Random Thoughts – Randocity!

Installing Mac OS X (Snow Leopard) in VMWare Player 3

Posted in Apple, Mac OS X, Uncategorized, virtualization by commorancy on January 9, 2011


With this article, I’ll start by saying.. please purchase your copy of Mac OS X desktop software from Apple. It’s $29 and you get the original media (which is always good to have on hand).



To start, here are the softwares you will need:

Installing Mac OS X on VMWare Player is a pretty simple install, but note that there are some important issues that aren’t yet resolved. I’ll explain the issues, however, after the install steps.


Inside the Empire EFI 1.3.2 archive, you will see the following files:

You will see that the extracted ‘Snowy_VM’ folder contains several files besides just the EFI media.  Inside the Mac OS X Server*.vmwarevm directory, you’ll see it contains two .vmx templates for VMWare.  Use the .vmx file without the underscore at the beginning.  Note, you’ll need to use this template to get the install going.  It’s far simpler to use their existing template than trying to figure out all the proper VMWare Player settings.  So, use what’s given rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.  If you absolutely feel you want to reinvent, then I’ll leave that for you to determine what’s necessary.

To begin, inside VMWare Player, select File->Open a Virtual Machine.  Find the .vmx file mentioned just above and open it.  Once opened, it will appear as ‘Mac OS X Server 10.6 (experimental)’ in the VMWare Player selection panel.  From here, you will need to modify the settings for the CDROM device under this machine.  Choose the ‘Mac OS X Server 10.6 (experimental)’ imported machine and choose ‘Edit virtual machine settings’ on the bottom right of the window.  Now click the on the CDROM device and under ‘Connection’ change it to ‘Use ISO image’ and browse to and select the darwin_snow.iso image inside the Snowy_VM directory’. Click ‘OK’.

You’re now ready to boot.  So, click ‘Play Virtual Machine’.  Once the machine has started and the system begins searching for a CDROM (read the text on the screen), you will need to change the CDROM to the Mac OS X Snow Leopard media.  I recommend using an ISO media to install. So, I will assume you are using an ISO image here.  At the bottom of the active VM Window, right click the CDROM icon which may now be greyed out (disconnected) and choose ‘Settings’.  Locate the Snow Leopard media on your hard drive and click ‘OK’ to accept it.  Check the box next to ‘Connected’ at the top of the window and click ‘OK’ at the bottom.

The system should recognize the disk change and begin to boot the media in about 10 seconds.  Once the install begins, you are now installing Mac OS X.  Follow the steps to install Mac OS X.  Once Mac OS X is installed, reboot.  Note the hard drive given in this Snowy_VM archive is ‘ready to go’.  So you don’t need to format it.

Booting issues with VMWare Player and Mac OS X

Let’s pause and explain this.  When you reboot the first time, the system may or may not boot up.  There are two behaviors you should watch for.  The first behavior is that you get to the Apple Logo screen with the spinning lines.  If it never progresses beyond this grey screen, then you will need to reboot and try again.

The second behavior is that it may get past the grey screen, but then Finder never appears and you see a forever spinning cursor.  If you see this, you will need to reboot and try again.

These issues are annoying, but that’s why this is ‘experimental’.  So, we live with these issues.

The third issue is that you will need to continually leave the darwin_snow.iso image in the drive all of the time to boot up Mac OS X. Hey, at least it works.  Leaving it in the drive is really not a problem as it boots up so quickly.  Perhaps they can create a standalone booter later, but for now this works.

Note, I recommend setting up a second CDROM drive inside your Mac OS X virtual machine’s settings.  This way, you leave one CDROM always set up with darwin_snow.iso and you use the second one to load/unload other ISO images.  If you like, you can set the second one up to your physical drive also so you can pop real CDs in the drives as you need.  Note that if you change the darwin_snow.iso image to something else, you have to remember to set it back when you’re done.  If you don’t do this, Mac OS X won’t boot.  So, this is why I recommend setting up a second drive for loading ISO images.

