Running macOS Virtual Machines in the M1 era

This conversation probably isn’t going to go the way you expect or would like it to. But with more and more of us getting M1 Macs, I figured I might provide some helpful info.

I managed to get a Catalina 10.15.7 VM running in VMware Player 16, hosted on Windows 11 with an AMD Ryzen 5950x. It is possible if you’re desperate.

I will not be sharing instructions here because doing this violates Apple’s license, which means it would almost certainly be against Xojo’s rules. The other reason I’m not going to write up instructions is that I can say with confidence: don’t do this.

There are lots of guides out there. It took me cherry picking facts from about four different guides to get it figured out. I also needed to generate fake serial numbers, ROM identifiers, and “borrow” a MAC address. And it was strongly recommended not to use my actual Apple ID, in case Apple blacklists it.

So that’s my helpful advice: don’t do it. It’s neat, it’s technically possible, but don’t do it. It’s not worth the effort.

On a similar note, @Anthony_G_Cyphers spent some time trying to get UTM working to emulate macOS on an M1 machine. I haven’t tried it myself, but based on his experience, I won’t be. Don’t waste your time with it. Guides are limited and performance is much worse than you’d expect.

Keep those Intel Macs around folks. Maybe some day Parallels and/or VMware will add emulation to their products, but it’s not today, and I have my doubts they’d even bother since emulation isn’t their business.


Thanks for saving me the time to try. I am in my office most of the time, so will just continue to use an Intel mac for those. And when traveling, if access is needed will just have to VPN back to office if the need arises.

I had originally assumed that I could at least have a Big Sur VM, since there is an ARM version of it. Oh well, “Apple knows what is best for us.” :frowning:

I’m hoping that Microsoft will release a new version of Virtual PC for M1, so we can rock it like it’s 1997 again.

I honestly do not miss that. VirtualPC worked but it was so bad. And that’s why I don’t think we’ll be getting something similar. Not when future macOS versions will work, as will future Windows versions. Given time, we just won’t need to emulate x86, just like we don’t need to emulate PowerPC today. So what company is really going to invest in a product with a known lifespan of about five years, give or take?

Newer versions of the macOS, sure.
Newer versions of Windows, not so sure. I believe Intel and AMD are both going to fight hard to keep Windows using the x86 architecture, and if consumers keep buying x86 Windows, then ARM may never take off.

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Microsoft’s own hardware is ARM, so they have a reason to improve their software accordingly. They are doing it now, I have no reason to believe they won’t keep that going. I think Windows will live on as a four architecture platform for a while. Which also makes installers and building even more of a mess. I can’t wait to have to offer x86, x86-64, ARM, and ARM64 versions.

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