Installing Windows 8 or Windows 7 on a Mac without Superdrive with VirtualBox

Version française ici

It works GREAT with Windows 8!

October 29th, 2012 update: Works perfectly with Windows 8 RTM (the one sold)

July 25th, 2012 update: Works with Mountain Lion

June 6th, 2012 update: After 4 months and hundreds of testers, I can tell that everyone that has tried this tutorial, has been successful in installing Windows! Because this method just works!
Hello everyone,

I’ve been trying to install Windows 7 on my MacBook Pro that doesn’t have a superdrive and it’s been quite painful. But I’ve found a solution that works perfectly. I’ve written this post in French, but it seems legit to have a world wide audience for that solution that I hope will work for your too!

I’ve tried several tutorials on the web, but none has really worked. To do this one, I’ve been inspired by this article, which is really great… but didn’t do the trick to me!

If you are lucky, try Part 2 directly, it might work for you if you have a 2011 MacBook Pro. For others, start at Part 1!

What you’ll need:

The 3 big steps:

  • Create a « Generalized » Windows 7 installation
  • Create a BootCamp partition
  • Clone the « generalized » Windows 7 image onto the BootCamp partition

Let’s Go !

Part 1 – Create a « Generalized » Windows 7 image

First, we are going to create a Windows 7 installation that will not take into account the hardware on which it’s running. Indeed, when Windows is installing, it takes into account the hardware it’s running on to configure only the drivers it needs. But in this first step we’re installing it on a Virtual Machine, which is not a real PC, so we need to say to Windows: Ok, next time you boot, check the hardware and install any necessary driver.

Step 1: Install Windows 7 on the Virtual Machine

  1. Download and install VirtualBox
  2. Add a new virtual machine and name it Win7 (easier when prompting commands later), add how much RAM you want
  3. Add a VDI hard drive of type and then, choose dynamically allocated that uses 10 Gb (you’ll need less, but it is to be sure, and you can choose more, but it’s going to take longer in the last part of this tutorial)
  4. Launch the virtual machine and choose the ISO image of Windows 7 installer
  5. It’ll take two reboots to finish the installation

First step is done. Let’s start tricking Microsoft!

Step 2: Delete the « System reserved » Partition

Truth is, Windows has created two partitions when installing, to prepare the use of the built-in encryption technology called BitLocker. And this little partition is considered as the principal, which means Windows will eventually boot on this one and not the one we’d like to. This is why we need to delete this partition.

Just go and use this great article from Terabyteunlimited to do the trick. You’ll only need part 1 and 3 and to reboot the system between these two steps.

Step 3 : Generalize the Windows 7 installation with sysprep

I must say this step was the most painful to me, because I didn’t have any tutorial and needed to find why things didn’t work by myself !
What we’ll basically do here is create an installation of Windows that is independent of the hardware it’s booting on with the help of sysprep.

    1. Reboot your virtual machine (we’re never too safe…)
    2. Don’t ask me why BUT we need to stop the Windows Media Player Service
      1. Click on Start
      2. in the search box, type « cmd »
      3. On the application that has been found, right click and select « Use as an Administrator »
      4. Type this command « net stop WMPNetworkSvc » without the quotes
    3. Go to the directory C:\Windows\System32\sysprep
    4. In this directory, create a file and name it « unattend.xml« , without the quotes. If you don’t have the rights to create a file, then, go to the desktop and then copy it when the next steps are done.
    5. Be careful, when creating the file, it will automatically add the .txt extension. To change this, when on a folder window, hit « alt ». The menu shall appear. Under View, select « Folder Options ». In the window that appears, select the « View » tab and uncheck « Hide extension for known file types ». Then, you’ll see the .txt extension on the unattend.xml file. Erase the .txt extension and click Yes when prompted to change the file extension
    6. Copy-Paste this into the file:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend">
     <settings pass="generalize">
          <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Security-Licensing-SLC"
processorArchitecture="x86" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35"
language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS"
  1. Save it (and copy it in the sysprep folder)
  2. Double click on sysprep app and select these options: (complementary info).
    1. In the « System Cleanup Action list » list, select « System Out-of-Box Experience (OOBE)« 
    2. Select the « Generalise » check box
    3. In the « Shutdown Options » list, select « Shutdown« 
    4. Click OK

If your virtual machine stops, you can be proud of yourself because you’ve done the most difficult part! Congrats!

