How To VMware

How to Install macOS 10.15 Catalina on VMware on Windows PC

Written by John

At the recent World Wide Developers Conference 2019 or WWDC19, Apple Inc. announced the release of a new macOS 10.15 Catalina operating system that is a significant improvement on the more recent one. It is full of plenty of new features, including some related to both security and performance. Another update included with the new operating system allows the user to send any application over to an external display which can be range from iPads to other various connected monitors. This is one of the more talked about features that we can’t wait to try out. And how to install macOS Catalina on VMware on your Windows PC?

What is a macOS Virtual Machine Image?

A virtual machine is something that doesn’t physically exist but instead uses your computers physical resources to act virtually through VMWare Workstation. In this instance, we’re talking about a macOS virtual machine that is running on a Mac OS system. You can also run Mac OS through a virtual machine if you have a Windows Desktop. VMware Workstation Player is like any other application you’d run on your desktop. First, you need to create what is called a macOS Catalina VMware image which in essence is the same type of file macOS users would use to install the Operating System initially. In addition to this, you’ll also need to download VMWare Player itself as an additional Patch Tools file.

Install macOS 10.15 Catalina on VMware on Windows PC

Step 1: Download macOS Catalina Final from App Store

Download macOS 10.15 Catalina

You will need a Mac system to download the macOS installer. You can use a Virtual Mac if you do not have one. The good news is that the macOS Catalina Final is available as a free download from the App Store. Once you have downloaded the Catalina Final installer, you can complete the other steps on your Windows PC. 

Download macOS Catalina Final from Mac App Store

Open download link and click on "Get" button, once the download is complete, the installer will automatically launch. You can find the installer file in the Application Folder.

Read more: How to Download macOS Installer in Virtual Machine

Step 2: Create macOS Catalina ISO File

If you already have the "macOS Catalina.App", make sure that you move it to the Application Folder. The next thing you need to do is convert Installer files to an ISO using the Terminal. To launch the Terminal go to "Applications" then "Utilities."

# Create a DMG Disk Image
hdiutil create -o /tmp/Catalina -size 8500m -volname Catalina -layout SPUD -fs HFS+J

# Mount it to your macOS
hdiutil attach /tmp/Catalina.dmg -noverify -mountpoint /Volumes/Catalina

# Create macOS Catalina Installer
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ --volume /Volumes/Catalina --nointeraction

# Unmount Catalina Disk
hdiutil detach /volumes/Install\ macOS\ Catalina

# Convert the dmg file to a iso file
hdiutil convert /tmp/Catalina.dmg -format UDTO -o ~/Desktop/Catalina.cdr

# Rename and Move to Desktop
mv ~/Desktop/Catalina.cdr ~/Desktop/Catalina.iso

Fix problem with "createinstallmedia" not found, folow this:
How to Download Full Size macOS Catalina Installer

Step 3: Install the VMware Player 15.1

If you click the link we’ve provided this is where you can download VMware Player for yourself for free, once downloaded go ahead and install VMware Player before moving on to the next step.
VMware Workstation Player 15.1 (free): Download

Install VMware Workstation 15 Player

Step 4: Install Patch Tool

Once you have installed VMware Player what we need to do next is to install the Patch Tool. What you’re going to want to do is right click on "win-install" and choose the option Run As Administrator and this will then install the patch tool for you.
New Patch Tool by Donk: Download

Install new Patch Tool for macOS 10.15

Step 5: Create a Virtual machine on VMware

If you have done Step 2 correctly you should fine that you have downloaded and install VMware Player. If that’s correct we’re now going to want to open up VMware Player and in the top left select the option that says "create a new virtual machine".

Once you have clicked "create a new virtual machine" you’ll then find that you have wizard in front of you that will run you through the process. When it asks you to select the Guest OS go ahead and select macOS and then click ‘Next’.

Guest OS and Version

After clicking next you’ll then be asked to name your virtual machine and where you’re wanting it to be stored. Select the “VMX folder” and then click next. For the storage space remain with 100 GB and also select store virtual disk as a single fine. After that click confirm and finish and you have set up your virtual machine.

VMX Folder Location and Catalina Disk Size

Step 6: Edit the Virtual Machine

Now we have created our virtual machine we are now going to want to edit it, go into setting and go onto the memory tab. For the RAM allocation set it at 50% of your machines RAM, so if your desktop has 8GB RAM allocate 4GB of this to the virtual machine.

Catalina Virtual RAM

Set the Processor to 80% of your CPU.

Catalina Virtual Processor

On the CD/DVD tab. Go ahead and click “Browse” button. We’re going to use browse through file explorer to the location where you stored the "Catalina.iso" file before and select that and click finish.

Open Catalina ISO File

Open USB Controller Tab. In USB compatibility, select USB 3.0. Then click "OK".

Enable USB 3.0

Step 7: Editing the VMX File

Open your “VMX Folder” in step 4. We referred to this before and that is the VMX File (VMware virtual machine configuration). This is configuration file essentially for the whole of your virtual machine. Right Click on VMX file, selecting "Open with" and then choose more apps, and from the list of choices select ‘Notepad’.

Open VMX Folder

Open VMX file with Notepad

This will open the VMX file in Notepad. At the bottom;

Add the code: smc.version = "0". Save the changes by clicking on “Ctrl+S”.

