Test Drive OS X 10.11 El Capitan on VMware with Windows 8.1,10,7 PC

We have previously published several guides and articles about running Mac OS X with VMware and VirtualBox on Windows PC, you can find them all here. As the latest Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan available as beta download for developers now, this post is to confirm that upgrading the existing Yosemite 10.10 on VMware works fine on Windows OS Intel platform. You can follow this guide to test drive the latest OS X 10.11 El Capitan on VMware workstation or VMware Player with your Windows 8.1, 7 or the upcoming Windows 10 physical computers.

The latest OS X 10.11 will come mainly with “under-the-hoot” changes and improvements. You will not be seeing any major interface changes like how Yosemite brought few interface changes from earlier version. This new release is mainly focusing on performance improvement and faster app launching. This might make old Apple hardware owners happy. You can find more features and how the performance improvement have been incorporated in the latest OS X here.

As we can’t expect the same Apple hardware performance and working experience on VMware virtualization, still it’s clearly showing the performance boost inside VMware workstation with Windows 8.1 than earlier OS X versions.

How This Works?

As of now, we could not figured out the fresh installation method of OS X 10.11 on VMware workstation. This might required to prepare an installation disk out of the downloaded package from Apple App store. We are skipping the method here.

What we are going to do is, just upgrade the existing Yosemite on VMware workstation. You can find the way of how OS X 10.10 Yosemite can be installed on VMware workstation.

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Test Drive Steps for El Capitan on VMware Workstation

1) Maker sure you have the OS X 10.10 on VMware workstation. The following guides will be helpful to have it.

Upgrade OS X 10.9 to 10.10

Upgrade 10.10 to 10.10.3 on VMware workstation

Here is the version I have on VMware workstation 10 with my Windows 8.1 64bit PC.

running os x on Vmware

2) Since this is for experimenting and learning purpose to see what’s new on El Capitan and how it works on VMware workstation, you have two better option to play safely.

a) Take a snapshot: Take a snapshot before you proceed anything, this will help in reverting back the virtual machine to earlier state if the installation of OS X 10.11 failed.

b) Clone the Mavericks VM and create a new VM out of it. Therefore, the earlier OS X 10.10 virtual machine will be safe and you can play with the newly created VM from cloning and installing El Capitan on it.

3) Download the OS X 10.11 El Capitan. Currently its available for Apple developers only. You can download and start the installation from App store inside Mac virtual machine. Remember to take the snapshot. As you aware, this version also will be free for Mac OS X users.

4) Start the installation. The installation (upgrade) steps are very similar to earlier versions. If you do in the live system, Apple recommends to take the backup by using time machine!.

Installing OS X 10.11 on VMware workstation

5) The virtual machine will reboot and continue the installation.

6) Here is the working OS X 10.11 El Capitan on VMware workstation 10 with Windows 8.1 PC. As said earlier, the performance is better than earlier Mavericks OS X.working os x 10.11 on VMware workstation


  • If you face any screen or display issues inside virtual machine, you must check this guide and apply few tweaks to improve the display performance.
  • If you think your entire virtual machine is performing very slow, you must use these tweaks to improve the virtual machine performance. Doing the disk defragmentation in VMware settings will improve the virtual machine performance very well.
  • The network, sound and VMware shared folders worked well since the VMware tools was installed earlier with the previous Mavericks OS X version.

I hope this guide would be helpful to test drive the latest OS X 10.11 on VMware workstation with your Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 physical computers.

If you wish to have the fresh installation from scratch, you need the bootable image for VMware workstation, that requires another Mac OS X because you need to have Mac OS X to prepare the bootable USB or VMware disk. Instead of doing these long steps, having a previous OS X as virtual machine then upgrading it to latest OS X 10.11 via app store will be easy.

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.

4 thoughts on “Test Drive OS X 10.11 El Capitan on VMware with Windows 8.1,10,7 PC”

  1. I have vmware on windows running either osx mavericks or el capitan, because if I upgrade to el capitan, the network adapter is not recognized anymore. Any help ?

  2. hi sir,
    i have a small problem.. nothing big but i think u can help me out
    i followed ur guide on installing Mavericks 10.9 and its success 😉
    but the thing is when i open about this MAC it dont show my processor as yours displayed as Intel Core 2 Duo.. it shows unknown..
    i have i7 processor.. how to display those informations as shown in as yours
    thank you

  3. Upgrade from 10.10.3 to 10.10.5 doesn’t start anymore. In the boot process after a third, the vm is switched off. I had to revert to snapshot before this.
    I use a vm updated from Mavericks to Yosemite on VMware Workstation 12 on Windows 8.1
    Now I try directly to install El Capitan, but the download was never finished after several attempts.
    I think the system wants to update to 10.10.5 before El Capitan and this will not work.

  4. Actually the real easy way to install El Capitan from scratch is install the virtual machine in fusion and then modify the configuration file similarly to the mavericks config file (just remove some lines like vmware tools on start nvram cpu etc). After starting install darwin.iso and voilla

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