Running IE6, IE7 and IE8 on your Mac

UPDATE – May 6th, 2013:

Microsoft has now officially released copies of their OS/Browser bundles for all OSes using VirtualBox, Parallels or VMWare! You can get them from

I use a Mac, which means testing my work in IE6, IE7 and IE8 is a pain. I have Parallels installed but I don’t want to buy extra copies of Windows just to test in IE. Plus, Parallels doesn’t compress the virtual hard drive so each OS takes about 10 – 20GB of space.

The good news is that Microsoft provides free VirtualPC disk images for each of their browsers:…

The bad news is that they wont run on Mac and VirtualPC wont run inside Parallels or VMWare Fusion — but I’ve found a solution! We can convert the disk images to work for VMWare Fusion or VirtualBox.


First go and download the versions of IE you want to use:…

To do the conversion you’ll need a copy of the Qemu command line tool. I couldn’t get it to work on Mac, so you’ll probably need to use it on a Linux or Windows machine. (you can do this through Parallels or VMWare Fusion too) Download, extract and install Qemu tool on your computer.


WILL NOT work on windows because it was not compiled to support files over 2GB.


Download “” from:

VMWare Fusion

This is the easiest way to go and has superior support for shared network and clipboard between Mac and PC, except it means you’ll need to buy a copy of VMWare Fusion. I wrote these instructions using the trial version, someday I’ll buy my own full version.

The process will probably take less than an hour and require about 2Gb of space. These instructions are tailored towards using Windows for the file conversion with qemu. If you’re using Linux you’re probably smart enough to adapt these instructions to your system. Several people in the comments have mentioned being able to use Q on the Mac to do the file conversion.

  1. Open a command prompt: Start > Run and type “cmd”
  2. Use “cd” to go to the directory you download and extracted Qemu.
  3. Run:
    qemu-img.exe convert -f vpc "XP SP2 with IE7.vhd" -O vmdk XPIE7.vmdk

    • “XP SP2 with IE7.vhd” is the path to the IE VPC file you downloaded
    • “XPIE7.vmdk” is the new file that VMWare Fusion will use.
  4. Wait…(will probably take 15 – 30 minutes)
  5. Move the new “.vmdk” file to your mac.
  6. Open VMWare Fusion and click File > New
  7. Go through the wizard and when you get to the “Virtual Hard Disk” page, expand “Advanced disk options”, check “Use an existing virtual disk” and use the dropdown to find the new “.vmdk” file.
  8. Finish the wizard and start it! (If prompted to upgrade the virtual harddrive, click “Yes”)
  9. Ignore any driver dialogs that ask you to insert a Windows CD. The VMWare Tools should install these drivers for you (see next step).
  10. Install the VMWare tools (Virtual Machine > Install VMWare Tools) as soon as Windows boots up. If installing the tools gives you a weird error, read the next section.
  11. You’re done!

Installing the VMWare Tools

If the VMWare Tools wont install automatically follow these simple steps to install it manually:

  1. With VMWare Fusion running click Virtual Machine > Install VMWare Tools
  2. Open your “My Computer” to see which drive letter the CDRom with the VMWare Tools has mounted to.
  3. Open a command prompt: Start > Run and type “cmd”
  4. Type the following and press enter (change “D” to the drive letter from step 2):
    • msiexec -i "D:VMware Tools.msi"
  5. The installation wizard should open and walk you through the rest of the install.


The great thing with VirtualBox is that it’s free and available for most OSes! The process will take a little longer and will temporarily require about 20Gb – 30Gb of disk space. In the end your IE virtual disk will only be about 2Gb.

You might be tempted to do the VMWare Fusion conversion, outlined above, and use the “.vmdk” file in VirtualBox. It’s true that VirtualBox supports “.vmdk”, but everytime I tried it I ran into massive problems.

These instructions are tailored towards using Windows for the file conversion with qemu. If you’re using Linux you’re probably smart enough to adapt these instructions to your system. Several people in the comments have mentioned being able to use Q on the Mac to do the file conversion.

