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How To Install Kali Linux on VirtualBox in Mac OSX (One-Click Install)

Today you'll learn step by step how to install Kali Linux on VirtualBox in Mac OSX using a Virtualbox image of Kali.

While this tutorial is done using a Mac, the process for PC (windows) users should be similar.

There are three ways you can install Kali Linux:

  • Virtual Machine (Current)Install as a virtual machine on your current system
    Difficulty: Easy
  • Dual Boot: Install alongside your current operating system
    Difficulty: Complicated
  • Create Bootable USB: Install on a USB drive/stick.
    Difficulty: Easy

I'll be showing you how to install it on a virtual machine, more specifically, on Virtualbox.

What is VirtualBox?

VirtualBox is a free, open-source software for running virtual machines (VM).

With VirtualBox, you can run multiple operating systems of different kinds such as Windows, Mac OSX, Solaris or Linux.

Virtual machines allow you to experiment with different operating systems and programs.

Virtual machines are also used for creating and experimenting with different forms of malware. This is because nothing can travel outside a VM unless you allow it in the configuration settings.


Avoid downloading and opening random files from the internet. If you really have to, open the file inside a VM as this will prevent an infection from spreading in case the file contains a virus.

In addition, VMs allow you to take snapshots (or restore points) and roll back whenever disaster strikes or if something breaks.

Pros & Cons of Using Virtual Machines

  • You can run multiple operating systems on top of your current system.
  • It's easy to create snapshots, and even easier to roll back.
  • You can assign how much resources your VM will use.
  • You have the ability to export an existing VM and import it to another computer.
  • Since VMs have limited resources, performance is heavily impacted.
  • Installing an OS can sometimes be problematic for inexperienced users.
  • It often requires a lot of troubleshooting and learning (which is good, am I right?)
  • Wireless USB adapters sometimes aren't recognized or doesn't work.

Other paid alternatives to VirtualBox include: VMware and Parallels.

Most of the tutorials I've seen online show you how to install Kali (using an .ISO). This method might be complicated for beginners, but it is preferred if you want to install Kali Linux from scratch.

If you're just interested in using a few tools every now and then, installing Kali from a Virtualbox image (.ova) is much easier.

Plus, there's not much configuration required from your end using this method. You simply start the VM and you're good to go!

Here's what you'll need to get started:


  • Virtualbox - Free, open-source software for running virtual machines
  • Kali Linux - Kali Linux VirtualBox Image (.ova)
  • 1. Download & Install VirtualBox

    The first step is to download and install VirtualBox.

    1. Go to the download page on the VirtualBox website.
    2. Download "OS X hosts" (for Mac users), AND the extension pack, which will add additional functionality.
    download virtualbox osx

    2. Download Kali Linux VirtualBox Image

    Next, we need to download a VirtualBox image of Kali Linux.

    1. Go to the download page, then select "Kali Linux VirtualBox Images"
    2. Select the very top image "Kali Linux 64 bit VBox"
    kali linux virtualbox image download

    What is Kali Linux light?

    The "Light" version of Kali consists only of the top 10 tools pre-installed (and not the full set which consists of hundreds of tools).

    The light version is ideal if you only need a specific subset of tools (i.e. wireless).

    You can still choose to install any tool, subset or the full set at any time.

    I personally always go with Kali Light because, from my experience, the VM tends to crash more often (or slow down) if I have too many tools installed.

    Plus, why bother installing tools I won't even need?

    To learn more on how to install a specific set of tools, keep on reading.

    3. Install Kali Linux VirtualBox Image

    Once you have VirtualBox installed and the Kali image ready, now we need to import the image on VirtualBox.

    Here's how to import the (.ova) image on VirtualBox:

    1. On VirtualBox, go to File (top left) -> Import Appliance (or press CMD + i)
    2. Select the Kali (.ova) image. Then click Continue -> Import
    import appliance
    reinitialize mac address virtualbox

    3. Now start the virtual machine by clicking green button.

    start virtual machine

    The default login for kali is:
    username: root
    password: toor

    That's it! If you encountered any problems. Please comment below so I can try and help you.

    How To Install Kali Metapackages

    If you installed Kali Linux "Light", the following steps will show you how to install a specific subset (of tools you need).

    Metapackages are subsets, and within a subset is a set of tools designed to accomplish a specific task (i.e. password cracking).

    Here's how to install a specific subset:

    sudo apt-get install [package-name]

    Replace package-name with one of available Kali meta packages.

    Kali Linux Metapackages

    It should like like this:

    sudo apt-get install kali-linux-wireless

    How To Use VboxManage To Control VMs from the Command-Line

    VirtualBox has a command-line utility called VboxManage, which lets you control your virtual machine from the command-line of your Mac.

    With VboxManage, you can do things like start, stop, restart and power off a virtual machine. 

    To start using VboxManage, you need to make sure you have virtualbox extension pack installed.

    How to use VboxManage

    First, start the Terminal application on your Mac.

    Then, make sure vboxmanage is working properly by typing:


    You should then see a list of available commands you can use. I won't go through each one, just the basics.

    1. List all available VMs
    vboxmanage list vms
    2. List all currently running VMs
    vboxmanage list runningvms
    3. How to start a virtual machine Use the command from step 1 to find the name of your VM.
    vboxmanage startvm "name of vm"
    How to start a virtual machine as a headless instance (no GUI)
    vboxmanage startvm "name of vm" --type headless
    4. How to control a virtual machine (pause, resume, reset, poweroff, savestate)
    vboxmanage controlvm "name of vm" pause
    vboxmanage controlvm "name of vm" resume
    vboxmanage controlvm "name of vm" reset
    vboxmanage controlvm "name of vm" poweroff
    vboxmanage controlvm "name of vm" savestate

    related posts:

  • This is most likely because your Wifi Card is not supported by the OS. What Wifi Card do you have in your machine>

  • cannot import the kali linux in my system. displaying that failed to import, and showing error that
    Failed to import appliance /Users/apple/Downloads/kali-linux-2019-3-vbox-amd64-ova/kali-linux-2019.3-vbox-amd64.ova.

    Result Code: NS_ERROR_INVALID_ARG (0x80070057)

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