The Complete Guide to Running Windows 7 On Mac OS X For Free Using VirtualBox

Herbert Lui

The arrival of Intel-based Macs ushered in a new era: one where running Windows on Mac OS was made possible, which solved a ton of compatibility complaints. My only beef was that rebooting seemed to take ages, and was often too great an obstacle to run something like Windows Live Writer. If you feel the same way then let me introduce you to VirtualBox. If you have happened to read our post on cloning old pc for free then you would know what I am talking about.

Now you can have the best of both worlds running simultaneously on your computer, without having to reboot. If you’ve got a copy of Windows 7 around, you’re in store for a treat. (yes, this guide uses a Mac as the base for running Windows 7 on it. )

1. Download VirtualBox

First, visit the VirtualBox website to download the .dmg file. Save the version for Intel Macs to your computer, and run it.

Download VirtualBox

Set up the file according to the instructions. It’s quite simple, just run through the .mpkg installer and when you’re done, run it from your Applications folder.

2. Create Virtual Machine

Once VirtualBox is installed, you can create your own Virtual Machine. You can do this by running VirtualBox and click blue spiky New icon.

Create A New Machine in VirtualBox

You’re setting up Windows 7, so remember to select that in the setup process. Keep in mind the amount of RAM you put into your virtual machine could greatly adjust performance, but can also adversely affect performance of the host computer (your Mac). I have 2GB of RAM, so I went with the recommended 512MB of memory. So far, Windows 7 is running well for me. The amount of RAM is adjustable and can be tweaked, so don’t worry about it too much.

Setting up RAM in VirtualBox

I chose to go with a dynamically expanding hard drive because it allows space to be more flexible, and takes up only as much space your Virtual Hard Drive does. For example, if you chose to have a dynamically expanding storage virtual hard drive of 60GB and only had Windows 7 and Microsoft Office on there, the virtual hard drive itself would take up less than 20GB of space on your Mac. Conversely, if you chose a fixed-size storage virtual hard drive, the 60GB of storage would be unavailable from the get-go even if you don’t fill up your virtual hard drive.

Dynamically Expanding Hard Drive

Windows 7 itself takes up around 10GB, so I was generous and gave my virtual hard drive around 60GB of storage. Keep in mind there is no easy solution to tweaking hard drive size, so I’d be a bit more careful with this selection.

VirtualBox Hard Drive Size

Here’s a summary of what your VirtualBox virtual machine should resemble.

VirtualBox Summary

3. Set up Virtual Machine

Now that your virtual machine is complete, it’s time to run it. When you start it up, you will see the First Run Wizard pop up.

VirtualBox First Run Wizard

Select the DVD drive you’d like VirtualBox to read if you have a physical copy of Windows 7, or if you have a .iso file, browse through your hard drive to its location.

Select Installation Media on VirtualBox

Navigating through VirtualBox might require capturing your cursor. When in doubt, the default key to switch from Windows cursor to Mac cursor is the left ⌘. You can simply click inside the virtual machine to transition back from Mac cursor to Windows cursor.

Capture Cursor in VirtualBox

PART 2: SETTING UP WINDOWS

4. Select disc

Installing Windows 7 is the easy part. Your virtual machine should boot into Windows setup, and you will be met by this screen. Select the only hard drive available, and press next to continue.

Installing Windows 7 on VirtualBox

5. Install Windows

Go and get some coffee, because Windows 7 takes a while to install. Although on the bright side, it does take less time than the old Windows XP or Vista did.

Install Windows 7 on VirtualBox

Your Windows 7 virtual machine might restart every so often, which is to be expected. Once it’s near completion, you will reach this screen.

Finalizing Settings on Windows 7

Keep carrying through the installation as with a normal Windows installation.

6. Guest Additions (or Drivers)

Now, it’s time to wrap up the whole process by installing drivers, as you would with any other machine. These drivers will enable your virtual machine to expand to any screen resolution your monitor supports, amongst many other features. On your Mac, navigate to Devices, then select Install Guest Additions.

Install Guest Additions to Virtual Machine

This dialog box should pop up on your virtual machine. Run it.

Install Guest Additions to Virtual Machine

Install all the device software that Windows Security prompts you to, including Display Drivers.

Install Guest Additions to Virtual Machine

When the guest additions are installed, you will be prompted to reboot. Accept and reboot the computer, and welcome to the world of Windows 7.

Reboot into Windows 7

Your virtual machine is now complete! If you have any issues, feel free to comment below. Enjoy your new machine, and use the money you saved on Parallels and VMware to have some fun. 🙂

Also See
#virtualbox #virtualization

Join the newsletter