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Virtualising a physical Mac/hard disk/clone/disk image file

Article ID = 232
Article Title = Virtualising a physical Mac/hard disk/clone/disk image file
Article Author(s) = Graham Needham (BH)
Article Created On = 27th March 2019
Article Last Updated = 27th March 2019
Article URL = https://www.macstrategy.com/article.php?232

Article Brief Description:
Instructions for installing, setting up and virtualising a physical Mac/hard disk/disk image file

Virtualising a physical Mac/hard disk/clone/disk image file

The ability to virtualise an existing Mac/macOS installation is important and very useful as it is an easy way to continue running your old Mac and also a possible way to run 32-bit applications that do not run on macOS 10.15 or later. MacStrategy presents this special guide to virtualising a physical Mac/hard disk/clone/disk image file.

This article deals with transferring an existing Mac running Mac OS X / OS X / macOS to a virtual machine, or take a bootable storage device/clone/disk image and convert it into a virtual machine. If you would prefer to set up/install a virtual machine with a clean Mac OS X/OS X/macOS from scratch please see one of the following articles instead:
  • Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (Server) - costs money but you may already be running/want to run this to be able to use PowerPC/Rosetta based applications
  • OS X 10.7 - OS X 10.8 is better
  • OS X 10.8 - costs money but if you already own it/want to pay for it, it runs very efficiently in a virtual machine and there are few internet/iCloud based services clogging it up
  • OS X 10.9 - was very kludgy and slow when installed on a hard disk
  • OS X 10.10 - was slow when installed on a hard disk, does not support latest Apple internet/iCloud based services
  • OS X 10.11 - free, supports most internet/iCloud based services
  • macOS 10.12 - free, supports most internet/iCloud based services
  • macOS 10.13 - buggy, slow, new Apple File System
  • macOS 10.14 - still being revised, new Apple File System

Virtualisation Software

  • Parallels Desktop [£79.99 inc VAT - 14 day free trial available]
    Buy it now at Amazon USA Buy it now at Amazon UK
  • VMWare Fusion [£70.00 inc VAT - 30 day free trial available]
  • Oracle VirtualBox [FREE - Open source under GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2]

Instructions

NOTE: This document was written using a Mac mini (2014 model) with macOS 10.14 Mojave running in 64-bit only test mode and using Parallels Desktop 14.1.2, VMWare Fusion 11.0.2 and VirtualBox 6.0.4.

Preparation

NOTE: You will need the following:
  1. Mac computer for hosting your preferred guest OS preferably with a working Recovery Partition
  2. Make sure your actual, physical Mac has a working internet connection e.g. use a web browser to go to https://www.apple.com and see if you can view a web page
  3. Purchase/install/update your preferred virtualisation software (see list above)
  4. On later versions of macOS your preferred virtualisation software will require specifically allowing their System Extension(s) to run via System Preferences > Security & Privacy, plus they may require to be granted access to Accessibility
  5. macOS System Extension Blocked Warning macOS System Extension Blocked System Preferences
  6. Purchase/download/obtain your preferred cloning software (we list some in our How To Clone Your Primary/Boot Drive article - we highly recommend Carbon Copy Cloner)
  7. If you going to clone from a physical Mac or a clone on a bootable storage device, if possible, boot that system first to make sure it works/is bootable, and also de-activate any software e.g. Adobe Creative Suite (applications)
  8. Bootable physical Mac/hard disk/clone/disk image file of your old system
  9. NOTE: If you have the original Mac you will need to clone its startup disk either to an external storage device (preferably USB) or to a disk image first using, for example, Carbon Copy Cloner.
  10. Make sure you have plenty of free space on your physical Mac's hosting drive - you will need to create a basic Mac OS X / OS X / macOS virtual machine where you may need to copy the disk image file of your old system to + an additional virtual machine drive that has enough space to host your old system
  11. If you are using an external storage device for your bootable clone or to hold the disk image file it's best to rename it to something that is easy to recognise e.g. "VM Transfer"
  12. Create a basic/clean Mac OS X / OS X / macOS virtual machine - if your Mac host computer has a working Recovery Partition, in VMWare Fusion you can easily do this by going to File menu > New… > select "Install macOS from the recovery partition" > click "Continue" and follow the on-screen instructions. Alternatively, use our step-by-step guides:
Instructions for virtualising a physical Mac/hard disk/clone/disk image file with:

Parallels Desktop Instructions

We have not tested this in Parallels Desktop but you should be able to do something similar to what we did in VMWare Fusion - we will update this article when we have more time to test this. Don't forget to donate to us (use the button in the bottom left corner of this web page).

