In this article, we will examine how to run and configure macOS Big Sur 11 on a new virtual machine using VMware Workstation 16 Pro on the Windows 10 64 Bit operating system.
How to Set Up macOS Big Sur 11 on a Virtual Machine in Windows 10 using VMware 16 Pro
Apple released macOS Big Sur, the most up-to-date operating system after macOS Catalina for Macintosh computers, on November 12, 2020, after announcing it at WWDC on June 22, 2020.
Big Sur, named after a coastal region of California, offers the most advanced desktop experience to date. Developed for the first time to support ARM-based processors, version 11 is the new system that has completely changed its main version compared to previous versions.
Apple has improved the rounded corners icons and windows in the user interface for Big Sur, giving it a more transparent and smoother look. It also supports GIF or video content in order to increase user interaction in the messages application.
With the release of Big Sur, Apple now fully supports ARM processors, with silicon chips developed for its own operating system instead of the x86/64 instruction set. With the M1 processors, it has produced recently, it has achieved longer charging times and system performance compared to Intel and AMD‘s processors.
Users with iMac, MacBook, or MacBook Pro computers can download the Big Sur 11 update from the Apple Store and easily update their system. If you do not know how to update using the Apple Store, you can take a look at this article.
Normally you cannot install an Apple operating system on VMware Workstation because the program has no support for Apple OS systems. However, you can enable this support and unlock macOS using VMware Unlocker.
You can also unlock Apple Mac OS X using Unlocker software on both Windows and vSphere ESXi.
How to Create a New Virtual Machine for macOS Big Sur
After installing VMware on your Windows 10 host computer, in order to install a guest macOS operating system, you need to use the Unlocker tool as we mentioned and set the VM’s settings correctly.
After opening VMware Workstation 16 Pro, open the wizard by clicking on the Create a Virtual Machine option you see on the main screen. After opening the New Virtual Machine Wizard, select Custom (Advanced) to better configure the settings of the virtual machine and click Next.
In the Choose the Virtual Machine Hardware Compatibility window, select the latest version of VMware Pro installed on your computer. If you are trying to install an older system version and get an error, you can downgrade the Workstation version from the compatibility section.
In the Guest Operating System Installation window, you can select the type of media you will use for system installation. To install with your host’s physical DVD drive, you can choose your installation media from the Installer Disc section or add the ISO image you downloaded to your computer from the Installer Disc Image section to the virtual machine.
When you add the ISO file to the virtual machine at this stage, the type and settings of the macOS virtual machine will be automatically determined by the image you add. This process may not be suitable for installation, so select I will install the operating system later and continue configuring the settings manually.
In the Select a Guest Operating System window, you can select the operating systems of Microsoft Windows, Linux, ESX, or other platforms, but you will see that there is no Apple Mac OS X here.
When you try to install macOS on the virtual machine, you will see that there is no support for Apple Mac OS X systems. So you need to enable macOS support with Unlocker.
In this window, click the Cancel button to close the virtual machine creation wizard and then close your VMware Workstation program completely.
Download VMware Unlocker to your computer, and then extract the zip file to the folder and run the win-install.cmd file in the folder as an administrator.
After running the Unlocker tool, some files of the VMware program will be automatically organized and backed up. In addition, VMware Tools (Darwin.iso) will start to download, allowing you to use the Apple operating system more efficiently on your host.
After unlocking macOS, you can see that this time Apple Mac OS X support is enabled in the guest operating system selection window.
After selecting the Apple Mac OS X platform, select macOS 11.1 in the Version section and click Next.
Type the name of the system you will install on the virtual machine and if you want to change the installation location, you can specify the location on an external disk via the Browse button.
If the type of your host disk is SSD or NVMe, you can continue without changing the installation location for the performance of the guest machine.
In the Processor Configuration window, you can increase the number of virtual processor cores in accordance with the hardware performance of your host computer. Since increasing the number of processors may cause the virtual system to not work stable, configure it as 1 processor.
Likewise, configure a suitable memory value for the macOS VM depending on the RAM capacity of your host computer. If your system has 16GB of RAM, you can allocate 8GB of memory size to the VM.
In Network Type settings, use NAT to connect the virtual computer to your local network. If you don’t need an Internet connection in the VM, you can choose Host-Only or choose not to use any network adapters.
