I need to install macOS on a VM. I don't want to download a macOS from torrent or hackintosh websites. Is there a way I can verify a macOS image's signature so I know it came from apple?

  • 1
    The installer applications have code signatures, which macOS has the tools to verify. – Alexander O'Mara Oct 24 '19 at 2:42
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    Download from App Store – Alfred Woo Oct 24 '19 at 6:44
  • @AlexanderO'Mara how easy it is to verify such images on macOS? I fond a way to download an image by running the network downloader in KVM. I just need to borrow a mac to quickly verify it. – Guerlando OCs Oct 24 '19 at 7:55
  • You verify by running it. It will self-check. – Tetsujin Oct 24 '19 at 8:30
  • @Tetsujin Technically that would only prove it has a valid code signature, not that it was signed by Apple. For that you need to check who the signature was issued to. – Alexander O'Mara Oct 24 '19 at 20:40

The only reliable (and legal) source of macOS is the Mac App Store.

There are python scripts to download from Apple as well. Apple code signs the installers, so you are taking on risk to re-implement or bypass those checks.

  • or support website? idk if the combo updates work for this usage. support.apple.com/downloads/macos – anki Oct 24 '19 at 10:45
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    @ankii, A Combo Update is not the full macOS Installer, it's just an update and requires having the OS defined under its System Requirements already installed to apply the Combo Update. – user3439894 Oct 24 '19 at 17:10

Apple distributes macOS as an installer app, so there is no such thing as a "macOS image". More specifically, you can certainly create an ISO image out of the installer app, but there is no official checksum to verify.

The installer app, which is itself a so-called bundle (a directory with a specific extension and structure) and not an executable, is only available from the Mac App Store or via Software Update (for example, this is the Mac App Store link for macOS 10.15 "Catalina", see this KB article for more information), which only run on a Mac.

Although this may seem a limitation, it is not: Apple explicitely states that macOS must run on Apple hardware, even when virtualized (see section 2.B.iii of the Software License Agreement for macOS Catalina. Similar restrictions apply to other versions of macOS).

So if you don't want to download macOS from a dubious source, you will need access to a supported Mac.


Apple has a support page on how to get valid installer boot media directly from them: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201372

El Capitan (version 10.11) was the last version to come as a DVD image for burning to an install disk, Apple has a support page on finding that file: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT206886

  • Why was this downvoted? The link is to an Apple support page where you can download an actual image of El Capitan. I'm in the process of downloading it now to test. Even though its older, i’d bet you could use the app store to download newer versions – Doug Masters Jun 20 '20 at 6:27

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