Install macOS on VMware

NOTICE: This article was written in Apr. 2022, and some links / methods might be outdated.


All relevant preparing works are done on Arch Linux.

Step 1: Fetch macOS Installer Package


Running and select the wanted macOS version:


The installer will be fetched at its publicrelease folder:

macOS Installer

The only necessary file here is InstallAssistant.pkg.

Step 2: Extract the Installer

Some extra tools should be installed:

By running xar -xf InstallAssistant.pkg, a large dmg file SharedSupport.dmg will be extracted.

darling-dmg supports mounting dmg images, the usage is shown below

mkdir /tmp/sharedsupport
darling-dmg SharedSupport.dmg /tmp/sharedsupport

then the contents of SharedSupport.dmg should be available at /tmp/sharedsupport:

Contents of SharedSupport.dmg

Step 3: Get macOS Recovery Image

There is a zip archive in com_apple_MobileAsset_MacSoftwareUpdate. Use your preferred tools to browse it and you will find another dmg image called BaseSystem.dmg inside it.

Contents of the ZIP Archive

Use your preferred tools to extract it. This is the recovery image of macOS. (some stuff like Windows PE / Live CD of Linux distros)

Step 4: Convert DMG to VMDK

BaseSystem.dmg cannot be directly used by VMware or ESXi.

qemu-img is a useful utility to convert disk images between several formats (e.g. vdi, vmdk, qcow2).

By running

qemu-img convert -O vmdk -o compat6 BaseSystem.dmg BaseSystem.vmdk

a VMware-compatible disk will be generated.

The disk can used directly by VMware Workstation (but not ESXi).

Step 5: (ESXi Only) Convert Disks to Flat Models

In VMware ESXi, virtual disks are using flat models. So the disk converted by qemu-img is not compatible with ESXi.

You should first upload BaseSystem.vmdk in Step 4 to your ESXi host (via scp / Web UI).

Log in ESXi via ssh, switch to your previous upload directory and run

vmkfstools -i BaseSystem.vmdk Recovery.vmdk

Now, an ESXi-compatible disk Recovery.vmdk is generated.

Step 6: VMware Unlocking

Due to designated restrictions, you still cannot run macOS virtual machines on VMware. However, these restrictions are removable by unlocking.

Unlockers for different products

See their READMEs for details.

Step 7: Start up Virtual Machine and Install macOS

Create a virtual machine with proper OS type, new virtual disks (70GiB+ recommended). Then add BaseSystem.vmdk / Recovery.vmdk as an extra disk of new machine.

Boot up and you will see Apple logo. If nothing goes wrong, you will see the Recovery system.

Erase your by Disk Utility and you can go with the installation. Cheers!