Cannot Install macOS Virtual Machine

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Guest OS Discussion' started by MarkC29, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. MarkC29

    MarkC29 Bit Poster

    I have spent 3 days trying to install a macOS virtual machine. I have macOS Sierra (with all patches) on my machine (the latest the hardware will run) and Parallels Desktop 13 (with all patches).
    I have spent hours reading the forums and reviewing the Parallels documentation. When I follow the instructions the result is always the same - no usable macOS virtual machine.
    Here is one example of what I have done. No matter what path I follow the result is always the same.
    1. Start Parallels Desktop
    2. From Parallels menu select New
    3. On popup window Skip Download and Install of Windows 10
    4. On popup window Scroll over to right an select Install macOS 10.12.6 Using Recovery Partition
    (incidentally, I don't want Parallels using the Recovery Partition for any reason but this is the default way that Parallels documentation says to perform this step)
    5. Press Continue
    6. Confirm Install from Recovery Partition and press Install
    7. Pop window changes to Creating and then a new popup window appears that seems to be doing a macOS install.
    8. Choose English from the language selection dialog and press right-arrow
    9. A macOS Utilities dialog appears. This is always the end point - it is not possible to proceed past this point. Also the pointer is now captured in the popup window (why that happens makes absolutely no sense, but Parallels has long done that nonsense)
    10. None of the macOS utilities make any sense. I have already completed a macOS install. But here is what I am presented with:
    Restore from Time Machine backup - why would I want to do that?
    Reinstall macOS - I thought I just installed macOS, why would I want to do that?
    Get help online - Why would I want to do this, my problem is with Parallels not macOS
    Disk Utility - Why would I want to use that utility?
    So there is nowhere to go except to go to the macOS Utilities menu at the top of the popup window and select Quit macOS Utilities
    11. Now I get a dialog that says Are You Sure You Want To Quit macOS Utilities? The only choices (which make absolutely no sense) are:
    Choose Startup Disk

    If you choose Cancel you go right back to macOS Utilities
    If you choose Restart you end up right back at the same place in macOS Utilities
    If you choose Choose Startup Disk you get an empty dialog titled: Choose Startup Disk

    12. If I Quit macOS 10.12.6 and restart Parallels Desktop you end right back at the same place.
    13. If you follow a different install path after starting Parallels Desktop you end up right back at the same place.

    There does not appear to be any way to install and use macOS from Parallels Desktop. If there is a way to do that please elaborate.
  2. Neilwhit

    Neilwhit Bit Poster

    I just got through adding a new macOS virtual machine in Parallels 14 on my iMac. The purpose is to allow me to run older software on the VM within Sierra while I then can upgrade my main HD to High Sierra.

    I likewise had a heck of a time trying to figure out how to get this done and had to attempt it several times (several hours!) before I figured it out.

    1) You need to create a complete macOS install flash/thumbdrive USB drive with the desired OS, in my case Sierra. Instructions are readily available online.

    2) When you Create a new VM, don't get suckered in by the macOS Recovery option. The interface is just not very clear. Simply select the Install Other OS and click the Next/Continue button. Assuming you have the macOS Install USB drive mounted, Parallels should now find that install app. When you select it, Parallels needs to create a Disk Image from the install USB, then it creates a VM hard drive that it will use to install the OS.

    3) Be sure to watch out for the Customize button before you start creating the new VM. It will show up at one of the steps near the bottom. You need to be sure to increase the size of the HD1 if you plan to restore from a Time Machine backup. If you just want the macOS installed, don't need to do that.

    The trick is that Parallels needs the macOS install app locally and not the normal Apple method of having a small interface app local, but the install coming through the internet. That does not seem to work. Thus you need the thumb drive with the full macOS installer on it and DON'T use the Recovery option in the initial screen for the selected OS.

    After that, it's more or less just like a normal startup/install of macOS. And beyond what I have above, I can't really speak to any other possible variations. All I know is what is above, so hope it helps other people struggling to get this done.
  3. MarkC29

    MarkC29 Bit Poster

    Thank you for your insight into this challenge. I also spent hours trying to complete an install of MacOS onto a VM but I was never successful. Your insight is very helpful, and no doubt helps many people.
    Thank you for taking the time to let the rest of us know how to get past this extremely frustrating problem. You would think Parallels would at least provide enough info to let somebody be successful, but not this time.
  4. P.R

    P.R Bit Poster


    Thanks so much for your very helpful suggestion. I am at a screen creating the macOS VM file, and it currently displays Install OS X with a blue progress bar at the bottom all the way over to the right. How long does this step normally take - its been like this now for near half an hour with no change on the screen. I seem to remember installing a fresh copy of El Capitan on a blank hard drive took more than an hour. Its disquieting that there is no apparent change on this screen for such a long time. I presume that once the process of installing and creating the VM file finishes a change will take place on the screen. Thanks again for your extremely helpful insight. Randy
  5. P.R

    P.R Bit Poster

    Neilehit, your thoughtful experience has lead me to the ultimate answer with my problem! Some observations of missteps along the way:

    1. I was NOT able to use the El Capitan Installer file on a thumb drive. As my previous reply indicated, the Parallels process of trying to create a new guest VM hung for over 3 hours and just failed.

    2. Initially I was not able to find my El Capitan Installed File in the App Store. Reason was that I was ion my NEW 2018 Mac mini, which will not let me see old 32 bit operating systems even in "Purchased". I had to go back to my old mini (2011) running on El Capitan and re-access the store to see and download the El Capitan Installer File.

    3. I had to move the freshly downloaded El Capitan Installer File to my external hard drive. Then Parallels was able too see it and present it to me as a choice during the create new guest OS process. When I selected the file itself (and NOT the thumb drive) and pressed continue, Parallels then presented me with a dialogue that from the Installer File it would create a new disk image file. It gave me an option what to name this image and where to put it.

    4. Then the process, using the newly created image file, began running the El Capitan Installer normally. The progress bar reflected time remaining and eventually the process completed.

    5. I the had to do a standard setup just as if I put a new copy of El Capitan on a hard drive. When all the setup was finished (including User Account) and the process closed, a new .pvm file with El Capitan installed was created. Once I moved that .pvm file into my Parallels default directory location, everything worked perfectly! I now have a VM of El Capitan that runs in Mojave :)

    Cheeers! Randy

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