Run a Virtual Mac on Your PC

January 6, 2011, By Christian Cawley

For anyone requiring access to Mac OS X and Windows 7, the traditional solution has been to buy two computers. I know several people with an Apple desktop and a Windows notebook, or vice versa, and this arrangement allows the owners to engage in use (and sometimes technical support) of both operating systems and become equally familiar with them.

In real terms, both OS’s have their benefits; this is how they have both become so popular.

While modern Intel-powered Macs can be dual booted to run Mac OS X and Windows, it is a bit trickier performing a similar trick on a Windows PC or laptop. Then again, you might not want to – why go to the trouble of dual booting when you can create a virtual Apple Mac on your Windows desktop?

Run Mac OSX in a virtual machine in Windows 7

Virtualization with VMware Player

Using a virtual machine solution you can create a computer running in a window within your Windows operating system. You might choose a Linux OS or another Windows version; with a dual- or quad-core processor, suitable RAM and plenty of hard disk space any number of virtual machines can be setup and used.

There are easy ways of doing this and hard ways of doing it – running a virtual Ubuntu 10.10 is nice and easy as VMware is familiar with the operating system and has various presets programmed in to allow you to easily use it as your guest OS. Again, the same is true for mo0st Windows versions and other popular Linux distros.

You’ll notice so far I haven’t returned to Mac OS X. Typically for the popular operating system – one that requires its hardware to be registered for you to successfully use it – doesn’t make it easy for you to install it as a virtual PC.

For the best results, you will need a machine with a multi-core Intel processor, although it will work on AMD systems. However there is a much easier way than creating the virtual machine and installing it manually.

Running Mac OS X with VMware Player

Before we proceed, be aware of the legal situation. As things stand, it is not legal to run Mac OS X on any hardware that doesn’t have an Apple badge. Additionally, if you are proceeding with this exercise, you should purchase your own copy of OS X (around $50) in order to do the right thing and use the software as legally as possible.

We wouldn’t tell you to find an Apple badge and attach it to your computer, just as we wouldn’t point out that a virtual machine can have any badge you want it to.

However, you can avoid the trouble of installing Mac OS X on a virtual machine (and it can be tricky) by taking advantage of VMware images that are already in circulation. These can be found via torrent sites and are around 7GB in size.

These files will come zipped up, so once extracted you should be able to identify the .VMX file – this is the one that will allow you to run the downloaded image as a guest operating system.

Do this by opening VMware (Start > All Programs > VMware > VMware Workstation) and then File > Open to browse for the VMX file. Use the virtual CD/DVD drive to mount the Darwin.iso (or similar) which is needed to boot from; once you have done this a couple of times the operating system should launch.

You will likely find considerable notes on the exact process required included on the specific download you select. Once complete, however, you will have the pleasure of being able to enjoy Mac OS X within an application window on your PC or in full screen mode. Note that not all applications will run successfully under Mac OS X; for instance iTunes has difficulty running in this environment, although most software should run reasonably well.

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