Friday, September 15, 2023

Limitations on macOS Virtual Machines

Howard Oakley:

This is a draft summary of the limitations of lightweight virtualisation of macOS on Apple silicon Macs, using the macOS API in late versions of Ventura and early Sonoma, VMs designated VirtualMac2,1.


Shared folders are only available in Ventura and later VMs. Transferring items using drag and drop is available in all VMs by using Screen Sharing or ARD.


Apple ID isn’t supported in VMs, and they can’t be connected to iCloud Drive or support apps using CloudKit. This means that VMs can’t run the great majority of App Store apps, apart from Apple’s free products such as Numbers, Pages and Keynote.


The shared clipboard to allow copy and paste between host and VM currently appears non-functional, at least when using Apple’s example code.

With all the limitations, I’ve never gotten into using macOS VMs the way I expected to. I do testing using a second Mac either directly or via Screen Sharing. It has multiple partitions for different macOS versions, and the data volumes can be rolled back via APFS snapshots to reset things if necessary.


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Lack of Apple ID-mediated services like iCloud and developer stuff is a killer for me.

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