How to Run a Virtual macOS Sierra (VM) on macOS High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina

There are many reasons that we have to run a virtual machine on our host. To be able to remove iTunes DRM on macOS High Sierra or newer macOS like Mojave and Catalina, I decide to create a virtual macOS Sierra on the current Mac so as to remove the DRM protection in M4V files purchased from iTunes or TV.app. I did a lot of Google search and found myself little luck on this topic. There are guides on how to run previous Mac OS X like Yosemite and El Capitan as the guest virtual OS, but I think it is a little outdated and the previous macOS installer is no longer available on Mac, so I decided to do it myself! Here’s how I create a virtual macOS Sierra in the current macOS. 

Download macOS Sierra

Before we get started, you will be required to download macOS Sierra. Don’t install it and leave it in the Applications folder. We will use it in in VM program. However, we are no longer able to download Sierra on Mojave or Catalina. I have uploaded a copy to Google Drive. 

MD5: 1d5ac8c4bce02beb3b441eca744f893b
SHA-1: ba9625d3a28783e0713242438d530eb654d2a4b1

It is originally downloaded from App Store and I just made a ZIP file from it. So it is 100% safe. 

Please add the copy to your own Google Drive and Make a Copy to download:

Download from Google Drive

Parallels Desktop

VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop are NOT FREE but they do give us the most compatible way of running a VM Sierra on High Sierra host and Parallels Desktop offers a direct way to create, no codes needed, making it the easiest.

Create VM macOS Sierra

Parallels Desktop offers direct way to create a VM on your Mac. For the first time you start up the app, you are required to sign in and there comes the Installation Assistant of “Use Windows from BootCamp”. As we just don’t need it, we can click Skip to ignore. And below are the details on how to create and configure VM.  

Click “Install Windows or another OS from a DVD or image file” and click Continue. 

create new vm from iso

Parallels Desktop automatically scans the HDD and finds the satisfactory installation image. If not, you can click Choose Manually to locate yourself. 

installation image found

Importantly, if you are running the latest macOS Catalina, please allow Parallels Desktop control your Mac by clicking Open System Preferences and it will take you to Security & Privacy -> Privacy -> Accessibility. 

Parallels Desktop Accessibility Request

And, you need to unlock to make changes and check Parallels Desktop.app:

Check Parallels Desktop in Accessibility

Also, allow it to access the microphone and camera to make sure it is 100% working. 

Then, Parallels Desktop will create a bootable DMG file for you. Click Continue to confirm.

parallels create bootable image

Save the bootable dmg file to somewhere you want it to. You can rename it as you like. 

And, it converts the installer app to dmg automatically. I like this feature as other VM programs require you to create a bootable image either in DMG or ISO yourself. For VirtualBox, you may even have to enter a couple of commands to do so. 

auto create disk image

Creating a disk image won’t take you too long and it is even faster on a SSD. Then give your virtual Sierra a name and location.

vm name and location

You can configoure your VM or leave the default. Click Continue to boot the VM.

vm configuration

After booted, choose the language:

set vm language

Unlick others, you are able to install the VM directly by clicking Install macOS without going to Disk Utility and format the virtual HDD.

install macos vm

However, you would get the below error message when you try to install VM Sierra that reads: “This copy of the Install macOS Sierra application is damaged, and can’t be used to install macOS.”

OK, no worry! The installer is not corrupted, but you would get the error due to the incorrect date setting. And, here’s a simple fix for it.
Go Utilities in the menu bar in the VM machine and open Terminal.

And enter the below command and hit return:

date 0518142319

For more details about what command should be used, you can check the detailed guide by Roman Loyola from Macworld.com.

Then, you can go on and click Continue and agree with the terms and install the macOS Sierra on Macintosh HD.

install vm

macOS Sierra VM will automatically restart and you will have to setup your VM like what you do on a real machine. After it is booted, go Actions-Install Parallels Tools in top menu bar.

install parallels tools

Click the mounted image and click install to install the tools! After that, you will be required to reboot and after rebooting, you will see the VM runs more smoothly and shared folders are available!

Tips: be sure to allow “Parallels International GmbH” in Security & Privacy as well as Accessibility in Privacy. 

allow parallels international gmbh
allow parallels to control

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Phil Hawkshaw
Phil Hawkshaw
1 year ago

Hi,

This is a really promising solution thanks for sharing it.

However since the move of OS updates to the System Settings app the download links for older OSs down seem to work. The link shows Sierra in the App Store but on clicking ‘Get’ it tries to open it in the OS update section of the Settings app and states it cannot be found and that the Mac is up to date.

crzyG
crzyG
5 months ago

Hi Hunk,

unfortunately I’ve got the following info during the step “macOS Utilities / install macOS”:
“This version of the program is corrupt and cannot be used to install mac os”
Any idea? I´m using Mac OS Catalina 10.15.4 and Parallels Desktop Pro 15.1.4.

Many thanks in advance.

crzyG

crzyG
crzyG
5 months ago
Reply to  Hunk

Hi Hunk,
Many thanks for your fast response. I’ve double ckecked the MD5 in the Terminal.app and the result was the same 1d5ac8c4bce02beb3b441eca744f893b.
Unfortunaltely I cant still install Mac OS Sierra (“This version of the program is corrupt and cannot be used to install mac os”).
Do you have any other ideas?

Best
crzyG

crzyG
crzyG
5 months ago
Reply to  Hunk

Hi Hunk,
I’ve tried your advice, but unfortunately it doesn’t work too. I’ve added the command date 0518142319 and get the following:

The default interactive shell is now zsh.
To update your account to use zsh, please run chsh -s /bin/zsh.
For more details, please visit https://support.apple.com/kb/HT208050.

(device):~ (user)$ date 0518142019
date: settimeofday (timeval): Operation not permitted

It seems, that I have the z-shell (zsh 5.71.) in Catalina, not (more) the bash-shell.
Does that mean I have to use another command line for changing the date?
Regards Torsten

crzyG
crzyG
5 months ago
Reply to  Hunk

Hi Hunk,
many many thanks for your support – Sierra is running in the VM now!
Regards
crzyG

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