  1. Open a command prompt: Start > Run and type “cmd”
  2. Use “cd” to go to the directory you download and extracted Qemu.
  3. Run: qemu-img.exe convert -f vpc "XP SP2 with IE7.vhd" -O raw XPIE7.bin
    • “XP SP2 with IE7.vhd” is the path to the IE VPC file you just downloaded
    • “XPIE7.bin” is the new file.
  4. Wait…(will take about an hour)
  5. Move the new “.bin” file to your mac. (or try the next 2 steps on the same machine)
  6. Install VirtualBox
  7. Convert and compress the “.bin” file. (This can also be done on Windows or Linux if you have VirtualBox on that machine)
    1. Open a terminal or command prompt.
    2. Go to the directory where your “.bin” file is.
    3. VBoxManage convertdd XPIE7.bin XPIE7.vdi (FYI: on Windows, VBoxManage is in “C:Program Filesinnotek VirtualBox”)
    4. VBoxManage modifyvdi XPIE7.vdi compact
  8. Open VirtualBox
  9. Click New
  10. Go through the wizard

    • Give it at least 350MB of “Base Memory”
    • Use the new “.vdi” file as the “Boot Hard Disk”.
  11. Finish wizard and start it!
  12. Ignore any driver dialogs that ask you to insert a Windows CD. The VirtualBox tools should install these drivers for you (see next step).
  13. Be sure to install the VirtualBox tools as soon as Windows boots up. (Click: Device > Install Guest Additions)

Now you can have all IE versions running on your Mac. Enjoy!


  1. Thanks Jeremy. Worked great for me. I struggled to get the VHDs converted to Parallels (Parallels kept insisting I insert the XP SP2 cd), but now I’m up and running on VirtualBox.

  2. Oh yeah. I should mention that I needed a Windows machine to decompress the Windows self-extracting archive from Microsoft Downloads. But, I did not need a Windows or Linux machine for qemu-img. Instead, I installed Q ( and ran the command as such:

    /Applications/ convert -O raw -f vpc XP SP2 with IE7.vhd XP SP2 with IE7.raw

    This worked on Leopard. I also tried and was unable to install qemu or qemu-usermode via MacPorts due to a dependency on gcc33. But the binary which came with Q worked great.

  3. If there is a way to decompress the Windows self-extracting archive (IE6_VPC.EXE, etc.) on a Mac, one could bootstrap virtual machines for IE testing without needing any Windows or Linux setup.

    I tried The Unarchiver, Stuffit expander and unzip in a terminal. All of those claim some support for Windows self-extracting archives, but none were able to decompress this particular file.

    Any one know of a solution here?

  4. i tried to install the VMWare tools, but i get an error. essentially, it spits out the help message from msiexec. i assume this is because this environment is trimmed down. does anyone know anything about this?

  5. Note: qemu-img.exe is located inside “bin” folder. When launching the convert command, I got error message stating “mgwz.dll” was not found. It is located in Qemu root folder, so simply copy it into the same folder where qemu-img.exe is located.

    I could not install VMWare Tools either. I’m using VMWare Fusion 2.0 Beta 1.

  6. I had the same issue as Darcy … still searching for a fix. Thanks for the article!

  7. I’ve got an XPSP2IE6 instance in VirtualBox on my OSX box now, but it wants a Windows CD to install Ethernet drivers for any of the fake network adapters with which VirtualBox provides me.

    Does anyone know of a workaround that doesn’t involve a Windows CD?

  8. Any idea how long convertdd and compress should take? Mine have been cranking for a good hour or so.

    OR, anyone have their compressed ie6 and ie7 vdi files available to share?

  9. Chase, I was able to solve the problem by grabbing an OEM WinXP CD and letting the Windows hardware wizard do its thing, but absent that, you can probably download drivers for the fake network card of your choice, put them in a shared folder, USB drive, or something else accessible from the WinXP VM, and install them manually.

