I've got 10.6 running on a 2006 MacBook Pro. I want to run some older software that was meant for 10.4 and earlier, so I figured I'd install Tiger in VMware Fusion, but it isn't working. Any idea how I'd go about it?

What I've tried:
When creating a new VM, there's no option for Tiger. It only offers 10.5 server and 10.6 server. I tried using the 10.5 server option with a Tiger disk image, but with no luck: gives me this error:

Mac OS X is not supported with software virtualization.
To run Mac OS X you need a host on which VMware Fusion supports hardware virtualization.

Any thoughts?

5 Answers 5


This article references VMware Workstation 6 as being able to run OS X with some hacks, but it's slow. But more importantly, that article runs down what I thought was the only known solution to running OS X in a VM: VirtualBox. So you aren't going to be able to do this with Fusion, but you can do it with VirtualBox.

Also: Apple does allow virtualization of OS X Server (check the date on that article - circa 2007). It honestly wouldn't stand much of a chance in the big, corporate IT world if it couldn't be legally virtualized these days.

  • I think VirtualBox requires hardware virtualization support for OS X as well. Oct 22, 2010 at 20:16
  • 1
    +1 for mentioning that Mac OS X Server can be virtualized.
    – Josh
    Nov 5, 2010 at 13:44

The official Tiger (10.4) OS simply does not run in a virtualized environment. To get it to run you have to hack around the incompatibilities, which has been attempted with varying levels of (claim to) success, but it seems pretty sketchy. You're probably better off either dual-booting your MBP or finding an old used computer to dedicate to Tiger apps. I have a G5 still kicking around for just that purpose.


Leopard (10.5) and Snow Leopard (10.6) server are virtualizable and are fully supported by VMware Fusion. Leopard and Snow Leopard standard versions ("Client" version) do not support being virtualized. VMware Fusion 4.1 accidentally left out the code that prevents you from creating and running non-server Leopard and Snow Leopard VMs; version 4.1.1 was quickly released to restore the prevention code. I have not heard great tales of success or failure running the non-server VMs under Fusion 4.1, but you can give it a try.

All versions of Lion (10.7) support virtualization. The Lion retail license includes permission to create 2 VMs in addition to the one real machine so long as you run them on Apple hardware. Specifically, section 2B(iii) grants a license:

(iii) to install, use and run up to two (2) additional copies or instances of the Apple Software within virtual operating system environments on each Mac Computer you own or control that is already running the Apple Software.

Note that apparently Apple doesn't take this too seriously, as the official Lion licenses as posted at http://www.apple.com/legal/sla/ still require you to be running "Snow Leopard".


Have you tried installing 10.6 as a VM? Just wondering, because it sounds like the error message you're receiving is accurate. You're running a 2006 MacBook Pro and as far as I know, the processors in those machines don't support hardware virtualization. So VMware is just telling you that it doesn't support OS X in a VM on your machine.

However, what would work would be installing Tiger on a separate partition. Use disk utility to create a new volume and boot from the Tiger install disk, then install to that new volume and you can boot into it as needed.


You are not allowed to run Mac OS in a VM (check the license). :)

  • Edited to fix. >.> Oct 21, 2010 at 21:07
  • Cancel that, sentinel decided to revert it, I guess. Oct 21, 2010 at 22:46
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    Ah, can I comment with a reputation of 1? I don't know right know. Whatever: installing it in a VM is breaking the law so the only answer is: it's not allowed, therefor it is blocked, therefor it is not possible to install Tiger in VMWare Fusion. This answers Fishtoasters question one ("Any idea how I'd go about it?") and question two ("Any thoughts?"), doesn't it? Oct 22, 2010 at 14:59
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    No, it's breaking the license agreement. There is no law in the US or any other country that I'm aware of that says it is illegal to install Mac OS X in a Virtual Machine. Saying it is "breaking the law" is absolutely ludicrous. As for answering his question one: it IS possible to install OS X in VMWare, the only thing preventing him is his older hardware. It's not blocked, just unsupported. You certainly did answer the "Any thoughts" question, apparently with "not many". Oct 22, 2010 at 15:24
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    Correction: You're not allowed to virtualize Mac OS X client. You can run Mac OS X server in a virtual machine, see Ian's answer.
    – Josh
    Nov 5, 2010 at 13:44

OS X Tiger can be installed in VMWare Fusion by creating a FreeBSD virtual machine. I am yet to find a way to install the FreeBSD version of VMWare Tools but its something I am working on. For the moment you can do basic stuff like surfing the web.

So its a case of creating a FreeBSD virtual machine and adjusting the settings prior to installing Tiger.

  • 3
    Can you add some more details on how to accomplish a Tiger installation with the approach you have in mind? I don't understand how you get from the FreeBSD VM to a Tiger installation?
    – nohillside
    Jul 12, 2014 at 9:17

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