VMWare Fusion

  1. Make sure the basic/clean Mac virtual machine you created in the preparation section above is shutdown
  2. Go to Virtual Machine menu > Settings > Hard Disk (SATA) > click "Add Device…" > select "New Hard Disk" > click "Add…" > choose size > Apply
  3. NOTE: This additional virtual machine drive must be larger than the space used by the physical Mac/hard disk/clone/disk image file of your old system. VMWare Fusion create additional virtual machine drive
  4. Start up/boot the virtual machine
  5. At the Desktop Mac OS X / OS X / macOS will recognise the additional virtual machine drive and ask you to initalize it > click "Initialize" (which will open Disk Utility)
  6. Select the unformatted additional virtual machine drive on the left (VMware Virtual SATA) - this is the one without "Macintosh HD" underneath it
  7. VMWare Fusion erase/format additional virtual machine drive
  8. Set 'Name:' to "Second HD", 'Format:' to "OS X Extended (Journaled)", and 'Scheme:' to "GUID Partition Map" > click "Erase" to initalize/format the additional virtual machine drive (it should now mount/appear on your Desktop if you have the virtual machine's Finder 'Preferences' set to show "Hard Disks")
  9. Click "Erase"
  10. If OS X / macOS asks you whether you want to use the additional virtual machine drive for Time Machine Backups click "Don't Use"
  11. Quit Disk Utility
  12. Connect your physical Mac/clone or hard disk with the disk image file of your old system to your virtual machine OR, if you have enough space, copy the disk image file of your old system on to the virtual machine's Desktop
  13. The physical Mac/clone or hard disk with the disk image file of your old system on it should now mount/appear on your Desktop (if you have the virtual machine's Finder 'Preferences' set to show "Hard Disks") OR double click to open the disk image file of your old system that is now on your virtual machine's Desktop
  14. Using your cloning software of choice, clone your physical Mac/hard disk/clone/disk image file of your old system to the additional virtual machine drive e.g. with Carbon Copy Cloner:
  15. VMWare Fusion clone to Second HD/additional virtual machine drive
  16. In the virtual machine go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Startup Disk > set it to "Second HD"
  17. VMWare Fusion set startup disk preferences
  18. Quit System Preferences
  19. Shutdown the virtual machine (Apple menu > Shut Down) - not Restart
  20. Go to Virtual Machine menu > Settings > Hard Disk (SATA) > make sure 'File name:' is "Virtual Disk.vmdk" > click "Advanced options" at the bottom > click "Remove Hard Disk"
  21. VMWare Fusion remove original virtual disk
  22. You will be given the choice to keep or Trash the virtual disk file which is your choice (it might be worth keeping the original virtual disk if you have plenty of space as it is a clean Mac OS X / OS X / macOS virtual machine)
  23. VMWare Fusion trash original virtual disk
  24. Go to Virtual Machine menu > Settings > General
  25. Change the virtual machine's 'Name' to something that is relevant to your original Mac system e.g. "Old OS X 10.8 Mac Pro"
  26. Change the virtual machine's 'OS' to match that was on your physical Mac/hard disk/clone/disk image file
  27. VMWare Fusion match virtual machine os
  28. Go through and configure your required virtual machine custom settings:
  29. VMWare Fusion Choose your required custom settings
  30. Start up/boot the virtual machine
  31. To avoid confusion with your host Mac, rename the virtual machine's hard disk from "Second HD" to something that is different to your current hard disk e.g. "Virtual OS X 10.8 HD"
  32. Go to Virtual Machine menu > Install VMWare Tools
  33. Install VMWare Tools, following the on screen instructions and restart the virtual machine when complete (you may get a message about the installer certificate being out of date and this appears to stop the Tools installing so things like drag and drop are not supported [with this guest OS])
  34. If you are running an unsupported version of Mac OS X / OS X / macOS make sure you check out our Securing Older Operating Systems article
  35. Q. What are the current, supported versions of macOS?
    A. macOS 10.14 (Mojave), 10.13 (High Sierra) and macOS 10.12 (Sierra) are supported by Apple.

VirtualBox

We have not tested this in VirtualBox but you should be able to do something similar to what we did in VMWare Fusion - we will update this article when we have more time to test this. Don't forget to donate to us (use the button in the bottom left corner of this web page).

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This article is © MacStrategy » a trading name of Burning Helix. Apple, the Apple logo, and Mac are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.


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All proceeds go directly to MacStrategy / Burning Helix Limited to help fund this web site.

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