  10. One more thing – when I try to run the VirtualBox compact command as documented, it fails, claiming the hard drive archive is invalid for some reason. VirtualBox runs fine against the uncompacted .vdi file though.

  11. Donald, VirtualBox has a folder it expects your .vdi file to be in and won’t compact it otherwise. I forget the folder, but it is listed in the error message you’re speaking about. Stick the .vdi in that folder and it will compact it just fine.

  12. Great tip! This worked perfectly for me – I was even able to perform the entire process on the Mac, using wine/Crossover to extract, and Q to convert. Needs alot of temporary HD space, but it works!

  13. This worked amazingly well for me.

    The only issue I have is that the VM keeps wanting the XP SP2 disk because the Microsoft AC Adapter is a new piece of hardware.

    Any idea how to clear that up?


  14. After extracting the vhd by running the exe from MS in windows, Brandon Beacher’s tip above also works to create vmdk images for use with fusion. Just use Brandon’s tip with modified command line options that correspond to your instructions in point 3 above (for simplicity I removed the spaces from the .vhd filename first):

    /Applications/ convert -O vmdk -f vpc XPSP2withIE6.vhd XPSP2withIE6.vmdk

    It can then be used in Fusion.

  15. Hey,
    To brandon et all asking about unzipping the VPC.EXE files on Mac OS X, I successfully did it, just rename the file to .zip instead of .exe, and then I had to use a program I found called Zipeg, which worked(StuffIt didnt work.) Zipeg is free luckily.
    Hope that helps.

  16. I’m going through this process for the second time, as the expiration date on the virtual machines has finally passed.

    First, Craig’s tip about Zipeg worked for me. This is awesome, because now there’s no need for an existing Windows installation to get up and running for testing on IE.

    Second, I got on the “Microsoft AC Adapter” treadmill like Trevor mentions. A simple solution is to remove it using Device Manager. No more prompts!

    Finally, I’m going the VHD to VMDK route this time, to skip the need for creating and compressing the VDI file. I’m hoping the VMDK support in VirtualBox is more stable than when Jeremy first tried it.

  17. I’ve just finished up. I have a couple of clarifications here.

    You actually need to disable, rather than remove the AC Adapter to get the prompting to go away.

    I’ve upgraded to VirtualBox 1.6.2, and I don’t know if it is the new version, or what, but I kept getting prompted for AMD PCNet ethernet adapter. I had to manually specify the driver (using the “Have Disk” option) and browse to the AMD_PCnet folder on the VBOXADDITIONS cd (which was mounted as D: on my virtual machine).

    This got networking up and running, but it seems like the card was detected automatically when I did this a few months ago.

  18. I tried to get this to work with the Windows XP SP2 with IE6 and IE7 images (the ones for testing websites with IE6 and 7) and VirtualBox under Ubuntu Linux. Everything works fine, except that I needed to change the IDE Controller Type of the virtual machine to PIIX4 instead of PIIX3. With PIIX3 the machine would not boot properly, hanging with a blue screen when Windows tried to load.

  19. The bad news: Apparently this has become harder, either due to changes in Fusion (I’m using 2.0 beta 2) or the current set of images provided by Microsoft. A bunch of drivers are missing, one of which (USBUI.DLL) can’t be found by the Find New Hardware Wizard, even with an install CD, since it’s buried in DRIVERS.CAB. There’s also a Windows XP bug you’ll have to work around (Find New Hardware doesn’t see files even when it’s looking right at them).

    The good news: You can unpack the .EXE right in OS X now, without even going through the GUI of Zipeg; Zipeg’s based on p7zip, which means there’s a command-line version, which means you can script it if you want.

    I wrote up an initial doc on the VMware community site. There are an awful lot of steps, so if anyone knows any shortcuts or workarounds, please contribute…

  20. To avoid cost of additional licenses, you could also use the new “Multiple snapshots” feature in VMware Fusion 2 Beta 2 (which works just like VMware Workstation in this regard), and create snapshots each with IE6, IE7 and IE8. Since it’s the same installation of Windows, you only have to pay for 1 license of Windows (which I suppose you already have). You would be able to run only one configuration (snapshot) at a time, though.