Proceed with LSI Logic, which is recommended and selected by default in the I/O Controller types window.
In the Disk Types window, you can select the virtual PC’s disk as IDE, SCSI, SATA, or NVMe, but you need to find out if the system you are going to install has support.
Since macOS Big Sur is an up-to-date operating system and supports new technologies, you can significantly increase the performance of the virtual machine by choosing the NVMe disk type.
In the Select a Disk window, you can create a new virtual HDD for the virtual computer, add an existing disk file, or mount your physical disk directly to the VM.
For a clean macOS installation, select Create a new virtual disk and click Next.
In the Specify Disk Capacity window, change the size of the virtual disk for Big Sur to 100 GB and choose to backup the virtual disk to be created as a single file on your host.
If you are using an old mechanical disk type on your computer, you can allocate 100 GB of disk space for the VM from your host disk with the Allocate all disk space now option. If you continue without selecting this option, if the virtual machine needs disk space, the required space will be automatically allocated from your host disk.
If you want to back up the virtual disk file to a location other than the virtual machine configuration files, you can select the relevant location in this window. When you install more than one virtual machine on your computer, do not change the location of the disk file, as virtual disk files in different locations may cause confusion.
When the virtual computer is ready to be created, you will be greeted with a summary window like the one below. After checking all the settings you have made for the VM in the summary window, click the Customize Hardware button.
Enable all virtualization features of the processor device in the hardware settings of your macOS virtual system.
Virtualize Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI
Virtualize CPU Performance Counters
Virtualize IOMMU (IO Memory Management Unit)
To add the macOS Big Sur ISO file to the guest system you created, select Use ISO Image File on the CD/DVD (SATA) device in the hardware settings window and click Browse.
After adding the macOS image file to the guest machine, close the hardware settings.
Close the summary window of the guest virtual PC and continue.
Before you can run the Big Sur virtual machine and start the installation, you need to add codes to its VMX file. Right-click on the VM you created from the Library section of Workstation Pro, and then click Open VM Directory.
Open the macOS Big Sur.vmx file with Notepad and save the file after adding the following codes.
After adding the necessary codes to the Big Sur.vmx file and saving the file, run the virtual computer.
How to Install macOS Big Sur
After creating a new virtual machine for macOS with VMware up to this stage, you can now start the system setup.
After running the macOS virtual computer, wait for the system to boot when you see the Apple logo.
Choose which system display language you will use the macOS operating system with and continue.
When the Recovery screen appears, open Disk Utility as you need to format the virtual disk before installation.
Select VMware Virtual NVMe Disk Media on Disk Utility and click the Erase button. To format the selected disk, type any disk name in the Name field in the window that opens, and then select the APFS format and click the Erase button again and wait for the process to complete.
Scheme: GUID Partition Map
After formatting the virtual disk, select Install macOS Big Sur and click Continue to start installing the system.
Click Continue again to start the macOS installation.
Accept the license agreement to continue installing the macOS software.
Select the virtual disk you formatted and click Continue.
Wait while the setup wizard copies the system files to the macOSBigSur disk. The progress bar says approximately how long it will take, but this may take less time depending on the performance of your host computer.
After the system files are copied, your guest virtual system will restart and continue to operate on the Apple logo.
After the necessary files are copied, when the Select Your Country or Region screen opens, select the country you live in and click Continue.
On the Written and Spoken Languages screen, you can change the system language, keyboard layout, and system robot voice you want to use in your system.
You can arrange your system according to your personal needs in the Accessibility settings. For example, you can use the VoiceOver screen reader to speak text in files, web pages, or appearing on the screen.
On the Data & Privacy screen, Apple clearly states that it uses minimum personal information of users and respects human rights. The collection of your personal data is only aimed at improving Apple services and enhancing the user experience.
You can transfer your files and documents from another Mac or Windows computer to the guest machine. You can transfer data later to get a system experience from scratch.
If you want to use iCloud, App Store, and other Apple services on the Sign In with Your Apple ID screen, you can log in. If you do not have an account, you can also create a new Apple account on this screen.
After reading the macOS software license agreement on the Terms and Conditions screen, accept it.
Create a new computer account for your virtual system and select your profile picture.
