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I wanted to install macOS High Sierra on a virtual machine on my Mac so that I could debug some issues. The host machine is running macOS and the guest VM would be running macOS as well.
VirtualBox does not support APFS right now and neither does Parallels Lite. This is a problem since APFS is the default for macOS High Sierra.
Although it should be possible to install macOS High Sierra in VirtualBox on an HFS+ disk, I could not get it to work with VirtualBox. However, I was able to get it working with Parallels Desktop Lite (after a couple workarounds).
I am assuming you are comfortable working with the command line, and already have a High Sierra installer available to you and downloaded on your Mac.
Run each of these commands one after another. If something goes wrong, you can reboot to clear things out and try again.
hdiutil create \
-o /tmp/HighSierra.cdr \
-size 7316m \
-layout SPUD \
hdiutil attach \
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia \
--volume /Volumes/install_build \
--applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ Sierra.app \
hdiutil detach \
"/Volumes/Install macOS High Sierra"
hdiutil convert \
-format UDTO \
mv /tmp/HighSierra.iso.cdr ~/Desktop/HighSierra.iso
Install the Parallels Lite App from the App Store. Follow the wizard to create a new virtual machine. Choose to “Install Windows or another OS from a DVD or image file”.
Click “Locate Manually” to manually
You may see a warning saying “Unable to detect operating system”. That is ok.
Click “Continue” and select “macOS” as the operating system.
The virtual machine should then boot to the installation iso.
Terminal from the
Format the virtual machine hard drive as
diskutil eraseDisk HFS+J MacHD disk0
Reboot the VM and it should boot to the installation iso again. Rebooting may be overkill, but I do it to ensure that the install iso is properly detecting the disk and partition layouts after the erase we just performed.
Terminal from the
We will use a
special installer command
startosinstall, and manually run the installer
from the iso rather than using the GUI.
The only flags needed are
--converttoapfs NO to
prevent converting the disk to APFS, and
--volume /Volumes/MacHD to specify our target
/Volumes/Image\ Volume/Install\ macOS\ High\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/startosinstall \
--converttoapfs NO \