  21. I used cabextract to decompress the EXEs. I then used Q’s qemu-img to convert the vhds. That all went fine using only my Mac.

    However, when I attempt to boot the newly created image in VirtualBox 2.0.2 the virtual machine entered a blue screen loop. I was able to boot into safe mode and get the additions installed; now when the virtual machine boots I just get garbage on the screen.

    Anyone solve this yet?

  22. @thebobert, I saw this happening recently too, and wrote about it ( — I could get the IE7 image booting but the IE6 one was blue-screening. If you can get the one running there’s hope. Once you’ve got the converted IE7 image setup in VirtualBox, run (substituting appropiate image names):

    VBoxManage clonevdi xpie7.vdi xpie6.vdi

    Then setup that second copy in VirtualBox as an “IE6” instance. Boot into it and just Uninstall IE7 (ie, Add/Remove Programs) — they’ve left the necessary backup files in place so it’ll fall back on IE6.



  23. I have installed IE8 on my pc. It is giving me lots of problem. I think they have not extend all feature from IE7. Cuz many layout and ajax related issues coming on IE8 which are working perfectly on IE7 and FF2. How could I install IE7 and working as dual.

  24. @thebobert:

    Here’s how I was able to solve the BSOD issue with the XP IE7 virtual machine.

    – Press fn+F8 to see boot options
    – Select Disable restart on error (paraphrased)
    – See what file is affected (mine was processr.sys)
    – Restart
    – Get into Safe Made with command prompt
    – cd to /WINDOWS/system32/drivers
    – ren AFFECTED_FILE_NAME.EXT AFFECTED_FILE_NAME.old (I did ren processr.sys processr.old)
    – Restart


  25. I tried this with Virtual Box 2.0.4 on Mac OS X 10.5. I didn’t even have to convert the VHD, VirtualBox was able to use it just fine.

    I was getting a BSOD when I booted, but Jorge’s steps to fix that above worked, thanks!

    So, my steps were:
    – Download .exe from Microsoft and rename with a .zip extension
    – Download Zipeg (Thanks Craig Brunner!) to extract above Zip file.
    – Create new VirtualBox machine, point it at the extracted VHD above for it’s HDD.
    – Follow Jorge’s steps above to get past the BSOD.
    – Install VirtualBox addons.

    Thanks folks, very useful stuff in both the blog post & the comments.

  26. [HVGVT-65] Test der Anwendung auf dem Internet explorer….

    Ohne Mac kann ich nix analysieren. * Alternative damit ihr vorankommt:
    * ihr installiert XP von CD in eine VM (ActionPack-CDs habt ihr? Wenn nicht kann ich sie euch schicken/vorbeibringen)
    * Hier wird anschaulich beschrieben wie man zeitlimitierte I….

  27. I got everything to work great so far. Thanks everyone for helpful hints to errors in the comments.

    I have IE6 running on my mac pro intel 10.5 but I can’t figure out how to get it to connect to my wireless internet. Should I try to track down a copy of Windows somewhere? Or will it only work with ethernet connection?

  28. You can also extract EXEs on the Mac using the command line version of WinRAR ( The command I used is ./unrar x IE7-XPSP3.exe – worked great!

  29. Easier than the process shown in the article, is just to run IE natively on OSX using “CrossOver Mac”, no separate boot, no need for windows or a windows license.

  30. The problem with Crossover is that it only supports IE6.

    I got the method described above working today on my Mac mini running Leopard with Virtualbox. I never had to use any other machine to perform any of the required steps.

    The cool thing is that you can downgrade from IE7 to 6 by uninstalling IE7 and you can upgrade to IE8 by downloading & installing it. So you really only need to download & convert the IE7 image. You can then duplicate this image two times yourself and use these to create 3 seperate virtual machines for all IE-versions.

