create a macOS Catalina VM with VMware Fusion

Here’s a quick note on how-to setup a macOS catalina VM on VMware Fusion 11. Credit for figuring out how-to do this goes to vmtn users Bogdam and intel008 as they are the ones who posted the resolution in the following thread at VMTN: macOS Catalina VMs do not run in VMware Fusion 11.1.0

This thread describes the problems you bump into if you try to upgrade a macOS Mojave VM to the new beta macOS Catalina. Basically if you run the upgrade then your VM will hang on reboot. If you then try to reboot it in verbose mode, so that you can see what happens, you’ll get the following screen.

macOS Catalina boot error

Yikes, that’s no good!

Then user bogdam reported he could get passed this by changing the virtual machine hardware to Windows 10. I tried that, but my VM no longer booted. As it turns out, the main trick is to start from a new VM, not upgrade an existing one. But as it involves a few more steps, not all of them obvious, I figured to write it out for you.

So first things first. If you want to get that 6.4GB “Install macOS 10.15” installer out of the VM then you cannot use the VMware Fusion shared folders feature. You can however drag & drop the installer bundle from your VM to your host OS, or copy it out using a network share via AFP (not samba).

Then the steps to install your new macOS Catalina VM are as follows.

First select File New from within VMware Fusion:

Install a new VM dialog

Now go back to Finder and drag your installer on top of the above dialog and drop it there.

You’ll get this screen:

New VM dialog with macOS Catalina installer dropped on it

Click Continue

Select the default macOS guest OS for it, for now

Select macOS 10.14 and continue

Basic install done, now customize and the detour begins

Do not click Finish here, instead click “Customize Settings”

This will then give you a save as dialog where you can change the name.

Save as dialog

Click save and now Fusion is going to create “installation media” for you on the disk. When it is done you will be presented with the VM in shut down state and the settings dialog.

Change settings on your new VM before initial boot

Click general and change the guest OS to Windows 10 x64 like so:

Set the guest OS to Windows 10 x64 (yes really, this helps)

Click “Change” to confirm, then show all and boot the VM.

The normal boot screen should appear (if it does not, then choose the macOS recovery image from the boot menu in the UEFI after it times out)

Once you are booting, you should get the familiar language selection:

language selection boot dialog

and you’ll be booted into the recovery menu:

macOS recovery menu, select Install

Click “Install macOS” and continue.

macOS 10.15 install can continue

You are now starting with the normal setup and the VM is getting installed.

On reboot however you’ll be getting this:

macOS Catalina – first reboot, now what’s that?

which is followed up by this:

macOS reboot on install – boot manager


Select “Boot normally” and press Enter.

This should then give you the normal boot progress screen:

macOS Catalina, the real install in progress

which takes a while to complete.

Go pet the cat, feed the fish or grab a coffee. You’ve got about 10 minutes, maybe more if your hardware is a bit older.

When the install is done, you’ll get this again:

macOS Catalina, another boot problem

Which eventually drops you back in the boot manager menu.

macOS Catalina Boot Manager – shut ‘r down

This time select “Shut down the system”

Now when you are ready to boot into your new VM, you first should change back the guest OS type to macOS. Go to Fusion menu “Virtual Machine” -> Settings -> General and make the change:

macOS guest OS – change it back to macOS

That’s it.

Now you can boot into your new macOS Catalina VM!

macOS Catalina – Welcome screen



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  1. I was also ultimately able to make this work, but it took several different attempts to get the initial boot working. Not sure why the last of about 5 tries worked and the others didn’t. But once I was able to get the initial install process working, everything worked fine after that point.

    • Jan-E on June 9, 2019 at 2:03 pm
    • Reply

    Did you run XCode 11 beta? There is a report that it is crashing:

  2. Hello Jan,

    No I haven’t had a chance for that yet. A problem is also mentioned at the original thread I based this post on. See:

    I hope that the VMware Fusion team has a chance to address it, but it might not be.

    • Jan-E on June 10, 2019 at 2:09 am
    • Reply

    Hello Wil, is another error as the one reported on stackoverflow:

    I am running into the stackoverflow version of the crash. The difference might be that my VM is running in VMware player, not in VMware Fusion. But I had to use the same Windows 10 x64 trick to get it installed.

    I sure hope the VMware devs find a fix or Apple fixes it in one of the coming beta’s. I’d like to play around before the release of macOS 10.15.

    • Charles on June 11, 2019 at 1:34 pm
    • Reply


    First let me thank you for this excellent guide. Unfortunately, for me, it’s failing 🙁

    I followed the instructions, and when powering up the vm I see a progression bar (the usual when installing macOS) but at about 2/3 I get the “Forbidden Sign”, and that’s it.

    Have tried it several times, with the same result. Any hints?

    Appreciate any reply


  3. Hi Charles, Thanks.

    There’s two things that come to my mind that might possibly cause this.
    1. A corrupted download of the installer. The solution would be to try and download again.
    2. If your installer is still mounted in Finder then you cannot run the installer. If you see the installer image connected in Finder then disconnect it before trying to run the installer again.


      • Charles on June 14, 2019 at 12:16 pm
      • Reply

      Hi Wil,

      Thanks for your suggestion. Not sure why it was “corrupted”, I redownloaded Catalina, and I was able to proceed.
      I did experience some weird issues, but at the end i managed to get a working installation.
      I need to do some more testing, when I finish I will share my experience and acquire knowledge about Catalina B1 here.


  4. Thanks Rob for your additional tip at That’s a great addition.
    Somehow the details can be slightly different. Also ran it last night and it was a bit different from what I saw this morning when writing the post.
    Not sure why that is, but if it works… Yes I agree it is great to have it as a VM so you can test things out a bit.

  1. […] some enterprising Fusion users (Bogdam and intel008) have figured out a workaround. I tried it, and while it did work for me, I had to change the instructions just a bit (read on for […]

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