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Install VM Tool on macOS Catalina on VirtualBox For better Performance

VMware Workstation Pro is supposed to be one of the best Virtualization software in the Virtual testing world. In the row of ranking and testing with the virtual machine, the open-source software known as the VirtualBox comes in second. With the macOS 10.15 Catalina on VirtualBox, the problem of graphics and not having a good performance, made us believe to leave it behind and use the VMware Workstation Pro. Constantly if you are using VMware you know, the support for the macOS on VMware was added by the released of Mojave. So, its only two years and still it works perfectly compared to the VirtualBox, it also tools to configure resolutions, improve mouse performances, and enhances graphics operations. I don’t know if you guys have noticed or not but the VirtualBox has additional tools for configuring graphics options for the VM. Here is the truth, it is not working with macOS, but with other operating systems it works so well.

In the new VirtualBox version, you will notice a new feature has been included and that is the VMSVGA. In other words, there are three types of graphics available with Virtualbox and they are the vBoxVGA, VMSVGA, and vBoxSVGA.

  1. VBoxSVGA: The default graphic controller for the windows 7 and later, and Linux operating systems is VBoxVGA. According to the Oracle, it has improved performance and 3D support.
  2. VBoxVGA: The legacy guest operating system has the default graphic support of the VBoxVGA, so, it the default controller for operating systems before the Windows 7.
  3. VMSVGA: The newly added graphics controller is VMSVGA, this graphic controller emulates the VMware SVGA graphic device.

What are the differences between VBoxVGA, VMSVGA, and VBoxSVGA in VirtualBox?

The basic difference was mentioned before but some programs have found some detail difference inside the source code of the VirtualBox. Also, keep in mind this potion is copied from superuser forum.


This emulates a graphics adapter specific to VirtualBox, the same as in previous versions (<6.0.0).

  • This is the default for images created for previous versions of VirtualBox (<6.0.0) and for Windows guests before Windows 7.
  • It has some form of 3D passthrough, but – if I remember correctly – uses an insecure approach that just lets the guest dump any and all commands to the host GPU.
  • Using it on a Linux guest requires installing the guest additions because this adapter is not (yet) supported by the mainline Linux kernel.
  • Only supports OpenGL 1.1 on 64bit Windows 10 and all Linux guests.

This option likely exists just to provide continuity – after upgrading to 6.0, all old VMs have this mode selected automatically so there’s no unexpected change in behavior; you don’t lose whatever acceleration you previously had.


This emulates the VMware Workstation graphics adapter with the “VMware SVGA 3D” acceleration method.

  • Contrary to what the manual says, this is currently the default for Linux guests.
  • It is supposed to provide better performance and security than the old method.
  • This is supported by the mainline Linux kernel using the SVGA driver.
  • Supports OpenGL 2.1 on all Windows and Linux guests.
  • It might also have the advantage of supporting old operating systems which had VMware guest additions available but not VirtualBox guest additions. (I plan to test this with Windows 9x, which is otherwise a massive pain to get even VESA graphics working with VirtualBox)


This provides a hybrid device that works like VMSVGA (including its new 3D acceleration capabilities), but reports the same old PCI VID: PID as VBoxVGA.

  • This is the default for Windows guests.
  • The advantage of this mode is that you can upgrade existing VMs (which previously used VBoxVGA and had the VirtualBox Video driver installed) and they don’t lose their graphics in the process – they still see the same device, until you upgrade the “guest additions” at any later time to enable 3D acceleration.
  • Also, because it’s still VMware SVGA emulated by VirtualBox, choosing this option and using the VirtualBox driver may still have advantages over the VMware one, e.g. allow to make use of VirtualBox-specific additional features.


This is, obviously, no emulated graphics at all. Only use it if you provide a real GPU via PCI passthrough, or if your system absolutely doesn’t need a GPU.

Install VM Tool on macOS Catalina on VirtualBox

Step 1. Enable VMSVGA

Power off the Virtual machine created for the macOS 10.15 Catalina, open settings> head over to the Display tab and change the graphics controller from the VBoxSVA to VMSVGA.

Install Guest Tool

Once the graphic changes are made, apply the setting and turn on the Virtual machine containing the macOS 10.15 Catalina.

Step 2. Download and load the VM Tool to enable Guest features

  • Download VM Tool

Since the VM Tools was built for the VMware and now with the support of the VirtualBox, you can install it on the VirtualBox too. Click on the devices menu> optical devices> choose disk image.

locate the VM Tools

Step 3. Start the installing the VM Tools

Once the VM Tool is loaded, just click “Install VM Tools” and the guest will start the installation.


Pass the other steps by simply clicking next until you reach the installation is done, there you have to wait five to ten minutes until the “system extensions” opens. After that, simply select “open security preferences”.

When the security and privacy are opened, click allow and enter the login credentials to allow the changes made to the macOS 10.15 Catalina.

system Extension Blocked

Once you allowed the changes, after ten to twenty minutes a notification will appear which says the installation was successful. So, you have to restart the guest operating system so, the changes must be applied.

Step 4. Enable system Extension Blocked by the operating system

It common, do not panic, once the Guest operating system is restarted, you will face a notification saying the system extension blocked. To fix the problem, open the security preferences and allow it again.

Open system Extension Blocked

Confirm if the changes are made and it is working with Virtual machine, to confirm it visit the preference> about. If the “display is 128 MB” then certainly it is working if not, you have to reinstall the VM Tools.

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Caleb March 19, 2020 at 9:07 pm

Don’t install on Catalina 10.15.3. It bricked my install and now wont boot.

Ghulam Abbas March 19, 2020 at 9:39 pm

Recently I have noticed it too.
The VMware Tools will be recognized as a legacy extension which is not recognizable in mac. For older version it can work.
Basically, VMware Tools works as a driver, it can enable copy and paste between the host and the Virtual Machine. For that I recommend you to use the file sharing between the mac and windows.
Here is the GUide.

Those who want to try the VMware Tools on VirtualBox, please take a snapshot before trying VMware Tools.

afsasd March 3, 2020 at 9:05 pm

wtf is VM Tool? Download from where?

Ghulam Abbas March 3, 2020 at 9:15 pm

Sorry; Download VMware Tools for macOS Catalina from here.


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