Set up windows with virtualbox on a mac for free

I just recently found the joy of virtualbox. Now I can quickly test web sites in any version of IE with the click of a button. No more finding a pc, struggling with giving it access to my local network and wasting time switching between the two computers. I keep an instance of virtual box running in a desktop space on my mac so it is always just a swipe away. Lets get started.


After you download a copy of virtualbox from here, head over to

You will want to spend a bit of time here discovering best practices and ways to tackle older versions of ie. The real gold here are the virtual machines you can download.

You will most likely want a couple combinations of windows and IE. Follow the instructions. It took me a couple tries due to errors compiling the .rar files.

Once those are all downloaded, which may take a minute since they are about a gig a piece, run the source command on the .sfx file and create your virtual box image.

Congratulations, you now have a free windows virtual machine. A double click on the image will open virtualbox. You can run the machine right now but I wanted to do some configurations to make things run smoother.

1. More memory
Select your machine in virtual box and click on the settings tab. Go to system and select more memory. THe default was 8mb. Give it all you can spare. I gave it 4gb. You might want to bump up the processor while you are there.

2. Fire up the machine and install guest additions
While in the virtual machine, click on devices on the menu bar. Choose install guest additions. This will start a prompt in windows. Follow the instructions and restart. This is important because it now allows windows to utilize the full resolution of your screen. It also seemed to help with performance.

3. Caveats
After I installed the guest additions my internet stopped working in windows. I struggled to find the answer.
In the virtualbox application click on your machine, and click settings(same area for setting up more ram and processor power). Click on network. Choose NAT. It is very important to check the box “cable connected”. My internet was back!

Rinse and repeat for other combinations of IE and windows.

Browser stack is amazing if you have the budget.
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