Booting up successfully

After getting through any unsuccessful boot attempts (or not), you should get to the registration screen.  After going through all of the registration screens you will be at the standard Finder desktop.  At this point, you might want to change things like Sound and Display. Note that the sound and display drivers are just about as good as what’s in Virtual Box.  In fact, Virtual Box’s resolution setup is a bit more complete than this.  So, don’t expect a whole lot here.

Suffice it to say that you will need to follow editing of the apple.com.Boot.plist file as in the ‘Installing Mac OS X on VirtualBox‘ article on Randosity.  Add in the lines related to the graphics.  Once you have done this, edit the virtual machine in VMWare player and choose the Display setup.   Under ‘Monitors’ change it to ‘Specify Monitor Settings’ and manually change the maximum resolution to ‘1366×768’. When you reboot, Mac OS X should go into this mode.  If it doesn’t work, then you may have to fiddle with the apple.com.Boot.plist file until it works.  Note that the resolutions here are limited, so don’t try to set up some odd resolution as it won’t work.

Note, this is the best resolution I could find.  Note that in the above directory, you’ll see the file ‘EnsoniqAudioPCI.mpkg.tar’.  This is a Mac OS X driver for audio.  I have tried installing this without success.  But, your mileage may go farther.  The trick is in getting this into the Mac.  So, you’ll need to start a browser and download the EFI file again on the Mac.  Then extract it, find this file and install it.

At this point, you should be all set.  You may run into the booting issues from time to time, just reboot until it boots up.  Hopefully this booting issue will be fixed at some point.  Good luck and happy installing.

If you’re looking for something that boots consistently for Mac OS X, has better video mode support and working sound, then I would suggest setting up Mac OS X on VirtualBox. The setup for VirtualBox is a little more complex, but it boots consistently every time, has its own standalone boot loader and offers a few more features.

If you have questions, please leave a comment below.

14 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. rolet said, on January 5, 2013 at 5:04 am

    Hi, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog site in Chrome, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then
    that, very good blog!


    • commorancy said, on January 5, 2013 at 9:47 pm

      Hi Rolet,

      This article looks (as does the rest of the blog) the same in Internet Explorer 9 as it does in Chrome on my system. It’s likely something specific to your computer. So, you might want to check your computer for unwanted extensions in IE. Some browser extensions can interfere with page rendering.

      Good Luck.



  2. Dominic said, on June 27, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    This works a treat… I’m using Windows 7, intel i7 processor clocked to 4.5GHz, 16GB RAM and a monitor 1920×1200 resolution monitor. I’m using a geniune copy of Snow Leopard (purchased from ebay) but I had to make an image of the disc using ImgBurn in order to use it. I adjusted the VM to 4GB as well, which makes a massive difference to performance. The only problem I got is the restricted resolution to 1024×768. If I make it bigger, it just doesn’t boot properly. Any ideas?


    • commorancy said, on June 27, 2012 at 10:24 pm

      Hi Dominic,

      I thought this was in response to my VirtualBox Posting. Let me work through this issue in VMWare and come up with a possible solution. Sorry for any confusion.



  3. ptn77 said, on March 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I got this installed and working for a while. After shutting down my laptop and booting back up again today, I have been unable to get past the apple welcome screen. Tried rebooting several times and still no luck…
    Wish the booting was more reliable…so frutstrating..
    If there is a resolution to this, please post



    • commorancy said, on March 17, 2012 at 11:49 am

      I am unaware of any resolution to this rebooting issue. Although, I have been able to get it to reboot after a number of times. With some non-Intel CPUs, though, this may be more difficult than normal. You might try reinstalling over the top of what’s out there. It may help refresh any installation problems that may correct the rebooting issue. The other option is create an ISO of the boot CD. Then, add a second CD drive to your VirtualBox. Place the boot CD into the second CD drive and boot your installation from the CD. It seems the CD boot loader is stable and works all of the time. So, using the boot CD trick bypasses the standalone boot loader which seems to be the problem.

      That’s the best I can offer with this.

      Good luck.