You can allow and disallow data usage to enhance the personalized user experience for Apple maps and other services. This decision is entirely personal, but you can share your data and location information with Apple to help further improve macOS.
Likewise, by sharing the crash and usage data you encounter in the applications you use with the application developers, you can help them develop their own applications more for users.
Screen Time allows parents to have more control of the system over their children of all ages. It also allows reviewing the time spent on apps and web pages. To configure these settings in detail later, click Set Up Later and continue.
You can get more fun and convenient system experience by using Siri on your Big Sur system. It makes it easy to search for content both in your apps and on the Internet.
You can select the theme you want to use in your Big Sur system on the Choose Your Look screen. Apple has offered users three different theme skins: Light, Dark, and Auto.
If you choose to use the Auto theme, your system’s view will automatically turn light or dark depending on the time zone of the country you live in.
You can find out your macOS version through About This Mac after you click on the Apple logo after making the system settings.
How to Install VMware Tools
After installing macOS Big Sur with VMware, you need to install VM Tools in order to use your guest virtual system in full-screen resolution and more performance.
For macOS guest machines, you do not need to download the VM Tools ISO file from anywhere. Because when you use the Unlocker tool, the VM Tools (Darwin.iso) file will be downloaded to your computer.
In macOS virtual PC, go to VM / Removable Devices / CD/DVD (SATA) in the tool menu and click Settings.
After changing the status of the CD/DVD device to Connected, add the Darwin.iso file in the Unlocker/Tools folder to the VM.
After the ISO image is mounted on the VM, double-click Install VMware Tools and start the installation.
In the VMware Tools Installer window, click Continue.
VMware Tools will use 7.6 MB of disk space on your virtual disk. Do not change the installation location and click the Install button directly for standard installation.
When the installation starts, type your user account password to authorize the wizard and click the Install Software button.
This time, when you encounter the System Extension Blocked warning, click Open Security Preferences.
In order to edit the Security & Privacy preferences, after clicking the system lock, type your user account password and click Unlock.
Click the Allow button next to the warning “System software from developer “VMware, Inc.” was blocked from loading”.
Click Not Now on the window that states that you need to restart your system for the new system components to take effect.
After the VM Tools installation on macOS is successfully completed, restart your system.
Check that your guest system is available in full-screen resolution on VMware and also that the graphics memory is 128 MB instead of 3 MB.
When you try to transfer a file by dragging and dropping a file from the Windows 10 host machine to the macOS guest machine, you will get the vmware-tools-daemon error. Click Open System Preferences to resolve this error.
To make changes to the security and privacy settings, unlock the system again and enable the vmware-tools-daemon component in the Accessibility section.
After allowing the VMware-tools-daemon component, when you try to transfer a file from your host to the VM again, you can see that the operation will be successful as in the image below.
How to Check Internet Connection
After making all the settings on your Guest macOS computer, it is useful to test the Internet connection. Otherwise, you will not be able to install new updates on your system or install the applications you want to use.
To run Terminal, press Windows Key + Space together, type terminal in the search bar that opens, and run it.
To ping on macOS, execute the command ping -c 2 www.google.com in the terminal. If you see the TTL=128 value in the ping output, it means you can access the Internet.
When the ping is successful, open the Safari web browser on your Mac virtual computer and test your connection by visiting the Google homepage.
How to Use USB Flash Memory in VM
You can use your USB flash drives in a virtual machine you have set up in VMware Workstation 16 Pro software. As soon as the host inserts a USB disk into your computer, the new device detected by the program window opens, you can easily plug your device into the VM or the host.
Insert a USB flash disk into your Windows 10 host computer and when the New USB Device Detected window opens, select the Connect to a virtual machine option, select your virtual machine and click OK.
You cannot use an NTFS formatted flash drive on macOS. So you need to format your USB stick as ExFAT. After opening Disk Utility, right-click on your flash disk from the External section and click Erase.
In the disk formatting window, type any name in the Name field and select ExFAT from the Format field and click the Erase button again.
After formatting your flash disk as ExFAT, you can now transfer your data to it.
Disconnect your flash disk attached to the macOS VM and connect it to the host this time. The purpose of this is to test that the data transferred to the flash drive on macOS can be viewed through Windows.
When you view the contents of your flash memory through My Computer on your Windows 10 host, you can see the folder named Backup created in the VM.