How to Create a macOS Big Sur Virtual Machine with VMware Fusion
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This tutorial will show you how to create a macOS Big Sur virtual machine on your Mac with VMware Fusion so you can test software on a clean installation of without needing extra hardware.
Before we begin
Before we can create the virtual machine you will need to download VMware Fusion and install it on your Mac. You can get it from the following links.
VMware Fusion has an option to create a macOS virtual machine from the recovery partition. However, when I tried it with the professional version (12.1.2), it didn’t work. After the files got copied, the virtual machine became stuck in a reboot loop.
To get around this, you can create a bootable macOS ISO and install the operating system on the virtual machine manually using the steps in this tutorial.
Step 1: Create Bootable macOS ISO
Follow the steps in How to Create a Bootable macOS Big Sur ISO to create an ISO named macos-big-sur.iso on your Desktop.
Step 2: Create macOS Virtual Machine
Open VMware Fusion, click File then New. When the Select installation method window appears, click Create a custom virtual machine then click Continue.
Select Apple OS X > macOS 11.0 then click Continue.
Click Customize Settings.
Give the virtual machine a name and location to save the files to then click Save.
Now the Settings window will open. Attach the ISO created in Step 1 by clicking the CD/DVD ROM, checking Connect, then choosing the ISO image located on the Desktop.
After closing the Settings window, we are no ready to power on the virtual machine and install macOS Big Sur.
Step 3: Install macOS Big Sur on Virtual Machine
Power on the virtual machine and the macOS installer should load.
Select your Language then click the arrow to continue.
Click Install macOS Big Sur then click Continue.
Select Macintosh HD then click Continue.
Wait for the files to be copied to the Macintosh HD.
Depending on how fast your hardware is, you may notice the installation hang for a while on “Less than a minute remaining”. Go for a Coffee and let it run until it finishes.
The macOS virtual machine will reboot into the final setup wizard. Go through the steps, answering all the prompts.
After another reboot, log in to macOS using the credentials you specified in the setup wizard. We are now ready to install VMware Tools.
Step 4: Install VMware Tools on macOS
The last thing we need to do is install VMware Tools because it contains drivers that make the virtual machine run faster.
Click the Virtual Machine menu option then Install VMware Tools. A window will appear, click Install to connect the VMware Tools installer CD to the virtual machine.
Double click the Install VMware Tools installer.
Click Continue and follow the remaining steps of the install wizard.
Reboot the macOS virtual machine. You are now ready to start using it.
In this tutorial, we used VMware Fusion* to create a macOS Big Sur Virtual Machine. You can use it to test software on a clean installation without having to purchase extra hardware, but before you install software on the machine, you might want to create a snapshot so you can roll back any changes.