If you get the painful error : « A fatal error occurred while trying to Sysprep the machine.« , you can try what a commentor has tried: run this command in cmd (without the quotes): « sysprep.exe /generalize /oobe /shutdown /unattend:unattend.xml »

If you still have the error, it might be because your Windows Media Player Service has been reactivated, try to turn it off once again. Also, adding a comment made by Julian:

If anyone is getting the « A fatal error occurred while trying to Sysprep the machine » for Part 1 Step 3 on the unattend.xml file. I suggest you type out the xml file instead of copying and pasting. This fixed the issue in my case. There may be some hidden characters or incorrect format. Also try saving the file as UTF-8 instead of ANSI.

Otherwise, well, you’re screwed… But you can be helped by opening the log file that can be found in that folder: C:\Windows\System32\sysprep\Panther. At the end of the log, you’ll find the error ID. Google might help you with it!

Well done to the ones that have gone so far, the end is near !

Part 2 – Create a BootCamp partition

I know that I’m giving the hardest solution here, and I hope it’ll go painlessly for you, but I had to do all these steps. If you can create the Bootcamp partition without these steps, you can go to the Third Part (the easiest!).

EDIT Thanks to Andrea Comment
You can easily bypass this Part 2 by installing Daemon Tools Lite For Mac. After downloading and installing this app, just mount the Windows ISO image in Daemon Tools. This will trick Bootcamp thinking you have a real Windows DVD.

Step 1: Create the BootCamp partition

Well, I must say that I’ve done that a long time ago, so I can’t recall everything, but these are the main steps.
As explained before, I don’t have a super drive. So I need to make the BootCamp Assistant think I’m a Mac with rights to boot on a USB drive. To do that :

  1. Go to Applications/Utilities
  2. Right click on Boot Camp Assistant and select « Show Package Contents« 
  3. Open the Contents folder
  4. Open Info.plist with TextMate or TextEdit. If you don’t have permission to do that, copy the file on your desktop. Once you’ve made the changes, copy back this file in the folder.
  5. Click on the top left Apple menu of your Mac, go to About this Mac. In the opened window, click « More Info« 
  6. In Hardware:
    1. Find Model Identifier (Mine is MacBookPro6,2)
    2. Find Boot Rom Version (Mine is MBP61.0057.B0C)
  7. In the previously opened Info.plist, copy paste the previous info on top of the list in the correct field:
      1. In « <key>DARequiredROMVersions</key>« , add a string that matches your Boot ROM Version. For instance, mine was:
      1. Go to « <key>USBBootSupportedModels</key>« , and add a string that matches your model. It’s a bit tricky here, but you need to find the right model. For instance, I have a MacBookPro6,2, so I had to write: MBP61. If you have a MacBook Air3,2, you would have: MBA31 etc… You can try several times if it doesn’t work. Here is what I added:
  8. Once the info.plist has been saved (and copied where it was before), double click on Boot Camp Assistant, the greyed check box « Create a booting USB drive » shouldn’t be anymore.
  9. You should also check « download the last drivers« , you’ll need it later
  10. At last, create your BootCamp partition

What happened next was that the Mac rebooted, couldn’t boot on the USB drive, and couldn’t find how to boot on the Mac partition neither. Don’t panic, just press the hard button and reboot it again, plugging out your USB drive.
Edit Thanks to wilson :

At the end of Part 2, where we finish installing Boot Camp partition and rebooting i kept getting the « No boot partition found blank screen ».

Easy fix, just reboot again and hold down the « Alt/option » key so you can select your main MAC OS and reboot that way.

Congrats, you’re really near to have your Windows! Great job.

Part 3 – Clone the Virtual Machine Hard Drive onto BootCamp

This is the easiest part and the one that works every time!
In a few minutes, you’ll have your Windows 7!

