How to Increase Mac OS X Snow Leopard Virtual Machine Screen Resolution on VirtualBox and VMware

Are you running Snow Leopard on Intel or AMD Computers by any of the desktop virtualization software VMware or VirtualBox? Then this post will be helpful to increase screen resolution size of Snow Leopard Virtual Machine to get full screen. Adjusting screen size including wide screen on VMware is easy since VMware tools ( Not official, with VGA driver) available, but setting up screen resolution in VirtualBox is slightly different for each installation methods.

Updated on 21 Aug 2010

This post is updated with most of the working methods on VirtualBox to adjust screen size with user comments and my experience.

VMware users

If you are running latest Snow leopard on VMware by any of the following methods,

Install Mac Snow Leopard 10.6.4 in VMware Player with Pre Installed Mac VMware Image

Fresh Snow Leopard 10.6.4 installation on VMware with Original retail DVD

Then visit

Increase Screen Resolution with Wide Screen support for Mac OS  X on VMware

VirtualBox Users

If you are running latest snow leopard on VirtualBox with following any of the methods,

How Install Mac Snow Leopard on VirtualBox 3.2 in Non Apple, Intel PC

Mac OS X Guest Snow Leopard 10.6.4 on PC with VirtualBox 3.2.6

Then follow the steps,

Method -1

If you installed Mac OS X by any of the hacked (hackintosh) ISO files, then do this first. ( This works for original retail DVD installations also)

You could see file in /Extra folder. Before continue the next steps, first edit this file under /Extra with mentioned strings in step 3.

This may give the required resolution without editing the file under /Library/Preferences.

If this doesn’t work then modify under /Library/Preferences as shown below

Increase Mac OS X Snow Leopard Virtual Machine Screen Resolution in VirtualBox

1)      Start the Virtual Machine.

2)      Open /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/ in Text editor.

Increase Mac OS X Snow Leopard Virtual Machine Screen Resolution

3)      Type

<key>Graphics Mode</key>


1280x1024x32 – is your option. Type the correct screen resolution which matches your monitor.

Here is the screenshot of my file.

Increase Mac OS X Snow Leopard Virtual Machine Screen Resolution

4)      Select Save As in Text editor file menu and save it on desktop or somewhere else.

Make sure to save with same .plist file. ( Remove the tick as mention below)

Increase Mac OS X Snow Leopard Virtual Machine Screen Resolution

5)      Now, copy or drag file from desktop to /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/ or /Extra location where ever it needs to be replaced.

Enter Mac root (admin) password to authenticate replacing file.

6)      That’s it. Restart the Mac Virtual machine. By default Mac OS X will go to the screen resolution you set up  Check it by going to ‘Display’ under ‘System preferences’.

Increase Mac OS X Snow Leopard Virtual Machine Screen Resolution

I didn’t invent this; I just illustrated which mentioned here.

Method -2

Try this method if method 1 fails.

This method to modify VirtualBox settings for specific virtual machine.

Close VirtualBox completely and run following command,

VBoxManage setextradata “VM name” “CustomVideoMode1″ “1280×800×32”

“VM name” – Excact virtual machine name of Mac OS X,  execute this command with Quotes.

Make sure VBoxManage command added to Windows path or you are running it from VB working folder.

The above command will modify XML file of Virtual machine. Just boot and see whether its working.

If not, while booting at the EFI boot loader screen, type;

“Graphics Mode”=”1280x800x32” and press Enter.

Always better to give the same screen resolution size mentioned in file.

Method -3

This is similar to method 2, but slighlty different.

Execute this command in VirtualBox folder:

VBoxManage setextradata “VM name” VBoxInternal2/EfiGopMode 3

“VM name” – Excact virtual machine name of Mac OS X,  execute this command with Quotes.

No 3 – this is the number of video modes. Only 5 resolutions are supported:

0 – 640×480
1 – 800×600
2 – 1024×768
3 – 1280×1024
4 – 1440×900

Or you can add a string on Virtual machine’s XML file to execute this command every time while machine is coming up.

<ExtraDataItem name=”VBoxInternal2/EfiGopMode” value=”3″>

Warning – If you are copying any of the commands from this post, make sure opening and closing quotes are correct!!

I’m sure one of this  will work with VirtualBox to increase Snow Leopard screen resolution. Special thanks to Sysprobs readers who left valuable comments.

Share your success and failure stories on this method.We will fix it together.

