I've got a physical installation of Mac OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) happily running on my MacBook Pro. I want to move this install (not install a fresh copy of OS X and moving my data, move the extant OS) into a VirtualBox instance so that I can upgrade to Mavericks, but still keep backward-compatibility with several old apps that require Rosetta to run.

Is this possible to achieve? If so, how would I go about it?

EDIT: To be clear here, I do not want to install a fresh copy of OS X into the VM, I want to move my current copy with its various customizations (installation of Homebrew, Shellshock patches, upgraded version of system Python, etc). Effectively cloning my drive into the VM, if possible.


Of course it is. Install a legal copy of Mac OS onto VirtualBox, you can find here excellent instructions to do so. Make sure that the disk you are allocating to the VM is at least as large as the occupied part of your disk.

Then install Guest Additions on the VM. This is a perfect time to make a full backup of your system, just in case anything goes wrong.

Now you can share all of your host disk with the VM. At this point you are free to copy all files from the shared folder (your host disk) to the VM's disk.

Umount the shared folder. Now save the VM image as an OVA file (under export). Copy the OVA file to an external support, like a large enough USB stick or an HDD. Install the new OS on you pc, install VirtualBox, import the OVA file into the new VirtualBox. That's it.

  • Hmm. It's good advice, but it's not quite what I was looking for. I'm trying to transfer my current install of OS X (not other files, OS X itself) with all the personalizations I've made to it over time. – SoItBegins Jun 19 '15 at 10:07
  • @SoItBegins But that is exactly what I am suggesting. If you overwrite all files of the VM, including system files, not just your own personal files, with the files you have on your host, this is exactly what you are going to get. – MariusMatutiae Jun 19 '15 at 10:12
  • So if I copied my /usr/bin folder to overwrite the VM's /usr/bin, as an example. – SoItBegins Jun 19 '15 at 10:26
  • That's right. It would replace the original, unmodified files with your own, modified versions. – MariusMatutiae Jun 19 '15 at 10:33

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