macOS Catalina in VMWare Workstation Player

Status: WIP macOS: Catalina elementary OS: 5.1 Hera VMWare Workstation Player: 15.5.1 unlocker: 3.0.3

How to setup macOS Catalina in VMWare Player.

PLEASE NOTE: At the time of writing, the only way to make VMWare Player behave correctly was to start it with root permissions. Otherwise it freezed during startup - showing only a Waiting for connection... message.

IMPORTANT: The instructions below do not work. For some reason macOS Catalina hangs at boot after initial installation.


Build macOS Catalina iso

You only need to do this once. Skip if you already have a macOS Catalina iso image.

You need access to a Mac to succesfully build a macOS Catalina iso image file.

Login to your Mac, open the App Store and search for “Catalina”. Download and install “macOS Catalina”. After successfull installation you are ready to build the iso.

Open the terminal and execute the following commands:

# PLEASE NOTE: You need at least 18 GB of free disk
# space to sucessfully execute the commands below!

# Create empty Volume which we'll write Catalina to
hdiutil create -o /tmp/macOS-Catalina.cdr -size 8500m -layout SPUD -fs HFS+J

# Mount the created Volume
hdiutil attach /tmp/macOS-Catalina.cdr.dmg -noverify -nobrowse -mountpoint /Volumes/install_build

# let the createinstallmedia executable of Catalina write to the mounted volume
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ --volume /Volumes/install_build

# Unmount the auto mounted Install macOS Catalina Volume
hdiutil detach /Volumes/Install\ macOS\ Catalina

# Convert the *.dmg to iso file
hdiutil convert /tmp/macOS-Catalina.cdr.dmg -format UDTO -o ~/Downloads/macOS-Catalina.iso

# Remove the .cdr suffix of the iso file
mv ~/Downloads/macOS-Catalina.iso.cdr ~/Downloads/macOS-Catalina.iso

# Delete the no longer needed *.dmg
rm /tmp/macOS-Catalina.cdr.dmg

Unlock macOS in VMWare Workstation Player

In order to be able to successfully launch macOS in VMWare Player, we need to unlock the macOS features. To do so install the paolo-projects/unlocker:

  1. Make sure VMWare Workstation Player is closed
  2. Download the latest ZIP Release from GitHub
  3. Unpack the ZIP file
  4. Edit the file and make sure, is called with python3 (at the bottom of the file): python3
  5. Execute with: chmod +x && sudo ./
  6. If the Installation was sucessfull, you are now able to create new virtual machines with macOS as Guest OS.

Create macOS virtual machine

  1. Start the VMWare Workstation Player and select “New Virtual Machine”
  2. Select “I will install the operating system later”
  3. Select Apple Mac OS X with version “macOS 10.15”
  4. Create a virtual disk with 120 GB capacity and make sure you enable “Store virtual disk as single file”
  5. Fine tune the virtual machine after creation by click “Edit Virtual Machine”:
    • Assign at least 2 CPUs
    • Assign at least 4 GB of RAM
    • Add a “USB 2.0” controller if you plan to connect an iOS hardware device
  6. Make sure you close VMWare Workstation Player

Install macOS Catalina

  1. Start the VMWare Workstation Player as root: sudo vmplayer
  2. Make sure you inserted the macOS Catalina iso image file in the CD/DVD device of the virtual machine (Edit virtual machine settings)
  3. Start the virtual machine
  4. Once the install media booted, select your language
  5. Then, start the Hard Drive Utility and create a new partition:
    • Select the VMWare Virtual SATA Hard Drive Media
    • Hit Delete and enter:
      • Name: Macintosh HD
      • Format: Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
      • Schema: GUID-Partitionstable
      • To proceed, hit Delete again
    • After your finished, click the red window close icon in the upper left corner
  6. Next, start the macOS installation. This should be self explanatory.
    • The installation needs about 30min to complete