    My job is web application development, so I have to test my projects under most popular browsers, like Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Google Chrome.
    Firefox, Opera, GoogleChrome work great under my Ubuntu Box, and the other once work under Wine.
    *Internet Explorer*. It’s pain to setup IE6 and IE7, because you can take a look of many bugs with render html and vml.

    Just forget Wine for the purpose!
    Microsoft give us FREE virtual PC images with IE6, IE7, IE8 aboard!
    Don’t you believe?

  32. Thanks alot for this detailed procedure. It’s much more comfortable running the VMs in one tool than having more tools like Virtual Box. Just didn’t found a source to get the VHDs up and running for VMWare Fusion. But works fine now!

  33. Just wanted to let you know. Safari 4(beta) has a new menu. Use Develop>User Agent>Internet Explorer. It works great!I haven’t seen it posted yet, so I hope this helps!

  34. To extract the ms IE7-XPSP3.exe file on mac os x 10.5, I did:

    1) install macports
    2) in terminal$ sudo port install wine-devel
    3) in terminal$ wine $”IE7-XPSP3.exe”

    When prompted by wine to install gecko I said yes. I tried with the Vista .exe file first & it failed, then tried with XP exe & it worked.

    4) I then moved the extracted file to “/Users/yourusername/Library/VirtualBox/HardDisks/XP SP3 with IE7 2008-Dec.vhd”

    5) Started up VirtualBox (v2.1.4), created a new machine & selected the “XP SP3 with IE7 2008-Dec.vhd” file as the hdd

    6) adjusted some settings & started the new virtual machine
    7) at any prompts for the WinXP Pro SP3 CD I just hit cancel
    8) rebooted virtual machine, installed guest additions, rebooted… it was still asking for CD so I inserted a copy of XP pro I had (no service pack) & mounted the drive – I have no key for the CD though…

    …now it seems to be working… (I’m running windows update at the moment). I’m sure this could be refined, but it’s what worked for me. I’m used wired network – no apparent probs w/ internet yet.

    Thanks a bunch for this very valuable info on this page!

    – Leo

  35. P.S. I used wine to extract the exe’s because wasn’t working for the vista image I was originally trying to extract

  36. Anyone had any luck actually getting this to work with the Vista image? WinXP IE6 & IE7 work fine but Vista IE8 gives me a BSOD when I try to boot it.

  37. Hi there,

    What do we do once the VPC images expire? I have downloaded everything only to find these are time limited. Any workaround?



  38. @Andrew, I believe the “User Agent” switching in Safari just changes how your browser shows up in the server logs, or changes the code accordingly if there are any user agent dependencies in it.

  39. the discussion above helped a lot, but it was a bit simpler for me than i expected using VMware Fusion 2.0.4 on Mac OS X 10.4.11; perhaps the image available from Microsoft has been updated, or VMware is better …

    first i downloaded and extracted the IE7 for XPsp3 vm as above (i actually extracted the vm using Windows 7 rc in Fusion); i then used Q and the command detailed by jakob; then i created a new VMware Fusion VM and booted … initially got a lot of “found new hardware” blabber; i had to cancel through most of because the VM couldn’t connect to the internet; then i installed VMware tools; after restart, network access was up, so the “found new hardware” tasks could (and did) download the drivers for each piece of “hardware”

    now IE7 is running beautifully so i can see what a mess it makes of my CSS …

  40. I did exactly the same as Steve on VMware fusion 2.0.4. Super easy. Just cancel past all the “insert windows xp cd” messages. Then install vmware tools and reboot.

  41. Hi,

    nice article, thank you for this! I’ve doenloaded the “IE6-XPSP3.exe” from:

    But it seems to be expire end of this month? 🙁

    Internet Explorer Virtual PC ReadMe ============================
    This image will expire on August 31, 2009. At that time the Operating System will no longer boot, and you will be locked out of the VHD. Please ensure you back up any relevant data before August 31, 2009.

