Install macOS 10.15 catalina in VMware on Windows
At the World Wide Developers Conference 2019 or WWDC19 for short which held recently, Apple has announced their successor of macOS Mojave which is macOS 10.15 Catalina. The new version brings a ton of new features, improved security and performance, bug fixes and other improvements over its predecessor macOS Mojave. Some of the new features include Apple Music which will reportedly replace the current iTunes app, Sidecar which will allow you to use your iPad as an extended display for your mac. With Sidecar, you can interact with apps such as FinalCut Pro directly from your tablet. Speaking of security, macOS Catalina now has a dedicated system volume which keeps system files in Read-only mode. It prevents accidental deletion of system files.
The version that we are going to install on VMware is a beta version and not a stable version. So it may contain bugs and may be unstable in some systems.
Downloading the required files.
Before we begin our installation process, first download the required files so that you don’t have to wait for downloading files in the middle of the process.
- Download macOS Catalina VMDK
- Download VMware, in this tutorial I am going to use VMware player as it is free for personal use but you can also use VMware workstation if you need those extra features of VMware workstation
- Download VMware unlocker.
- Download VMware tools
First and foremost we need to install VMware. To do so open the directory in which you have downloaded the setup, Double click on the setup to open it.
Now after the setup is running follow the instructions displayed on the screen to successfully install it.
Unlocking VMware for macOS.
VMware for windows by default doesn’t provide you with the option to install macOS on it since macOS is not meant to be installed non-Apple hardware. So with the help of a tool called Unlocker aka patcher we will patch VMware to enable us to install macOS Catalina on it.
1. If you haven’t downloaded the Unlocker then download it from the link present above, if you have then head over to the next step.
2. Extract the downloaded RAR file using WinRAR, then open the extracted folder.
3. Right click on the file named ‘win-install’ and click on ‘run as administrator’ and wait for the process to finish.
Note: Before executing the Unlocker script please make sure that VMware is not running in background else the script will fail to execute.
Creating the macOS Catalina virtual machine.
Now we will create a virtual machine so that it creates the necessary files required and later on we will connect our download macOS Catalina vmdk to this VM.
1. After finish patching, open the VMware app and click on ‘Create a new virtual machine’.
2. Now, select the last option ‘I will install the operating system later’ and click next.
3. Under guest operating system select ‘Apple Mac OS X’ and from the dropdown menu select ‘macOS 10.14’. Since macOS 10.15 Catalina is not released yet the option to select macOS 10.15 is unavailable, hopefully after releasing the tool developer will add the option. Currently, the macOS 10.14 option works fine.
4. Name the virtual machine as you like and leave the location as it is and click next.
5. Here also leave the maximum disk size as default, it doesn’t matter since we will use our prebuilt vmdk file. Click next and then finally finish.
Configuring the Virtual machine.
In this step, we will configure and allocate the required hardware to the virtual machine so that the virtual machine and the host operating system( windows 10) runs stable.
1. Right click on the virtual machine and click settings.
2. In the memory tab use the slider to increase the allocated memory to 4GB.
3. Now click the CPU tab and increase the core count to half of your machine’s CPU core with hyperthreading. If your intel CPU has 4 core but with hyperthreading, it acts like 8 core, so you will select 4 cores.
4. After selecting the processor count, select Hard disk from the list and click remove.
5. Now click the add button and from the hardware type list select ‘Hard disk’ and click next.
6. Under Virtual disk, type select SATA and click next.
7. Now, select the second option ‘Use an existing disk’ and click next, then click on browse and select the VMDK file that you downloaded in the first step. Before selecting make sure that you first extract the archive.
8. After adding the new hard disk now, switch to the options tab and change the ‘Guest operating system’ to ‘Microsoft Windows’ and also select the version as “Windows 10 x64”.
Due to some issues with macOS Catalina which prevents the installer from booting in VMware unless you change the operating system to Windows 10 x64. The issue is discussed here.
Installing macOS Catalina in VMware.
After doing all the above steps we are now ready to install macOS Catalina in VMware.
Right-click the Virtual machine and click ‘Power On’. While the virtual machine is starting you might face a boot failed error, that error is likely due to we changed the guest OS. However, it not a thing to worry about. Wait till the boot manager appears and select the first option ‘Boot normally’.
Now the installer will boot and the installation will run automatically. The installation will take about 10-20 minutes depending on your hardware. Till then sit back and relax!
Note: The size of the virtual disk after installation will be around 21GB so make sure that the disk in which the vmdk has enough space left.
First boot of macOS Catalina on VMware.
After installation is finished the virtual machine will automatically try to boot into macOS Catalina but it will show an error that attempting startup from hard disk is unsuccessful. Well, that is because while configuring the VM we changed the guest operating system to Windows 10 in order to boot into the macOS Catalina installer. Now to solve this problem we have to set the guest OS back to macOS 10.14.
1. Before changing the settings you have to first shut down the VM. Then right click and select settings, Now head on to the Options tab and under Guest operating system select ‘Apple Mac OS X’ and from version select macOS 10.14. Now boot into the macOS Catalina VM.
2. At first, select your country and click continue
3. In the languages tab check if the settings are correct and click continue.
4. Continue from the Data privacy screen. In the transfer screen select ‘Don’t transfer any information now’ and proceed.
5. Now, if you have an existing Apple ID then login else click setup later, you can create it later once you complete the setup screen.
6. Accept the terms and condition, then create a new user account by entering the username and password.
7. Click continue in next 3 tabs. Select the UI mode you prefer. I personally like the dark mode, it’s very nice.
8. The setup is now finished. Proceed to the next section to install the VMware tools.
Installing VMware tools.
One thing you might be noticing in the VM is that the display size is too small. Even the settings app shows only one resolution. It is due to VMware tools is not installed yet. Once you install it you will be able to select your native display resolution from settings.
To install VMware tools click Player in the top left corner, then hover over removable devices > CD/DVD SATA and click settings.
We will use the VMware tools we downloaded earlier, make sure that you have unzipped it first. Click on browse and select the ISO file and click OK.
The ISO will be automatically mounted. Double click on the VMware tools installer and follow the instructions displayed.
Once it is installed, you will see a prompt saying that VMware tools is blocked from opening. To resolve this, simply open the system preference then security and privacy and click allow. Now restart the virtual machine.
While setting up a macOS Catalina virtual machine using VMware was easy, it not suitable for heavy workloads like photo or video editing. Since GPU acceleration in VMware is not at all supported. The lag you experience while opening-closing apps or viewing videos is due to this. If you are installing macOS for real performance you should make your PC a Hackintosh instead. See our dual booting macOS with windows guide to boot macOS alongside windows.