  4. Mike said, on September 22, 2011 at 4:06 am

    I setup a VMWare Player of OS X Snow Leopard for my intro to OS class I teach. Got a running copy on my home PC. Copied the VMware player files to all the student PCs. I was trying to the VMWare player OSX to boot on my instructor PC (Just get the grey Apple screen and once the desktop however finder never loaded; like you mentioned).
    Is it best to just just keep rebooting till we get it? And if so should we exit VMware player completely and re-lauch or just keep issuing “restart” from the VM player menu each time until we get it running?



    • commorancy said, on September 22, 2011 at 5:24 am

      Hi Mike,

      Yes, it should be fine just to keep rebooting it until it starts up. Unfortunately, the booter seems to be unreliable causing it to stop at various points during the boot process. I do not fully understand what the issue is, but it may have something to do with certain kernel drivers being loaded and the timings of them. I haven’t had a problem with hard booting (aka reset) until it works. However, if you are concerned that it could become a problem, I’d suggest taking a snapshot (or make a copy) of the VM. Then, if one of the resets happens to corrupt the Mac’s drive, you can easily restore to a previously known working copy. Snapshots work best if you intend to work on the VM and save files to it. So, after your done for the day, shut it down and make a snapshot.

      As for restarting VMWare Player, there’s no real need. Resetting it should be enough. That said, though, there may be bugs in VMWare player that could present after a number of reboots if you leave it running constantly. But it shouldn’t be a problem to reset it several times in a row to get it working on a recently launched copy of VMWare Player.



  5. Len said, on August 28, 2011 at 12:43 am

    I got this to work on an toshiba 6GB AMD laptop with the new llano chipset. I run 1920X1080 on a separate monitor on a dual screen. The only issues are:

    No youtube video, just audio. Updated flash, and checked for 3d acceleration, its there. Other flash videos work but like a 10 year old PC(its watchable). It is not using the Powerful on chip GPU as recorded by system monitor. Too bad it can’t pass thru video.
    Does not recognize ipod, Vmware sees it but itunes don’t
    Mediocre speed, but the illano chipsets arent speed demons to start. I think it would be very nice off an SSD, seems pretty snappy when stuff is cached up and loaded.

    Other wise its usable to do some Xcode development, browse the web etc. I wrote an app already but had to move it to another machine to load on the device. I used the Empire EFI with the star wars guy. My 17″ 450$ Macbook pro :)


    • commorancy said, on August 29, 2011 at 3:39 am

      I’d have to assume that most people trying to set up a Hackintosh are doing so for reasons other than audio and video (i.e., iphone or app development). If you’re looking for perfect audio and video, this is not the answer, unfortunately. I’d suggest getting a PC that can support running the Mac OS X directly and set up Boot Camp. This will let you boot into Mac OS X natively and likely give you a better quality audio and video (assuming the drivers are working properly). It’d be kinda nice to know what people are using a Hackintosh for… so, if you feel like responding, please comment with how you are using your Hackintosh.



  6. Farzad said, on August 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    I’ve just tried this and it doesn’t work… basically in the middle of installation it says the computer needs to be shut-down and that’s it, when do so it wont boot-up again…


    • commorancy said, on August 13, 2011 at 9:59 pm

      Hi Farzad,

      Please check your installation media. If you’re not using a store bought retail copy of Snow Leopard, unpredictable results are possible including what you have experienced. Snow Leopard media that comes from a notebook, desktop or that is bundled with any Mac won’t work for this installation. You simply cannot create a virtualized Mac using any media bundled with a Mac. The shutdown process may be as a result of looking for specific hardware that an OEM media needs. Instead, you will need to find a retail copy of Snow Leopard from which to install. Can you confirm whether your media is an actual retail SL copy?

      At this point and since Lion is now out, you may find it hard to locate a Snow Leopard copy. Good luck.


  7. JW said, on April 11, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Has anyone tried importing this into ESX?


    • commorancy said, on April 12, 2011 at 8:25 am

      No, I have not tried this personally. It may work, though, as it should be compatible with most VMWare editions. The issue, though, is the quirky things as mentioned in the article. So, I doubt ESX would resolve those issues. If you have ESX, give it a try and report back?



Comments are encouraged under these rules: 1. No personal attacks allowed. 2. Comments with personal attacks will not be posted. 3. Please keep your words civil. Thank you for contributing!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: