not want to cooperate it comes up with: Could Not find a registered machine named ‘Mac OS X’, could it be that the VM is on an external Hardrive, or is it someother problem? (Like having my machine set to x64 because its the only way to use all 4 cores without reciving a kernel panic at bootup)

    I do not have enough space to move the vm onto the PCs HDD (19.6 GB free)


  6. stevedev said, on April 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    I managed to get the latest snow leopard patch up and running under virtualbox. However the problem I’m having now is — if I leave the vm idle, I will eventually get the dark gray popup from snow leopard that reads: You need to restart your computer. Hold down the Power button until it turns off, then press the Power button again.
    This happens consistently for me when leaving the vm idle. Any suggestions?


    • commorancy said, on April 11, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      Hi Steve,

      Try disabling power saving features like screen blanking and hard drive spindown. It is likely to do with managing these drivers which isn’t necessary on a VM. Let me know if this works.



  7. ahmetc said, on January 31, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    this methods my laptop not work
    (i7, 2630qm, 8gb ram and amd ati 6770m graphics card)
    please help me :S


    • commorancy said, on February 2, 2012 at 6:35 am

      Notebooks can be tricky to get Virtualbox + MacOS X running on. Depending on the chipsets used (especially if it’s a recently released notebook), the CPU or graphics card may be too new for Nawcom or other MacOS X boot CDs. If you can’t get it to work with what’s listed on this doc, then you may have to wait until Nawcom or another boot CD creator updates their CD to support newer notebook models.

      Note that this is a generalized statement and covers all notebook types. If you buy a recent notebook from the store and wish to install VirtualBox + Mac OS X Snow Leopard, your mileage may vary and this article may not work for you.

      Good Luck.


  8. seo said, on January 31, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    With havin so much content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement? My site has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my authorization. Do you know any ways to help protect against content from being stolen? I’d definitely appreciate it.


    • commorancy said, on February 2, 2012 at 6:42 am

      Actually, I don’t worry about it. My articles are generally so specific and not always necessarily current news that I’ve found no reason to try and protect my articles. Even if I could protect them, I’m not even sure how to make that work. However, were I to find an article plagiarized somewhere else on the web, I’m not sure what I would or could do about it were it a small insignificant site. However, were the New York Times or the L.A. Times to reprint one of my articles without permission, I’d probably seek legal help at that point. If you are producing high quality content on your site, though, you might want to contact a magazine or other site that’s inline with your topics and see if you can write for them. Writing for a publication puts the weight of that publication behind your words legally. So, if someone steals your words from a published article, the consequences are a lot more severe than stealing from some random blog.

      Thanks and good luck.


  9. trainingday said, on January 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Mac is awesome wants to make me by a macbook pro! Just a few cleanups that worked for me. I switched my audio to my default intel hd audio and it worked great. I did not get the ac97 to work so I tried it before downloading and it perfect. Also, had to download flash for safari cause youtube kept crashing and now youtube is working. Really appreciate this blog thanks!


  10. trainingday said, on January 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Thanks!! You where the first post out of 20 I read that explained why I could never get the iso file to work. As you stated I had to use the “.dmg” file and hit refresh i made the iso file with 10 different programs thinking that was the problem, and did not need to at all. wow I came to this post after googling “eject efi disk and hit f5” and I am so fortunate to read this blog. Good job and thanks!


    • commorancy said, on January 22, 2012 at 7:16 am

      Thanks. I’m glad you were able to get it working and this tutorial was helpful. Most of the information I have gathered from both experience and other sites. I tried to put together as complete a guide as possible. I know there are lots of pieces here and some of it does require a bit of personal trial and error. Again, I’m glad it helped you get it working.


  11. Michael F. said, on November 29, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Great !
    You’re the FIRST one ever (And i mean all popular Hackintosh sites!) who clearly outlines that it only needs to change BOTH at the same time: VirtualBox CustomResolution AND SnowLeopard Preferences/boot.plist -> AND NOTHING ELSE. No Nvidia, No Ati kext, – as there is no nvidia hardware emulated in Virtualbox (It’s some strange kind of “generic”…).

    After three days and nights of research i finally got it !
    Thanks a lot.

