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macOS VMs on Apple Silicon with UTM

macOS May 14, 2023

With the transition to Apple Silicon M1 and M2 chips, running macOS virtual machines has become a bit of a challenge. The good news is that there is a free and open source hypervisor that can help you overcome this challenge - UTM.

What is UTM?

UTM is a free and open source VM software. It is a lightweight, easy-to-use hypervisor that allows you to create, manage, and run virtual machines.

Developed by the same team that created the popular iOS emulator iSH, UTM has quickly become one of the most popular options for running virtual machines on Apple Silicon machines.

UTM Website:
Source code:

How Does UTM Work?

When used in "Emulate" mode UTM works by emulating the hardware environment of a virtual machine. It creates a virtual machine that runs as a software application, which can then run a different operating system.

UTM is able to emulate a wide variety of hardware components, including processors, graphics cards, network adapters, and more. This means that you can create a virtual machine that closely resembles a physical machine, allowing you to run software that might not be compatible with your current operating system.

When used in "Virtualize" mode it utilises Apple's Virtualisation framework.

How to Use UTM to Run macOS Virtual Machines?

Download and Install UTM

Brew: brew install --cask utm
UTM Website:
App Store (£9.99):

Create a New Virtual Machine

Create a new virtual machine by selecting "Create a New Virual Machine" then choose "Virtualize"

Choose macOS as the Operating System

Choose "macOS 12+" as the operating system.

Click "Continue" on the "Import IPSW" page, UTM will automatically download the latest macOS installer for you.

Configure Virtual Machine Settings

Configure your virtual machine settings, including the amount of RAM and disk space allocated to the virtual machine.

The defaults are good, if you're not too sure.

Wait for it to download the macOS installer

The download for this is around 12GB so this make take a while depending on your internet speed.

Start the Virtual Machine

Start the virtual machine, wait for it to install and then complete the macOS setup process.

That's it, enjoy your macOS VM!

Running older macOS versions can be used to download IPSW files for older versions of macOS.

During my testing I wasn't able to run M1 images on a M2 Macbook, but all M2 images did work.