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  com.apple.Boot.plist 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 com.apple.Boot.plist 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/com.apple.Boot.plist in Text editor.

Increase Mac OS X Snow Leopard Virtual Machine Screen Resolution

3)      Type

<key>Graphics Mode</key>

<string>1280x1024x32</string>


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 com.apple.Boot.plist 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 com.apple.Boot.plist.  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 com.apple.Boot.plist 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”

    • It only worked for me when I applied Method 1 but changed /Extra/org.chameleon.Boot.plist instead.

      IMPORTANT: Make sure to take a snapshot before you make the change because it may render the VM useless!

      • Did you leave /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/com.apple.Boot.plist unchanged?
        To me none of these suggestions works.
        I start using the EmpireEFI4AMD. Does it have any effect to this action?

        By the way:
        I opened the file using:
        cd /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration
        cp com.apple.Boot.plist com.apple.Boot.plist-ori
        This command saves the original file under a different name. (In case I want to make my actions undone)

        sudo pico com.apple.boot.plist
        After input of my password a small editor opens, and I can save the file directly. (without juggling the file between different folders)

      • > It only worked for me when I applied Method 1 but changed /Extra/org.chameleon.Boot.plist instead.

        same here…

    • Just a short addition to the steps mentioned above:
      When you startup the MAC in Virtualbox or VMWARE, check if your desired videomode exists in the list of videomodes at the EFI boot loader screen.

      If it does not exist, create a record using method 2 and then check again if the resolution now exists. If it does, go to method 1. If not, try again to create the record. You need to enter an existing videoresolution in com.apple.boot.plist, otherwise it defaults to 1024x768x32

  1. In my case, this method works, but only up to 1280×1024 (the resolution used as example in this article).

    If you use a resolution higher than that, MacOS will still use 1280×1024. I typed 1920×1080, which is the resolution of my monitor, but I got a 1280×1024 screen instead. At least it’s bigger than the default 1024×768.

    Thanks for the tip!

  2. Running Ubuntu 11.10 on an older Intel System (pre i3, i5, i7)

    VirtualBox Version 4.1.4 r74192

    Mac OS X 10.6.3 install via DVD purchased from Apple

    Method – 3 worked for me (neither 1 or 2 did)

    I did have to add a backslash (/) at the closing angle bracket and make sure the double quotes were the ASCII double quotes (“) in the XML element when I added it to my .vbox file as follows:

    Thanks again!

  3. I cannot get any of the methods to work, actually it made it worse as now I only have 800×600 only. When you move to another method, do you have to remove the previous method workarounds? Guess I can go try that.

  4. Snow Leopard works very well in VirtualBox. Be aware of set processors for virtual machine. Installation of Snow Leopard just works having set 1 processor. Otherwise an exception will occur while booting (Monitor feature not present…)

    Thanks a lot for this manual!!!

  5. You should replace the × in the sample code, otherwise it gets messed up when inserting the custom mode. A plain “x” will do.

  6. I have already done step 1 with no change whatsoever, and now I’m trying to do method 2, but all I get is “Windows cannot find VBoxManage.”

    You say to “Make sure VBoxManage command added to Windows path or you are running it from VB working folder,” but I have no idea what that means. I would edit the .xml file myself, but I can’t seem to find that either. What do I need to do to be able to successfully run the command?

    • You need to enable 2D and ramp up the video memory to at least 64MB (64 is the magic number). 128MB is ideal but bear in mind that (in my experience at least, it might just be the host hardware) the VM uses system RAM rather than dedicated video memory. Slows things down a little.

  7. Method 1 + 2 together worked for me
    I have set the resolution to my real screen resolution.

    this are the steps that i have used:
    – Apply method 1
    – Shut Down the virtual machine , fro the menu on the to left off you OSX screen
    – In the host Close VirtualBox completely.
    – Apply method 2
    – Start VirtualBox
    – In VirtualBox start the Mac OSX virtual machine.
    – IF you are using your actual screen size , set from the View from virtual machine to FullsScreen

    Good Luck

  8. I have done all 3 and none work.
    Resolution is fine on 10.5.5 Virtual Guest
    but with Snow Leopard Guest, I cannot get it to work…

    Any solution???

  9. You must execute the command in the installation folder of VirtualBox, like this:
    C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxmanage setextradata “VM name” “CustomVideoMode1″ “1280×800×32”

    You have to use some DOS command like dir and cd to get into the folder.

  10. This worked for me…

    1. Close all VM Instances and Managers.
    2. Method 2, using 1440x900x32 resolution.
    3. Start VM, at boot options screen, press enter.
    4. Enter “GraphicsMode”=”1440x900x32”, at the command line, press return.

    1440x900x32 is now my persistant resolution. I was stuck on 1152×864 or similar.

    (Windows 7 64-bit, iDeneb V1.4 OSX 10.5.8, VirtualBox 4.1.8)

  11. I have VirtualBox and Mac OS Lion 10.7.2
    No one metod didn’t work!

    Always 1024×768

    HP Envy 14 1366×768 + Monitor 1980

  12. Just to let you know that I managed to change the resolution of my Snow Leopard installation (running on Lion 10.7.2 on an iMac i7 in virtualBox 4.1.8) by using method 2 and 3 at the same time.

    So for example here is my ExtraData section of the .vbox file :

  13. I have done all with the 3 methods. But it didn’t work before turn off the EFI boot option in the virtualbox system preference. If it did not work with any methods, you try to uncheck the EFI boot option box.

  14. Here are the settings that worked for me. (Replace square brackets with the right character.)

    [ExtraDataItem name=”CustomVideoMode1″ value=”1920x1200x32″/]
    [ExtraDataItem name=”VBoxInternal2/EfiGopMode” value=”5″/]

  15. Hi!
    I have been trying to configure my new monitor to the 1920×1080 resolution with several tips readed in differents forums, but finally the only thing that worked for me was install chamaleon, disabling EFI in the virtual box (I had installed chimera). And with the first restart after the installation, the resolution was configured without doing nothing more.

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  16. Here is the exact command I’m trying but it doesn’t work.

    C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage setextradata “OSX” “CustomVideoMode1” “1280x800x32”

    Does anyone see why it doesn’t work ? (wrong caracter or something)

    Thx

    • Guys, for dummies like me, please note that the way you type the command is very important, a small detail can make it fail. After spending hours trying to enter it properly (method 2) it finally worked. I copy/paste the command from :

      http://indoors.jmones.net/2011/04/15/notes-on-setting-1680×1050-resolution-on-a-snow-leopard-inside-a-virtualbox/

      It didn’t work with the commands above in the thread.

      To be more specific (you can compare with my previous command, I don’t see a difference, but this one works the other doesn’t)

      C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage setextradata “OSX” “CustomVideoMode1” “1280x800x32”

      • also for those who wonder, it looks like you can setup any resolution (not just any Mac compatible resolution). I’ve set it up to 1366x768x32 on mine and it perfectly fits my screen

        • I have succeeded with editing the Mac OS boot file, but my custom entry “1920x1080x32” results in 1280×1024. Whenever I add an entry, such as the CustomVideoMode1, to the vbox, after powering off the vbox, the entry is gone again. Really frustrating.

        • That worked perfectly for me. Thanks kilt!

          Frikki, try Method 1 as well. I tried the 1st before the 2nd and it worked.

  17. Beauty Wow Mac OSX Looks so sweet on my screen in full 192-x1080. Now just to get XCode without the mac app store.,

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