    :fall_down_and_bow: ;)



  12. […] attempted about a dozen different methods and boot loader discs. My latest attempt I found on Randosity’s blog. So far, his method has gotten me the furthest along. I’ll report more once I’m up and […]


  13. Dennis Howlett (@dahowlett) said, on October 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    I used the instructions for Empire EFI (NawCon didn’t want to play nice) and they worked perfectly. The only nit is that on my 2560×1440 monitor, OSX wants the whole screen (naturally) but it runs up against the pre-existing Win 7 borders. That means the dock only works on one position – LH side. It’s a mild pain but other than that just seems fine. I’ll be interested to see how the graphics fare running Adobe Premier Production suite. I may not be able to take advantage of all speed settings. We’ll see.

    Excellent tutorial. Very helpful to me.


  14. Eli B. said, on October 12, 2011 at 9:46 pm


    So after reading this post and a few others I decided to go the iBoot route to install Snow Leopard on my x220 in Virtualbox as it seems to have better support for Sandy Bridge than nawcom’s disk (10.8.0 kernel).
    Everything is hunky-dory after doing the 10.6.8 combo update and running MultiBeast before restarting: networking is fine, sound works through VoodooHDA kext.

    About This Mac and shutdown-restart do not work, but to my knowledge this is not fixable, right?

    Video acceleration also does not work, but this is a function of Oracle not releasing Guest Additions for OSX, right? Because MultiBeast/chimera officially support Intel HD Graphics 3000 but I’m gettin’ no video support, either in or out of the browser. I managed to change the resolution to 1366×768 using the instructions here.

    Other notes- Security Update 2011-005 dmg installs without issue, but 2011-006 via Software Update (just released) doesn’t work. Java Update 5 dmg works fine. Safari 5.1 will not work without 2011-006 and will hose your partition. Any sites that use flash will crash Safari unless you update to Flash 11. iTunes 10.5 works without incident.

    Thanks a lot for this post; it was very helpful.



    • Eli B. said, on October 16, 2011 at 6:57 pm

      Hmm. Installing SecUpd 2011-006 works via a dmg installer; not Software Update. Ditto for Safari 5.1.1.
      However, sound with VoodooHDA (with IntelHDA checked in VirtualBox settings) is terrible. I’ve uninstalled it, but the preference pane persists even though the associated .prefpane file you’d assume would exist isn’t there under /Library/PreferencePanes or ~/Library/PreferencePanes.
      Also: VirtualBox’s efi *does* in fact work – other bootloaders are not strictly necessary – however boot times are quite slow, and custom graphics modes other than the 5 gops (e.g. anything other than a few fullscreen options; no 1366×768/1280×768/any other standard widescreen resolutions except for 1440×900) does not seem to be possible without being able to modify VirtualBox’s efi implementation. On the plus side, ‘About This Mac’ doesn’t crash and Shutdown/Restart works correctly instead of causing a kernel panic. I’ve kept a working 10.6.8 image for posterity, but don’t expect to use it much.
      Oh, and XCode 4.0.2 installs without issue, too.


      • commorancy said, on October 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm

        Thanks for the update on your computer. I’ll have to see if I get all of your suggestions working and update my article with the specifics.

        Oh, and one other note.. the Pref Pane might have been dropped into a different location than those two. You might need to use ‘find’ to locate the file on your hard disk. It’s probably in a directory where you wouldn’t expect it to be. Either that or it’s left some other information out there.

        As for VirtualBox’s EFI. It might work now. The problem is, I’ve never been able to get it functioning on my setup in previous versions. It’s also not easy to explain how to use it as more times than not it doesn’t work. Of course, the VirtualBox developers have probably recently fixed their EFI to boot desktop OS X. I already know it will boot Server OS X fine. It’s just that the VBox developers were trying not to be rogue and abiding by Apple’s wishes of preventing it from booting. That sentiment may have changed recently and they may have reversed that decision. Of course, the challenge is to get Lion working which is what people are going to want.


      • Da_Boom said, on June 20, 2012 at 10:47 am

        I tried using the EFI on my Aspre 3830T and it crashes, also i tried Mac OS X SERVER x64 and it didnt crash, it gave a kernel panic instead One line of this panic i saw was: unsupported CPU model, and the notebook had a i5 processor

        i searched around, tried a few things but as far as i found out, you need to use proper mac hardware and thats hugely overpriced


        • commorancy said, on June 20, 2012 at 11:40 am

          You can get SL booted on VirtualBox. You just have to get the correct CD for your CPU and have your CPU settings set up correctly in your BIOS. Specifically, hyperthreading turned on, virtualization support enabled, etc. After that, it should all pass through correctly to VirtualBox. Make sure, of course, to download the 64 bit version of VirtualBox. Snow Leopard and Lion both require a 64 bit CPU. So, unless you have virtualization support turned on in the bios with 64 bit pass through, you won’t be able to run a 64 bit operating system. So, Snow Leopard won’t load.

