How to Install Kali Linux on a Mac

How to Install Kali Linux on a Mac


2 min read

Installing Kali Linux on a Mac can be a great way to access the popular penetration testing and ethical hacking Linux distribution while still benefiting from Mac's user-friendly interface.


  • A Mac with an Intel processor. Kali Linux does not currently support Apple silicon such as the M1 chip.

  • At least 35 GB of free storage space.

  • At least 4 GB of RAM. 8 GB or more is recommended.

Installation Options

There are a few different ways to install Kali Linux on a Mac:

Dual boot with macOS

Dual booting allows you to keep macOS while also running Kali Linux by partitioning your hard drive. Here are the steps:

  1. Back up your Mac in case anything gets overwritten during partitioning.

  2. Download the Kali .iso file and balenaEtcher.

  3. Use balenaEtcher to flash the Kali .iso onto a USB drive.

  4. Boot from the USB drive and launch the installer.

  5. Follow the prompts to install Kali Linux to a partition on your hard drive.

  6. When booting, hold OPTION to choose macOS or Kali.

Virtual machine with VirtualBox

For this method, you'll install VirtualBox and run Kali inside it without partitioning your drive.

  1. Download VirtualBox and the VirtualBox Extension Pack

  2. Install VirtualBox and the Extension Pack on your Mac

  3. Download the Kali Linux .iso file

  4. In VirtualBox, create a new virtual machine for Kali

  5. Select the Kali .iso as your virtual machine's virtual optical disk

  6. Run the new virtual machine and install Kali Linux onto it

The benefit of using a virtual machine is that Kali is separated from the rest of your system. The downside is that performance can slow down from the virtualization.

Virtual machine with VMware Fusion

The steps for installing Kali as a VMware virtual machine are very similar:

  1. Buy and install VMware Fusion.

  2. Download the Kali Linux .iso image.

  3. In VMware, create a new Kali virtual machine.

  4. Configure the virtual machine and select the Kali .iso.

  5. Boot the VM from the virtual optical drive and install Kali.

VMware offers better performance than VirtualBox but isn't free.

Using Kali Linux on Mac

Once Kali Linux is installed and running on your Mac via dual boot or a virtual machine, using it is very similar to using it on a regular Linux computer. Kali works best when using the command line terminal to access penetration testing tools. If graphical tools are needed, Kali also offers a simple XFCE environment to work in.

So get Kali Linux installed on your Mac and you'll have a versatile pen-testing distribution right on your machine alongside macOS.