Brett Stimmerman

How To Run IE on Your Mac with Virtualbox

11 August 2009

Recently at work I’ve switched from Parallels to VirtualBox for my virtualization needs. VirtualBox has come a long way recently, and I’m very pleased with its performance and ease of use. Parallels was starting to become noticeably slow, and was generally not working well for me anymore.

At first, I tried to convert my Parallels .hdd images to VM Ware .vmdk format, which is natively supported in VirtualBox. Virtual PC .vhd format is also natively supported. Since my Parallels images are fully licensed versions of Windows XP, I didn’t want them to go to waste. Sadly, the converted images were corrupt and weren’t recognized by VirtualBox, and I ended up wasting several hours.

I decided to ignore Parallels completely and simply use the free Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Images from Microsoft. I should have done this in the first place, because setting them up was a breeze with the help of the internet and a few helpful how-to articles I found. I could link to those how-to’s here but instead I wanted to post my own condensed version of the steps I took setting everything up. Mainly for myself for future reference.

Step 1

Download and install VirtualBox and Stuffit Expander. You can skip Stuffit Expander if you already have a tool for opening self-extracting .exe files.

Step 2

Download the free Windows XP IE App Compat VPC images that you’ll need and extract the .vhd images with Stuffit Expander (or your tool of choice).

Using Finder, navigate to /Library/VirtualBox and create a new folder for each image. Move the extracted .vhd files into these new folders.

Step 3

In Terminal, run the following for each image:

$ cd /Library/VirtualBox/<image>
$ VBoxManage internalcommands sethduuid <image>.vhd

This undocumented command will avoid UUID conflicts when creating multiple VMs. If you’re only setting up one VM, you can skip this.

Step 4

In VirtualBox, create a new Windows XP VM and follow the prompts. When asked, choose Use existing hard disk. Click the folder icon to open the Virtual Media Manager. Click Add and navigate to a .vhd file you extracted and relocated in step 2. Click Select to choose the new virtual disk. Finally, click Next then Finish.

Step 5

Start your new VM. Close/cancel any Windows popups or dialogs that appear. There will be quite a few.

From the VirtualBox VM menu bar in OS X select Devices > Install Guest Additions… and follow the Windows prompts. Reboot Windows when asked.

Step 6

Now it’s time to install the network drivers. Why this isn’t covered by the VirtualBox Guest Additions is beyond me.

In Windows go to Start > Run… and run the following:

D:\VBoxWindowsAdditions-x86.exe /extract /D=C:\Drivers

Back to Start > Run… and run:


In Device Manager, find Network adapters > Ethernet controller. Right click it, and select Update Driver….

In the Hardware Update Wizard choose No, not this time and click Next. Select Install from a list or specific location and click Next. Check the option Include this location in the search and paste the following into the Location box:


Alternatively, you can choose Don’t search … and navigate to the location manually. Click Finish and you should have a working network connection.

Step 7

In Device Manager, find Batteries > Unknown device. In my case, there were two. Right click each and select Disable and confirm. These appear to be VirtualPC specific. In any case, they aren’t really necessary anyway.

Next find Universal Serial Bus controllers > Universal Serial Bus (USB) Controller. Again, there were two. Disable them as well.

Finally, find Sound, video and game controllers > Multimedia Audio Controller and disable it.

Additional VMs

Repeat steps 4-7 to set up additional VMs, and enjoy your new VirtualBox goodness.


  • 09 Sep 2009
    Microsoft has added WGA to their IE App Compat images, making them more difficult to use in VirtualBox.
  • 15 Oct 2011
    To this day, I still use some of the original VM images I created using this technique.