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How to Install macOS Catalina on VMware on Windows? (Full Guide)

Updated on Friday, June 28, 2024

iBoysoft author Jenny Zeng

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Jenny Zeng
Professional tech editor

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How to install macOS Catalina on VMware on Windows

macOS Catalina is the sixteenth major macOS release and a turning point with multiple significant changes.

It marked the end of iTunes, which has split into Music, Podcasts, and TV. It's also the first macOS version to switch to 64-bit applications, making 32-bit software obsolete. Apart from that, it introduced several security enhancements too, such as Activation Lock or Find My.

If you want to run macOS Catalina on your Windows PC, you need to first install it on a virtual machine like VMware. The post will guide you to install macOS Catalina on VMware on Windows step-by-step.

 Note: Make sure your PC has at least 8GB of RAM, 4 or more cores of CPU and 80GB of free space for macOS Catalina to run smoothly.

How to install macOS Catalina on VMware on Windows PC:

  • Step 1: Download macOS Catalina ISO for VMware
  • Step 2: Download and install VMware for macOS Catalina
  • Step 3: Download and install Unlocker for VMware
  • Step 4: Create a macOS Catalina virtual machine
  • Step 5: Edit the macOS Catalina.vmx file
  • Step 6: Format virtual hard drive for macOS Catalina
  • Step 7: Install macOS Catalina on VMware
  • Step 8: Install VMware tools on macOS Catalina
 

Step 1: Download macOS Catalina ISO for VMware

To install macOS Catalina on VMware, you'll need the macOS Catalina ISO file. This is a disk image that contains all the necessary files to install macOS Catalina.

If you have a compatible Mac, you can create the macOS Catalina ISO file yourself with the macOS Catalina full installer. The steps are the same as making a macOS Sonoma ISO file. Otherwise, you can directly download the macOS Catalina ISO file on your Windows PC by clicking the link below.

Download macOS Catalina ISO file for VMware

Step 2: Download and install VMware for macOS Catalina

The next step is to download VMware Workstation. Previously, you had two choices: either the free-for-personal-use VMware Workstation Player or the paid VMware Workstation Pro.

The good news for current users is that they've made the more advanced VMware Workstation Pro free for personal use in May 2024. Download it from the link below and install it on your PC.

Download VMware Workstation Pro

 Note: If asked, select the options "Install Windows Hypervisor Platform (WHP) automatically," "Enhanced Keyboard Driver" and "Add VMware workstation console tools into the system path" during the installation.

Step 3: Download and install Unlocker for VMware

The final tool you'll need to download is the auto-unblocker for bypassing the limitations that block VMware from operating on non-Apple hardware. Here's how to do it:

  1. Open this github page and download the ZIP file of the latest unblocker.
    Download unblocker
  2. Right-click on the ZIP file and extract all its files.
  3. Right-click on win-install and choose "Run as administrator."
    Install unblocker on PC
  4. Click Yes.
  5. Once the unblocker is installed, it will automatically close.

Step 4: Create a macOS Catalina virtual machine

With all the necessary files ready, you can now go ahead and create the macOS Catalina virtual machine. To do this:

  1. Open VMware Workstation, click "Create a New Virtual Machine" and hit Next.
    Create a new virtual machine for macOS Catalina
  2. Click on Next again.
  3. Select "I will install the operating system later" and click Next.
    Select I will install the operating system later
  4. Choose "Apple Mac OS X" as the guest operating system.
  5. Select "macOS 10.15" as the version and click Next.
    Set up guest operating system
  6. Name your virtual machine, customize its location, and then click Next.
  7. Select "Store virtual disk as a single file."
  8. Customize the maximum disk size to 60GB and above and click Next.
    Specify disk capacity for the macOS Catalina virtual machine
  9. Click Finish.
  10. In the main interface, click "Edit virtual machine settings."Edit virtual machine settings
  11. In the Memory tab, specify 50% of your system's memory.
    Specify memory for the macOS Cataina virtual machine
  12. Tap on Next again and click Finish.
  13. Select the Processors tab and set up 50 - 80% of your system's processor.
    Custmoize processors for virtual machine
  14. Move on to the "CD/DVD (SATA)" tab, select "Use ISO image file," and add the macOS Catalina ISO file.
    Add macOS Catalina ISO
  15. In "USB Controller," choose USB 3.0 for USB compatibility.
  16. Click OK.
  17. Close VMware.

Step 5: Edit the macOS Catalina.vmx file

After the macOS Catalina virtual machine is created, you need to edit its vmx file to make it compatible with VMware. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the directory where the virtual machine is stored.
  2. Right-click on the file "macOS Catalina.vmx," and open it with Notepad.
  3. Scroll down to the end of the file and type smc.version = "0".
    Edit the macOS Catalina VMX file
  4. Save the file and close the window.

Step 6: Format virtual hard drive for macOS Catalina

  1. Launch VMware.
  2. Select "macOS Catalina" and click "Power on this virtual machine."
  3. Wait until the system boots up.
  4. Choose your preferred language and hit Continue.
  5. In macOS Utilities, click Disk Utility > Continue.
  6. Select VMware Virtual SATA Hard Drive Media and click Erase.
  7. Give it a name, choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) as the format, and keep the GUID Partition Map.
    Format the virtual machine for macOS Catalina
  8. Click Erase again.
  9. Click Done and exit Disk Utility.

Step 7: Install macOS Catalina on VMware

Now that the virtual machine is formatted, it's time to finally install macOS Catalina on VMware. 

  1. In macOS Utilities, select "Install macOS" > Continue.
    Install macOS Catalina on VMware
  2. Follow the instructions on the screen to install macOS Catalina on the virtual hard disk.
    Choose to install macOS Catalina on the virtual disk
  3. Set up your macOS Catalina virtual machine.
    Set up macOS Catalina

Step 8: Install VMware tools on macOS Catalina

Congratulations to all of you who have made it to this step. You've successfully installed macOS Catalina on your Windows PC. The last step is to install VMware tools to prevent graphic issues, and access extra features like full-screen and communications between the host operating system and macOS Catalina.

Take the following steps:

  1. Click the Apple logo at the top-left corner of your screen and select "Shut Down" to turn off the virtual machine.
  2. Once it's off, click "Edit virtual machine settings."
  3. Select "CD/DVD (SATA)" and click "Use physical drive" > OK.
  4. Click "Power on this virtual machine."
  5. Log in to your account.
  6. In the menu bar, click VM > Install VMware Tools.
    Install VMware Tools
  7. Open "Install VMware Tools."
  8. Follow the instructions to install the tools.
  9. On the message "System Extension Blocked," click "Open Security Preferences."
  10. Tap the yellow lock and enter your password to unlock the preference.
    Allow VMware from loading
  11. Click Allow to unblock software from VMware.Inc.
  12. Click Restart.

These are all the steps needed to install macOS Catalina on VMware on Windows. If you find this post helpful, share it!