Have fun

Dinesh is the founder of Sysprobs and written more than 400 articles. Enthusiast in Microsoft and cloud technologies with more than 15 years of IT experience.

258 thoughts on “How to Increase Mac OS X Snow Leopard Virtual Machine Screen Resolution on VirtualBox and VMware”

  1. Thank you Mr.Sysprobs
    Finally i succedded fixing resolution problem after following your tutorial. once more thnx!
    you’ve said that only 5 options are supported but it worked well on my laptop with 1366×768 resolution.
    once more time.. thank you!!

  2. Sometimes if any of the methods don’t work and if you are using another bootloader ! such as empire efi or another chcange on the cd. On windows do that with magic iso. Regards

  3. i cant even save the file in method 1 because the “extra” is read only. i even tried logging in with the root user but it didnt work. i dont even get how to use methods 2 and 3.

  4. Method #2 worked for me, just remember to do the “Graphics Mode”=”1440x900x32” thingy at the boot loader.

    Using Virtualbox with Snow Leopard.

  5. Strangely enough, using a stock VM setup I’ve managed to get 1280×800 windowed on a 1440×900 screen using the remote desktop feature (works on XP, OSX and OpenSuSE 11.4) with no additional manual setup.

  6. I have a working snow leopard in virtualbox 4.1.4 that sits on a win7 x64 host.

    I was able to get a single resolution set by editing the plist created by Multibeast in /Extra & by adding the needed lines to my .vbox file as explained above.

    My question is, — is it possible to have more than one resolution to switch between? I need just one more specified. I have tried adding more lines to the .vbox file to no avail.. and wasn’t sure if the plist can take another graphics mode key.

    • I would suggest going headless and connecting to the virtual machine via Remote Desktop (enable the feature per VM in Virtualbox before you kick up the appliance), it’s working a treat here but I’m still having issues with getting the full 1440×900 on my secondary screen… I’m going to try ramping up the video memory some more see if that solves it. Watch this space.

  7. Guys, look again at Kilt’s comments and the jmones link. You have to first edit your .vbox file (not the xml as in the guide). Mine now includes this entry:

    Then in Finder you edit the plist file(s). At least, I changed both the /Extra file and the /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration files to include these lines:

    Graphics Mode

    Then restart the VBox and it works. Man this was hard to figure, and AFAICT the .xml file in .VirtualBox is not involved here, just the .vbox entry in VirtualBox VMs folder.

    Works great as a window within my 2560×1600 display, no video memory magic needed here.

  8. Oops the entry above got auto-deleted by this page somehow. Let me try again with the .vbox line:

    ExtraDataItem name=”CustomVideoMode1″ value=”1920x1440x32″

    You will have to add the left/right arrows & slashes…

  9. Great overview and excellent set of links. Installed the latest virtualbox 4.1.6 and was up and running OSX Snow Leopard in less than an hour. I previously struggled to try running it directly on hardware, with limited success, but I was not ready to buy the right hardware to run the OS with hacks. I’ve heard of too many stories about updates killing the hacks as well. Anyway, this worked well but definitely has its limitations. After all was said and done, I applied the latest 10.6.8 patches and the system would no longer boot through EFI; I had not yet patched the direct boot yet. Tried a second time with an attached physical drive this time. Again, no installation issues and this time after applying the 10.6.8 patches in phases, installed application patches first, then direct boot to partition, and finally the 10.6.8 upgrade. This time I got “Press and hold the Power Button” crash, but the OS did upgrade and would boot.

    I liked the ability to run and the fact the most things worked without any “tweaking” on my part. It booted quickly and did not feel like a virtual machine other than the display. Most things worked without issue.
    What I did not like was limited control of display resolution; had to “tweak” a file and reboot to change display resoluton. No hardware acceleraton notived on some software (RenewedVision Propresenter/PVP) that I wanted to run. It either would not (Invalid Pixel Format) or had some runtime issue. Stupid things like “About This Mac” would not come up; I assume failing while cataloging existing hardware for display. I could not get USB flash drives to appear in the virutal world, but still trying.

    All in all not perfect, but I can explore the Mac world on a more regular basis and hopefully keep up to date with newer versions. Impressed with VirtualBox. Happy with the support for OSX. This certainly is not a Mac replacement option, but it was a lot of fun. Thanks agin!

  10. @ all its very impresive,,, please set your screen resloution and check it in virtualbox boot (resolution) adjust depends on that ..

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