          Specifically in the article, I write:

          Under Acceleration, Enable VT-x/AMD-v (must be enabled). Without this setting, you can’t run Mac OS X in VBox.***

          I’ll explain this setting. This is the Virtualization setting that must be enabled in the BIOS. This is what allows 64 bit pass through to VirtualBox. Without this setting enabled, all VMs will run in 32 bit mode. 32 bit mode and 32 bit CPUs are not supported by Snow Leopard or Lion. So, you will see ‘unsupported CPU type’ and or kernel panics.

          Assuming you have 64 bit correctly set up.. for unsupported CPUs, you need to use the Legacy EFI. Not all Core i5 CPUs are properly supported. I would suggest downloading the Nawcom bootloader or locate a newer EFI CD/DVD. There are several boot CDs out there. Note, however, that new CPUs aren’t immediately supported by the boot CDs. So, you may have to wait until your CPU is supported. However, since it is a Core i5, I might suggest either the legacy EFI CD or Nawcom CD first.

          If you can’t run a 64 bit OS on your i5 or you don’t have it installed, you won’t be able to run Snow Leopard in Virtualbox. You will first need to reinstall Windows as 64 bit, then install 64 bit version of Virtualbox and finally (with the correct boot CD) boot Snow Leopard with the EFI cd.



        • commorancy said, on June 22, 2012 at 3:29 am

          Note additionally, if you are installing Mac OS X Server, you can use VirtualBox’s built-in EFI. The built-in EFI will boot Mac OS X Server just fine. If you want to run the desktop edition of Mac OS X in VirtualBox, this is where you will need an external EFI disk.



  15. Joe said, on September 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Hi, when installing in virtual box it seems you need to install guest additions to get a fullscreen mode, is this the case with snow leopard because I can’t find a way around this?


    • commorancy said, on September 17, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      Under supported operating systems, you will install the Guest Additions. Because Snow Leopard is not a supported operating system, there are no Guest Additions available. You can, however, get full screen mode by following the procedure outlined in this article when using Chameleon boot loader. However, upgrading to later versions of Snow Leopard my break the Chameleon boot loader. If that’s the case, then this may also break the ability to use higher resolutions. Note that the resolutions are dependent on the boot loader to support the resolution. That doesn’t mean Chameleon won’t be supported on later versions of Snow Leopard, it just means that those versions may not work properly until it becomes supported.



  16. John said, on August 31, 2011 at 9:13 am

    This worked astonishingly well on my Dell inspiron 1501 – AMD Turion 64X2 – 2GB Ram – Win XP host – ATI Radeon Express 1150.

    Speed wise it’s surprisingly quick. I used a retail OSX cd with the NawCom bootloader. Haven’t bothered setting sound (not really interested in music applications :D ) or video because I’m happy with the low res for now, but this was awesome. Thanks.

    The resources/links on this post are really useful also. Good job.


  17. Michael said, on August 24, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Thanks much for your post. Using it, and the updated version of the ModCD (http://blog.nawcom.com/?p=446) I was able to get OS X 10.6 installed in VirtualBox on my ThinkPad X220 (i5) and an external USB CD/DVD Drive (LaCie). The only thing that went a bit odd was that the install stopped at 10 minutes remaining and hung there for 30 minutes. It never resolved so I shut it down, started up the machine and it worked fine.


    • commorancy said, on August 24, 2011 at 7:15 am

      Yeah, the install can be a bit glitchy. Sometimes you may have to install it twice. Or, it may work fine as you have found.


      • Michael said, on August 24, 2011 at 7:24 am

        What really amazed me is that I first tried installing OS X Server, which is supported by VirtualBox using their built-in EFI and that wouldn’t even get to the install screen. I’d like to try the ModCD to do an actual install on this machine and see if that works as well.