Step 1: Prepare the Virtual Machine Hard Drive

    1. Download and open VirtualBox
    2. Go to the File menu and click on « Media Manager« 
    3. Click to select the partition that matches your virtual machine
    4. Click on Copy, a wizard should appear
    5. Choose Fixed size. (Really important)
    6. And then rename the file as: Win7_copy. (will be easier when prompting in Terminal)
    7. Once the copy is done, open Terminal (Applications/Utilities), go to the folder where your previously copied file is (to do that use the command « cd path/to/the/file ». VERR_FILE_NOT_FOUND error? read the first few comments below) and paste this command: (this command will create a raw file that can be understood by the Mac as a partition. You’ll be asked for your password)
    sudo VBoxManage internalcommands converttoraw Win7_copy.vdi win7.raw
  1. Once the copy is done, you’ll need to mount this partition. Enter this command:
sudo hdiutil attach -imagekey diskimage-class=CRawDiskImage win7.raw

If everything went well, you should have a disk image called « Untitled » on the desktop. And the end is pretty near!
Last step!

Step 2 – Clone the virtual machine onto the Boot Camp partition

This is the last step.

  1. Download and launch WinClone
  2. On the « Image » Tab:
    1. Source: Choose the partition « Untitled » that matches your virtual machine (should be disk2 or disk3)
    2. Click on Image and choose a folder to copy the files
  3. Once the copy is done, click on the Restore Tab:
    1. Restore Image: Choose the image that has just been done
    2. Destination: « BOOTCAMP »
  4. Click on Restore


If you have a 2009 iMac, please read David comment !

Once the copy is done, reboot your Mac and maintain pressure on the alt button just before the « Dong » sound. You should have your Windows partition. Windows will then initialize with two restarts. You’ll need your CD key again.
You have your Windows !

I hope that I’m clear enough, and I can help some of you in the comment section. Hope you’ll make it !


327 réflexions au sujet de « Installing Windows 8 or Windows 7 on a Mac without Superdrive with VirtualBox »

  1. @Julian: Thanks, your comment is really useful. I’ve added your suggestion

    @Andrea: You saved the tutorial ! Thank you ! My method didn’t work with Mountain Lion, yours is and guess what: it’s much more simpler than mine ! I’ve added your comment. Thank you so much !

    @David: Your comment is really useful and helpful. Thank you. I’ve edited the tutorial with your comment. Thank you so much for people having the iMac ’09 !

  2. Hey,

    Thanks for the guide..

    i followed it, w/ david tweak vor imac 2009

    but after i finished the installation (entered the username and stuff) i only get a blinking cursor when booting from bootcamp..

    whats wrong, what can i do!?

  3. I’m on Mountain Lion and I managed to complete all the steps. However, when I tried booting into windows from the bootcamp partition, I get a black screen with the message ‘No bootable device – insert boot disk and press any key’. Any idea where I might have gone wrong? I can see the bootcamp partition on OS X and everything looks fine from there (program and system files are present) but I just can’t seem to boot into windows. Any help would be appreciated!

  4. Hi friend thanks a lot for this method and for the whole time you spent on developing it! I am on part 3 step 2 but i have a problem i can’t find the WinClone i mean can’t find it for free i have the lion (not mountain lion) version and i downloaded the only free version i could find but it does not support lion so i beg you to tell me an alternative or a way to take a supported version for free (send the site on my email if you find it free)
    I am 15 and from greece so there is no possibility to give 20$ that it cost so please help me
    Thanks for your time

  5. Thanks a lot i found it i was googling it but nothing but no i got it !sorry to bother you again but i run into a problem in a previous stage while creating the raw file i had a problem VBoxManage: error: Only converting harddisk images is supported i did what you suggested to antony in the discussion above but it told me
    Cannot create destination file « win7.raw »: VERR_ACCESS_DENIED
    I am administrator so i don’t get the problem
    sorry again for being annoying But please help!

  6. At the last step to mount the raw image on 10.8, and I run into this issue:

    hdiutil: attach failed – no mountable file systems

    One thing that is not clear to me is the portion about deleting the system reserved partition. When you delete it, there is still 100MB of unallocated space. The linked article shows how to use their tool to remove it completely by merging the two partitions. I ended up finding another tool to merge them and got the error I pasted above. Finally, I redid everything except I did not merge the two partitions. I left the unallocated 100MB partition, and the Windows 7 partition, and continued on with the tutorial. I still get the same error.