    The Administrator and IETester passwords are P2ssw0rd .
    The image was up to date as of April 22, 2009.

    Any ideas, if Microsoft will offer a valid version again after this to test websites on IE6?

  42. Hi,

    Thanks for the nice article.

    I downloaded the IE6-XPSP3.exe file from the mentioned URL.
    The article didn’t mention it, but the image asks for a product activation key. Is that as intended? Did I do something wrong while installing it?

    Thanks in advance for any replies.

  43. I have the same problem as Michael concerning the activation. I just installed the IE7-XP package and it’s asking for activation.
    I didn’t have this problem with the previous install, that expired at the end of August.

  44. I had this problem as well… but then I found this article… I’m not sure if there is a (legal) way around it other than supplying your own Windows key if you have one.

  45. Here is another forum post about it… no way around it as of yet.

  46. I read through your article (great work by the way!) and the user comments before embarking on this lil journey 🙂 I was able to used StuffIt to expand the vpc files and get the vhd files extracted.. and I used Qwmu on Mac to convert the files properly without a hitch.

    I installed VMware Fusion 2.0.4 (i beleive – current as of today) and went about creating new VMs, one for IE7 and one for IE8.. got them created and had a mass of ‘driver search’ dialogs pop up, stating that it needed the Win XP Pro disc to install properly.. skipped them, just to get the VM running and installed VM Tools which went well.

    After restarting the VM the Winblows Genuine Advantage notice changed from ‘activate within 3 days’,.. to activate NOW before you can login !!

    So, I went to the IE8 VM and set it up.. and it’s asking for the same ‘missing’ files (CmBatt.sys, AMD PCNET Family PCI Ethernet Adapter, and so on) which are no where to be found…

    Any help on this would be great.. it would be nice to be able to simply run IE7 and IE8 within a VM and NOT have to also load Winblows onto the Mac.

    Thanks again for the great article.. I’ll be checking back in case anyone has some fixes for these issues!


  47. Try something like browsercam, they have different enviroments and the subscribition fee is not that bad. Get the best of both worlds (for mac users and pc users)

  48. BTW, Browserlab, by Adobe, is the CLOSEST thing I have found, FOR FREE, that makes life easier as a Mac developer having to compensate for IE’s shortcomings.. great service.


    From PeteL’s post here:

    The latest VPC images that seem to be available now, as per the IE twitter page:
    “Forgot to post the VPCs are up.
    –8:54 AM May 3rd from Echofon

    were from back in May…. as per the IE VPCs page here:

    The now posted VPCs were uploaded on 08/24/2009

    Has anyone tried THIS release of VPC ?? Are you also getting the ‘Auth’ issues? Oddly enough, the images I have, are dated Sept. 20th… 😕

  49. Not too much longer (since the current VPC images expire on Jan 01, 2010) we should be seeing M$ release the new, updated VPCs and we’ll see what their stance is on developing for IE – either they adjust the VPCs to run without activation, or they require you to buy a Winblows license to run IE VPCs… interested to see what they do, aren’t you? 😀

  50. I solved this by installing Remote Desktop Client from Microsoft in my mackbook and connect to a windows desktop for testing my sites.

  51. I second MarcPires, though I’m using Develop on a webserver somewhere, and have a PC at home running windows I can VNC to from my mac. Maybe a little roundabout, but it takes the setup hassle out of things.

  52. Maybe you could change the page subject title
    Running IE6, IE7 and IE8 on your Mac — The Mozmonkey Blog
    to something more generic for your webpage you make. I enjoyed the blog post withal.

  53. It would be good to note, here that if you download the IE8 for XP, from MS, using a mac, they won’t give you the full file. MS withholds the last few K so that the file is corrupted. Hopefully someone will mirror the PC version somewhere so that you can actually download and use it. I recommend setting up IE6 or 7 and then going to the site listed above to d/l IE8. PCs and Macs are like Dems and Repubs aren’t they? “His fault” “No it’s his!”