Is it possible to install OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in VirtualBox on an iMac (i3) running OS X 10.6.8? I have the 10.6 install CD, DMG, and ISO, but can't get any of them to boot from VirtualBox.

  • Note: only the server version of Snow Leopard is allowed to be virtualized. Virtualizing the non-Server 10.6.x version violates the EULA.
    – Ian C.
    May 16, 2012 at 18:30
  • There are websites that host entire pre bundled virtual box images that completely save you from having to go through any kind of install/setup of the vm
    – Alexander
    Jun 21, 2012 at 3:32
  • @XAleXOwnZX if this is still true can you list some? Sep 13, 2014 at 20:13
  • Google "virtual box images"
    – Alexander
    Sep 13, 2014 at 23:02

3 Answers 3


These instructions are for VirtualBox on Windows and Linux but they work well on OS X as well. Taken from here -- abridged and modified for OS X guest OS:

  • Rip your original retail DVD of Snow Leopard in ISO format.
  • In VirtualBox, create a new virtual machine. Name it as you want, but select "Mac OS X" as the operating system, and "Mac OS X Server" as the version. Click next. Assign a good amount of RAM to the VM. I chose 1024 MB. Click next. Create a new virtual hard disk, I chose 20 GB of dynamically expanding storage. Click finish.
  • Open the settings for this new virtual machine, and in the Storage section, load the Snow Leopard ISO in the now empty CD/DVD device.
  • Now close VirtualBox (important!). Find the XML file that defines the virtual machine that you just created. This will be in ~/Library/VirtualBox/Machines/<name of the VM>/<name of the VM>.xml. Search this file in a text edit for the ExtraDataItem tags. After the last instance of ExtraDataItem tags add the following two, new, ExtraDataItem tags:

    <ExtraDataItem name="VBoxInternal2/EfiBootArgs" value=" "/>

    <ExtraDataItem name="VBoxInternal2/SmcDeviceKey" value="ourhardworkbythesewordsguardedpleasedontsteal(c)AppleComputerInc"/>

  • Save and close the file.

  • Open VirtualBox and power on the virtual machine. The installation will start after some minutes. Choose your language. Now open Disk Utility under Utilities menu. Select the virtual disk and click Erase. Close it and you can now install OSX. Before that, you can choose to customize the installation. It can be interesting to disable extra language translations or printer support (you save about 2 GB).

  • 1
    I'm not having any luck finding the .XML file. There is no Machines folder in ~/Library/VirtualBox/, nor can Finder find OSX.xml on the HDD. All I can find is /VirtualBox VMs/OSX/ in my home/user folder with .vbox, .vbox-prev, and .vhd
    – David
    May 16, 2012 at 19:13
  • 1
    I do see VirtualBox.xml in ~/Library/VirtualBox/ which does have ExtraDataItem stuff in it. Should I put it there?
    – David
    May 16, 2012 at 19:19
  • No luck on that either, just FYI.
    – David
    May 16, 2012 at 19:36
  • @David that's a bummer. I haven't tried this in a very long time so VirtualBox may have moved on. :(
    – Ian C.
    May 16, 2012 at 20:49
  • 1
    This works for me. The crucial bit is to add in the <ExtraDataItem> xml tag, right after <Machine> tag <VirtualBox ...> <Machine uuid="..." name="OS X Mavericks" ...> <ExtraData> <ExtraDataItem name="VBoxInternal2/EfiBootArgs" value=" "/> <ExtraDataItem name="VBoxInternal2/SmcDeviceKey" value="ourhardworkbythesewordsguardedpleasedontsteal(c)AppleComputerInc"/> </ExtraData> Newer versions of VirtualBox store your VM at /Users/<user>/VirtualBox VMs/<vm name>/<vm name>.vbox Tip: backup before making changes.
    – hanxue
    Oct 24, 2013 at 4:39

I have a SL 10.6.8 VBox running as we speak. It works perfectly, if a bit slowly. I'm about to abandon it for reasons totally unrelated to VirtualBox, but let's see if I can remember everything I did to get it running:

1) Like the other answer said, start with a rip of an original SL DVD. Mine was 10.6.0.

2) Also like the other answer, create the new VM, select Mac OS X Server (even if you're not using Server), assign >= 1GB of RAM (I'd give it at least 2GB if you can spare it), and mount your ripped DVD.

3) Don't start the machine.

4) Open up the machine settings and make sure all of the following are set:

System > Motherboard > Chipset: ICH9

System > Motherboard > Extended Features > Enable IO APIC (checked)

System > Motherboard > Extended Features > Enable EFI (checked)

System > Processor > Enable PAE/NX (checked)

System > Acceleration > Enable VT-x/AMD-V (checked)

System > Acceleration > Enable Nested Paging (checked)

Storage > Here make sure the hard disk is attached to a SATA Controller of type AHCI.

Network > Adapter 1 (or any other) > Adapter Type: Intel PRO/1000 T Server (82543GC)

Ports > Serial Ports > Enable Serial Port (uncheck this)

Ports > USB > Enable USB Controller (checked)

Ports > USB > Enable USB 2.0 (checked)

5) Start the machine and you should see the verbose boot mode (no gray Apple screen).

6) Proceed with OS X install.

This is exactly what I did and have running now. Updated 10.6.0 to 10.6.8 using standard Software Update. No patches, kexts or other hacks required.

My System: iMac 21.5" Late 2009 (3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, with 16GB RAM)

VirtualBox version: 4.1.12 r77245 with extensions installed.

I tried updating VirtualBox to 4.1.14, but that broke this VM somehow. Never quite figured out why, but that kept me from updating. Haven't tried 4.1.16 yet. If you can't it to install on the current version with these settings, maybe this is why?

Hope that helps!


I have an old macbook(white 13"). I could not update to Mavericks via AppStore because of my hardware(would not allow me to download). Currently on 10.6.8

I installed latest version of virtualbox(4.3.6). I found 10.8.5 installesd.iso on web(don't recall where). Pretty much all default settings(40GB static HD in .vdi format, 2GB RAM, 128MB video memory). In the settings, the default controller is SATA, which worked for me. I added the installesd.iso to the virtual DVD drive and started the machine. Machine starts and you will see verbage for a couple of minutes, then you will get to the options screen of the install disk. Select "disk utility". In "disk utility" select the virtual HDD you have for the machine(the one at the very top of the list). Select "partition"-> 1 partition-> mac os extended(journaled) and click "partition" to partition the disk. Exit disk utility, then select re-install osx. Select your virtual HDD and install.

Took fooooorrrrrrrreeeevvvvvveerrrrrrrrr! Said install of 20 min. Was more like 45 min. If screen goes white during install, it is just idle screen. Click back in machine window and it should show you current install status. Create acount as you would typically for mac and start using your mac.

I can now upgrade my VM to Mavericks(currently downloading) on the bare metal that i could not upgrade.

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