Add Command to VMX file

Step 8: Upgrade to new VMware Player 15.5.x

Go to VMware site, and download a new VMware Player 15.5 (free). Open ".exe" file and click on "Upgrade" button to install a new Player 15.5.

Install new VMware Player 15.5

Next steps, you need reinstall Patch Tool.

Install Patch Tool

Step 9: Install macOS Catalina on VMware

Turn on your macOS Catalina. When you see the macOS Utilities screen, go to "Disk Utility".

Open Disk Utility in Catalina

Select your VMware Virtual Disk and format it with Mac OS Extended or APFS.

Format Virtual Disk

Now, you can install macOS 10.15 Catalina on your virtual disk.

Install macOS Catalina on VMware Virtual Disk

Restart to complete your installation, it’s time to wait about 10 to 20 min.

Restart to complete the Installation

Once your installation has completed, turn off your Virtual machine, Open VMware Player setting, then click on CD/DVD tab and uncheck "Connect at power on" button.

Disconnect ISO image

Step 10: Play macOS 10.15 Catalina in VMware in Windows PC

Next up open up the VMware Workstation Player and select the option that says "Play Virtual Machine" and create a new account for your macOS Catalina.

Create a new account in macOS

Step 11: Install VMware Tool

Open VMware Workstation Player, click "Player", then select “Removable devices” then “CD/DVD” then  click “Setting” and open the “VM Tool.iso” file. Check the “connected” button and click “OK”.
VM Tool: Download

Install VM Tool in macOS Catalina

Next up we are going to want to install the VMware tools. This isn’t a quick process and before hand you will need to enable "System Extensions" which is easy to do, browse to and select "Open Security Preferences" and click "Allow". Click on the Restart button this will restart your virtual machine.

If your VMware tools turn out to not be working on your macOS Catalina, don’t panic, just go ahead and reinstall the VMWare tools. Once they successfully work enter full screen mode which will take about 3 minutes.

Done! macOS 10.15 Catalina on VMware on Windows PC

New System Preferences in Catalina VMware

With VMware, it is possible to run macOS Catalina on Windows PC. This is the best free virtualization software out there. With it, you can run a Mac on the same PC hosting the Windows operating system. This is the solution for people who cannot choose any among the two best operating systems! You can now have both Windows and macOS on one computer. You never have to choose one.

Hopefully now you have all of the knowledge you need including the installer file in order to be able to run macOS 10.15 Catalina through VMWare Workstation on your desktop regardless of whether it is Windows or Mac OS. You will never have to settle for a single operating system and in addition to this you also don’t have to go through the process of trying to locate an ISO installer image for your macOS system as this has already been developed and provided for you by me in order to make the whole process easier.

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June 3, 2020 7:10 pm

Catalina 10.15.5 Supplemental Update, 1.20 GB – no problem.

Pen USB 3 show warning:
”The device ‘Silicon Motion Flash Drive’ was unable to connect to its ideal host controller. An attempt will be made to connect this device to the best available host controller. This might result in undefined behavior for this device.”
However, it works…

May 30, 2020 10:28 am

Catalina 10.15.5 update – No problem.
Thank you.

May 12, 2020 7:21 pm

Some notes that others might find useful, to show what works for me. Base system for me is Ubuntu 20.04. I also have a setup on Windows 10. I am successfully running Catalina 15.4.. I use 8096MB dram in the VM, with 1 processor/2 cores specified (2 total) and no boxes checked in the Virtualization Engine section under Processors. I had some problems with VMware Player (keyboard/mouse seems to hang in the vm?) but using Workstation Pro seems to have made that go away. Don’t know why. … I don’t add the smc.version = 0 to the vmx. My vmx’s… Read more »

May 19, 2020 9:08 am
Reply to  johnny

Thanks for comment. smc.present = “TRUE” trick is also working well on ubuntu 18.04 host. In my case, I add usb controller(setting 2.0) to solve keyboard and mouse issue on vmware player vesion. My only question is how can I pass command(cmd) key to guest…

April 21, 2020 4:05 pm

Hi, after following all the steps, in “About this mac”, it shows “Graphics Display 3 MB”.
I came here after trying to set up mac on Virtualbox for 5 days. …
I did install the VMware Tools and followed all the steps.

April 17, 2020 8:21 am

Hi, I have installed successfully but is very slow (128mb vram).
I’ve installed vmtools but i can’t add smc line because if i do vm ware say’s vmx corrupted

April 17, 2020 8:27 am
Reply to  Carlo

solved smc problem, but is still very slow

April 17, 2020 8:29 am
Reply to  Carlo

Solved all but still 128 of vram. Thanks for this guide

April 19, 2020 8:56 am
Reply to  John

Thanks for reply. Yes and is still laggy (due to vram i think)

April 15, 2020 12:01 pm

Is it possible to run the virtual macOS on an HDD instead of a SSD?

April 13, 2020 6:18 am

All working Catalina 10.15.4
Followed the instructions.
When got to install VMwaretools – downloaded from the VMware site.
ps I gave up on the VirtualBox approach – losing the ability to snapshot in doing so.

April 10, 2020 3:06 pm

Hello, I have Nat network and VM Tool installed, but I don’t have internet connection.

April 9, 2020 11:06 am

Catalina 10.15.4 supplemental update 1.01GB – No problem.
Thank you.