      • Michael said, on August 24, 2011 at 7:29 am

        And, I can confirm, as you mentioned that a 10.6.8 update kills it, even with the newest version of the ModCD. Snapshots, as you suggest, are vital. :)


  18. Genevieve-Kira Fontana-Crannock said, on August 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Been working on this for 3 days. Empire’s EFI (AMD above for Sempron) and Nawcom both start to load the retail iso (tried 10.6.7) then stops at [PCI Configuration Begin] – I got further than that with a Hazard distro.. at least I could get that to fully install but not boot afterward, so I know this problem is possible to bypass, I just have no clue how to do it. I’m on win 7 64 with these specs: http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01980785&tmp_task=prodinfoCategory&cc=us&dlc=en&lc=en&product=4125444 Using VBox 4.12

    Anyone help?


    • commorancy said, on August 17, 2011 at 1:10 am

      Hi Genevieve,

      I don’t personally own any AMD Sempron systems, but it’s possible that the chip in your system is just new enough that the AMD boot CDs don’t recognize it. If you can get the Hazard distro to work, then I would suggest trying to locate the boot system that boots the Hazard disk. If it can boot Hazard, it can boot the OS. The trick, though, is that it may not be able to boot as standalone. So, you may have to settle for booting your system from a boot CD. You can do this easily enough by adding an extra CD drive to your Virtualbox system and leave that boot CD in that drive all of the time. This way, your system will always boot properly. As time progresses, your processor type may be fully supported and you may be able to load Chameleon or another boot loader to get it to boot standalone. I hope this helps.



  19. Bobby Novare said, on July 27, 2011 at 11:22 am

    After couple of days “fighting” with settings, I have working mac on my e-machine. It does have AMD. I am getting problem with sound. It is working, but when playing chess, the sound crackling. Beside that, everything else work.
    Too bad that Mac can not see ntfs partition.


    • commorancy said, on July 27, 2011 at 11:05 pm

      Hi Bobby,

      I’m glad you were able to get it working. As was stated, the sound is, at best, underwhelming. So, I wouldn’t expect much here. Also, it can easily break if you update to a version later than 10.6.3, so don’t get too tied to the sound part. If you’re looking for high quality sound, I’d recommend getting a real mac or use the host OS for that.

      As for mounting NTFS partitions, there are several ways to handle this.

      1) If your base OS is Windows, mount the drive on Windows, share it out on Windows and mount it on the Mac as a shared drive.
      2) If your base OS is Linux, use ntfs3g to mount the drive, share it out with Samba and then mount it on the Mac
      3) Create a raw drive connector on your base OS and mount the raw drive as an IDE drive and mount the drive on Mac with ntfs3g

      You can create the raw VMDK drive connector with vboxmanage internalcommands createrawvmdk. Note that this can be tricky to do on Windows as the raw device names on Windows aren’t easy to guess. On Linux, you just make sure to choose device for the full drive when using createrawvmdk.


      createrawvmdk -filename -rawdisk
      [-partitions [-mbr ] ]
      Creates a new VMDK image which gives access to an entite host disk (if
      the parameter -partitions is not specified) or some partitions of a
      host disk. If access to individual partitions is granted, then the
      parameter -mbr can be used to specify an alternative MBR to be used
      (the partitioning information in the MBR file is ignored).
      The diskname is on Linux e.g. /dev/sda, and on Windows e.g.
      On Linux or FreeBSD host the parameter -relative causes a VMDK file to
      be created which refers to individual partitions instead to the entire
      The necessary partition numbers can be queried with
      VBoxManage internalcommands listpartitions

      Note that creating a raw drive connector can be dangerous as you’re letting Mac write to the entire drive. I’ve never had issues with this, but it does allow you to give an entire physical device to a virtual machine.

      One additional caution. While ntfs3g does a reasonably good job at maintaining the proper state with NTFS formatted filesystems, it wasn’t written by Microsoft. Therefore, there may be times where ntfs3g doesn’t properly manage the MFT table and can leave the filesystem in a state that needs to be repaired. So, if you decide to use ntfs3g, you may need to repair the drive on Windows from time to time.

      If you want to use a physical drive on the Mac, I suggest using an HFS+ partition. So, create a raw vmdk image (like above) for the physical drive on the host and format the drive as HFS+ on the Mac or use FAT32 which both Windows and Mac can manage. Windows won’t be able to read it easily. Linux may have a way.

      Good Luck.


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