How to use IE6 IE7 IE8 and IE9 (and other Windows apps) on OSX Lion using VirtualBox for free (legally!)



Thankfully this guide is no longer needed!


Microsoft has released their own supported VirtualBox/VMware images for testing IE on OSX (and Linux). Download them from




Leaving the guide here for posterity…

I found myself needing to test multiple IE versions in OSX and couldn’t find a step-by-step guide that “just works” and perfectly replicates the real browser behavior. I wrote these notes just to remind myself how I did it, and figured it could help someone else online.

Note: For a more automated way of accomplishing this, check out ievms. I haven’t personally used it, but it looks like it automatically does most of the steps below.

Microsoft makes free VM images available for testing IE. They expire after a few months so you’ll have to periodically repeat this process, but it’s not too bad once you get the hang of it. There are plenty of other guides on how to use these, but I never found an up-to-date guide for using them in VirtualBox on OSX. (This guide was made using the “Publish Date: 8/16/2011″ VMs and VirtualBox 4.1.2)

(Note: I’ve only used the XP image to test IE6, 7 and 8, but the Windows 7 image should be similar)

  1. Goto and download the Windows_XP_IE6.exe file
  2. This exe file is actually a RAR wrapper, so add a .rar extension and use a program like Keka to extract it. (You should end up with a “Windows XP.vhd” file)
  3. Also download the iso from (my version was 0.1-15)
  4. Start VirtualBox and create a new VM. (I give it 512MB ram). Give it a new hard disk (choose VDI, dynamic, 64GB). Do NOT use the existing VHD you downloaded, it won’t work!
  5. Navigate to the new VM directory in Finder and copy the Windows XP.vhd there.
  6. Open a terminal window in that directory and run VBoxManage clonevdi "Windows XP.vhd" --existing IE6.vdi (Substitute the name of your VM instead of IE6)
  7. (Optionally) delete the Windows XP.vhd so it doesn’t take up space and we don’t accidentally use it in the VM.
  8. In VirtualBox, navigate to your VM’s settings and uncheck ‘Enable Audio’, in the Network Tab, change NAT to ‘Bridged Adapter’ and under advanced change the adapter type to “Paravirtualized (virtio-net)”. I also uncheck ‘USB 2.0′ from the ports/usb tab. On the storage tab attach the virtio-win iso as the CD
  9. Turn on the VM and login (the password is ‘Password1′). It will prompt to activate within 3 days, choose ‘No’ for now.
  10. Whenever it prompts for CmBatt.sys hit cancel. It’s going to show the ‘Found new hardware wizard” a bunch. Each time choose ‘No, not at this time’, and pay attention to the following screen. If it’s looking for the driver for “Ethernet Controller”, choose “Install the software automatically” then “Continue Anyway”, otherwise choose “Cancel”.
  11. Close the notepad window and windows should finish loading. Choose “No” for restarting your computer now.
  12. Try running IE, it should be working with internet access. The rest of this tutorial might not work if it doesn’t.
  13. In the VirtualBox titlebar, select “Devices -> Install Guest Additions”. Proceed through the wizard in the VM and click “Continue Anyway” whenever prompted. Choose “Reboot Now”
  14. After rebooting and trying to login again, you’re forced to activate windows. Choose “Yes, active over the internet”, “No” to registering. It should successfully activate.
  15. You’ll be prompted to install more drivers and find more files, just cancel these.
  16. You now have a fully functional Windows install with IE6. If you prefer IE7 or IE8, choose one of the installers on the desktop. (I don’t choose to install the latest updates when installing them). Only one version of IE can be installed on a VM, so you’ll need to repeat this whole process for each version you’d like.
  17. Just to save bandwidth and disk space, I then go in the control panel and disable automatic windows update.

Technical Notes:
- The key steps in this guide are the virtio networking and the ‘VBoxManage clonevdi’ command. (The clonevdi part wasn’t necessary until the 8/16/2011 Microsoft VMs, which is why most guides are out of date)

9 Responses to “How to use IE6 IE7 IE8 and IE9 (and other Windows apps) on OSX Lion using VirtualBox for free (legally!)”

  1. 1LoKahl

    Thank you very much for sharing this! Got it working like a charm :)
    Getting IE 7, 8, 9 is a lot easier using this route:

  2. 2Dries Desmet

    There is a typo: VBoxManage clonevdi “Windows XP.vhd” –-existing IE6.vdi

    (double dash in front of ‘existing’)

  3. 3jeff

    @LoKahl – Glad to hear it worked well for you! That ‘ievms’ script is looks great; I added a note about it at the top of the post.

    @Dries – Thanks, fixed!

  4. 4John

    A million thanks. The only thing worse than having to test in IE6 is not even being able to get a reasonable test environment set. Let the mayhem begin!

    How many more years of this do we get to enjoy?

  5. 5Chris

    It defaulted in with my name as the ID and Password1 doesn’t work with that combo… what ID should I use?

  6. 6jeff

    @Chris – Try using ‘Administrator’ for the id.

  7. 7karlo

    Just so you guys know MS has changed the format of Windows_XP_IE6 from RAR to CAB. You need to get the cab extract package from and rename the extension from .exe to .cab abnd run Keka as usual.

  8. 8rob

    Thanks @karlo! You can also grab cabextract from homebrew:

    brew install cabextract
    cabextract Windows_XP_IE6.exe

  9. 9Tony Zeoli

    I found this tutorial and tried it out. I got to the point where I launched VB, Windows XP started to load and then it just kept going back to the boot mode screen. Something seems to be wrong.

    When I cloned the vhd file, I used “–” and not “-” as Dries noted. Could this have caused the problem.

    It still cloned it, but I noticed that the vhd was 1.36GB and the clone was 1.34GB. Should it be exact match?

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