How to Install VirtualBox on an Apple Silicon Mac


VirtualBox now supports ARM-based Apple silicon processors. So, if you have an M1 or M2-powered Mac, follow this guide to set up VirtualBox.

For years, VirtualBox was most Mac users’ go-to choice for virtually running Windows, Linux, and other operating systems on their devices.

However, following the transition from Intel to Apple silicon, it did become a little tricky since VirtualBox did not run natively on M1 and M2 chips for a while. People had to rely on Rosetta 2, which was not great for optimal virtualization performance.

But, thanks to the impressive team behind VirtualBox, things have changed. Here, we’ll teach you how to install VirtualBox on an Apple silicon Mac.

Does VirtualBox Support M1 and M2 Macs?

Yes, the developer preview version of VirtualBox natively supports all Apple silicon-based Macs.

The native support for Apple’s ARM-based chips means you can use Oracle VirtualBox to leverage the best speed and performance on your M1 and M2-powered Macs.

How to Install VirtualBox on an M1 or M2 Mac

You can use the following steps to download and install the native version of VirtualBox on an M1 or M2 MacBook, iMac, or Mac mini.

VirtualBox support for ARM-based Apple silicon Macs is in its early development phase, meaning you should expect a few bugs and crashes while using it.

First, head over to the VirtualBox Downloads page and click on Developer preview for macOS/Arm64 (M1/M2) hosts to download the Apple silicon version of the virtualization app. Your Mac will download a DMG file that should show up in the Downloads folder.

download VirtualBox for Mac

Now, you open the DMG file and follow the on-screen instructions to proceed with the installation. Double-click the VirtualBox.pkg to launch the installer and install the program in the Applications folder.

double click on install package

Your Mac may ask you to provide the password during this process. The VirtualBox installer may also offer to move the DMG file to the Trash once the installation is complete.

Voila! You have successfully installed VirtualBox on your Apple silicon Mac. You can use Spotlight search, Launchpad, or the Applications folder to launch VirtualBox.

Set Up Your First VM on an M1 or M2 Mac With VirtualBox

We will quickly discuss setting up your first virtual machine in VirtualBox for Mac. In this case, we have created a Linux VM running Ubuntu.

Before we begin, you have to download the ISO file for the operating system you want to install. If you also plan to start with Ubuntu, you can download it from the Ubuntu downloads page. Next, follow these steps:

  1. To create the first virtual machine, open VirtualBox and click the New button.
    select new VM on virtualbox

  2. Next, provide a name for the VM, select the storage location, and open the ISO file. If you are using a popular OS like Ubuntu, VirtualBox will automatically detect it and fill in the other details.
    select VM name and OS

  3. You also have the option to Skip Unattended Installation. For example, if you would like to make custom changes to the OS, you can enable the option to skip unattended installation. You can now click Next to proceed.
    provide username and details

  4. Once you provide login details for the OS user account, you can select the VM’s resources like RAM and processors. Choose according to the tasks you plan to do with the OS, but a good idea would be to allocate half of your Mac’s RAM and CPU core count to the VM.
    select RAM and processors for VM

  5. Next, you need to select the storage options for the VM. Refer to the basic requirements of the OS and then consider the space you need on top of that to choose wisely. In the case of Ubuntu, a minimum virtual storage space of 25GB is recommended.
    create virtual hard disk for vm

  6. Now, VirtualBox will show a summary of your entire configuration. So, use this opportunity to double-check your selection before creating the VM. Once you’re ready, you can click on Finish.
    VM summary by VirtualBox

  7. VirtualBox may take several minutes to complete the OS installation. Once done, you can find the new VM on the VirtualBox sidebar menu. You can now select the VM and click the Start button to begin using the VM.
    run the new VM

Congratulations! You have created the first VM using VirtualBox on Mac.

Run VMs With VirtualBox for M1 and M2 Macs

In the world of virtualization software and virtual machines, Oracle VirtualBox is only a starting point. However, this free tool can help you get started and learn the basics well.

But make sure you explore other options like VMWare or Parallels Desktop, depending on what you want from these virtual machines.


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