Install macOS virtual machine on a Mac with Apple silicon

Apple’s move to its proprietary processors based on ARM, referred to by the name Apple silicon changed its Mac experience. But, some users might have to access macOS due to various reasons, including using older applications or testing compatibility with software. In these instances the install process of the macOS virtual machine on a Mac with Apple silicon that is equipped with Apple silicon is a great solution. This guide will take you through the procedure step-by-step, ensuring that you are able to set up an macOS virtual machine in the Apple silicon Mac with ease.

Understanding Virtualization on Apple Silicon

Before we begin how to install it, it’s important to comprehend the idea that virtualization works on Apple silicon. Virtualization lets you run an operating system guest like macOS in an environment created in your main operating system (macOS on your Apple silicon Mac). This lets you use macOS applications as well as perform tasks that aren’t feasible in your normal environment.

Prerequisites for Setting Up a macOS Virtual Machine

To begin, ensure that you meet the following requirements:

  • A Mac equipped with Apple Silicon: This guide is designed to Macs that have Apple M1 or later processors.
  • Affordable Hardware Resources: Make sure that your Mac has sufficient hardware resources, such as RAM, CPU cores, and storage to support the virtual machine efficiently.
  • Virtualization Software: You’ll need a virtualization program that is compatible with Apple silicon, like Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion (we’ll go over this later in this section).
  • macOS Virtual Machine Image: Download an macOS Virtual Machine image that you can install in your virtualization program. This image could include an ISO file from the macOS version, or an image that is pre-configured for virtual disks.

Choosing the Right Virtualization Software

For smooth operation it is essential to have right software for virtualization. In my latest update, which was in the month of September there are a variety of choices:

  • Parallels Desktop: Parallels Desktop for Mac is an extremely well-known virtualization program that works with Apple silicon. It has a simple user interface that is seamless with macOS. You can buy and download it directly from Parallels’ website. Parallels website.
  • VMware Fusion: VMware Fusion is a second solid option for running virtual machines with Apple silicon Macs.It comes with effective virtualization features, and is like minded with a big choice of running device alternatives.
  • VirtualBox: VirtualBox is a completely free open-source virtualization software which is also compatible with Apple silicon, but it might require more technical knowledge in order to setup in comparison to commercial options.

Select the virtualization program that is most suitable for your needs and budget. In this tutorial we will use Parallels Desktop as an example.

Preparing the macOS Virtual Machine Image

Before installing the macOS virtual machine you’ll require the installation images. Here’s how you can create one:

  • Download macOS Installer : In case you do not have an macOS set up ISO then you can download it through the Mac App store.Find the macOS version you’d like to download (e.g., macOS Big Sur) and then click ‘Download.’
  • Create an bootable USB Drive: Once the installer has been downloaded, you can make bootable USB drive with a tool such as ‘Install Disk Creator.’This will let you download and install macOS to your virtual device.
  • Download a Virtual Machine Disk Image: Certain websites provide already-configured virtual machine disks for macOS. These are a great way to save time and energy, but be careful and ensure that the authenticity of the source If you opt for this option.

Once you have you have got your macOS installation image in place and installed, you can proceed with the installation of macOS onto your computer.

Installation of macOS Virtual Machine on a Mac using Apple Silicon

Let’s now go through the steps needed to install macOS to your virtual computer:

  • open Parallels Desktop: Open Parallels desktop on your Mac.
  • Create an entirely new Virtual Machine: Click on File > New” to create a brand new virtual machine.
  • Choose Installation Method: Choose ‘Install Windows or a different OS on the DVD or image file and then select Continue.’
  • Select Installation Image Choose ‘Locate manually and navigate through your macOS install file (ISO or USB drive) that you have prepared previously. Click ‘Continue.’
  • Configure Virtual Machine Settings: Configure the settings of your virtual machine which include the allocation of RAM, CPU cores, as well as storage. Moreover, you can configure alternatives for community settings as well as hardware acceleration.

Configuring macOS Virtual Machine Settings

As soon as your virtual machine  has been set up it’s important  to set the settings to maximise efficiency and user-friendliness. Here are some important settings to take into consideration:

  • Screen and Graphics: Set the resolution of the screen and graphics settings according to your preferences and capabilities of your monitor.
  • Integration: Turn on features such as seamless mode and coherence mode which let you run macOS applications in conjunction with other OSes.
  • Shared Folders: Create shared folders for easy transfer of documents between virtual machines and host Mac.
  • Networking: Check what networking settings you have in place to ensure that your virtual system has access to the net and is able to communicate with the various devices in your community.
  • ESnapshot: Create a snapshot of the state of your virtual machine. This will allow you to go back to the previous state in case anything occurs during the testing.

Tips for Optimal Performance

To ensure that your macOS virtual machine is running smooth on the Apple silicon Mac take a look at the following tips to improve performance:

  • Allocate Adequate resources: Ensure that your virtual machine is equipped with enough RAM, CPU cores and storage capacity to run macOS as well as any other applications you are planning to use.
  • Keep macOS up-to-date: Make sure you regularly update the virtual machine of macOS to take advantage of security and bug fixes.
  • Install Guest Additions: If your virtualization software provides guest add-ons or tools installed, then install these.
  • Limit Background Apps: Stop unneeded background apps on both your virtual machine and host to free up resources on your system.

It is important to. Backup Regularly Make copies of backups and snapshots the state of your virtual machine to protect your configurations and data.


In the end it is clear that installing an macOS virtual computer on an Apple silicon Mac is a viable solution to a variety of uses. It doesn’t matter if you require specific macOS applications or test compatibility with software, or just explore macOS without disrupting your existing environment, virtualization offers the flexibility you require. Following the steps described in this article and focusing on the suggestions for optimal performance, you are able to install and utilize the macOS virtual machine with your Apple silicon Mac. Be aware that technology changes and it is essential to be aware of updates and modifications to virtualization options as well as compatible to Apple silicon. Always check the most current information and resources offered by the software you’ve chosen to ensure that you have the best experience.


Is a MacBook Air able to run Parallels Desktop well?

Recently I set up Parallels on a MacBook Air for one of my clients and the performance was quite satisfactory. Storage could potentially be an issue though given its entry-level model only has 128GB drive storage, however providing you have at least 256GB and 4GB RAM it should meet most usage needs and be quite satisfactory in general; but as always it depends on what constitutes success to each individual!

Can you run Windows 11 on a Mac M1?

Therefore you can run Windows 11 on M1 Macs using Parallels; however it’s important to remember that they will only support running the ARM version of Windows 11, since Intel Macs allow for standard x86 versions to run under Parallels.

Why can’t a macOS be installed in a Windows computer?

MacOS may only be compatible with Apple, but that does not preclude you from installing it on a Windows PC. While installing macOS might require extra time and work, its license prohibits its usage in any other capacity than for Apple products only.

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