  7. I finally got it installed with this method:

    The trick was creating a VM with parallels like you are going to install windows like normal. Before you boot it, change the hard drive to the bootcamp partition. Then you can follow the linked guide to format to NTFS and copy the installer over to the bootcamp partition. Then use rEFIt to boot the install from bootcamp and install Windows 7.

    I did notice when choosing the partition to boot the NTFS partition, that you need to choose the 100MB partition which is actually one number less than the main one. For me it was partition 3 instead of 4.

  8. Hi, thanks very much fo this detailed tutorial. Unfortunately I am stuck at part 2 step 1. I find no key attribute USBBootSupportedModels in my Plist file. I thought this was surprising as surely the file is just imported in a standard form from the Snow Leopard install. I am running OS 10.6.8 on a 2007/8 MBP. When I try to enter the key manually and enter my data as suggested, it breaks the launcher for BootCamp altogether. I have tried different versions of attribute for my Mac model as suggested. Do you have any ideas? Thanks a lot. Z.

  9. Dude, you are genius!!! Your manual work’s o ALL machines that I tested (I work in service centre) – all new and old MacBook Pro’s with crappy SuperDrive which dies in one or two month!!! THANK YOU MAN!!!

  10. Hugues, tu es mon hero!!

    Thanks so much for this great Tutorial, I was already loosing all my hopes to get Windows on my MBP w/o Superdrive. Awesome, it works! Thanks again!

  11. Sooo i came all the way to part 2 , point 9:

    9. You should also check « download the last drivers« , you’ll need it later.

    Problem is that it says these drivers are not available!. Is this because im on snow leopard (10.6.8)? Please let me know…. Then i will upgrade to Lion.

  12. This guide Works with mountain lion (most recent update of today 9.18.12)and new ver of win clone with most recent virtual box as well. I’m using mbpro 3,1 with refit. And broken SuperDrive. Your guide saved me 69 bucks on paying a new one and I can play league of legends again. Thank you sir, time consuming but worth it after 2 days. Of endless reading semi helpful guides!

  13. I have problems in Virtualbox. When i launch the VM, i receive an error: Windows failed to start.

    For take away this issue, just go in the VM options and, under System, check « ENABLE IO APIC ».

  14. Hi, I just wanted to leave a message to say THANKS! After smashing my head into a brick wall trying out all other methods to install windows on a second hard drive, this method finally cracked it.

  15. Hi,

    I’m promted with the following in WinClone:
    Copy Boot File: Don’t replace BCD File / Replace BCD File.

    If I try the last option, I’ll just get an error after a while. If I choose the first one, Windows won’t boot (BCD 0xc000000f Error)

    Any fixes?

  16. Please help!

    Step 3: VBoxManage: error: No file format specified and autodetect failed – please specify format: VERR_FILE_NOT_FOUND

    I did it as administrator (use sudo)

  17. Thanx man, you’re a genius. Been trying to do this for months on my MBP w/o Superdrive, I was about to give up and buy a new superdrive just for this. Thanx

  18. I’m trying to take this tutorial a step forward by triple booting windows 7, windows 8, and osX on my macbook pro. I’ve made successful images that I can use to clone onto FAT32 partitions, but I’ve hit a snag.

    I get windows 7 up and running, and then clone windows 8 and get it running. If I boot back into windows 7 I get the following error

    error: 0x000000000e windows is unable to boot because the boot device is inaccessible.

    Windows 8 still works. If I reclone windows 7 onto the partition it’ll boot, but then windows 8 gives me the same error.

    Are they both trying to use the same BCD files? Any help on getting this to work would be greatly appreciated. LOVE the guide by the way. It’s been so helpful in installing windows 7 without usb/CD-DVD!

  19. Hey Guys, this worked great with windows 8. However I am not having problems adding it to my vmware – it says no bootcamp disk found – any suggestions?

  20. Greeting from the states!

    I don’t usually leave comments on these kinds of things, but I had to thank you. I have tried so many other methods of installing a widows partition since my SuperDrive stopped working, and this one worked quickly and easily.

    Merci beaucoup!

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