GUIDE: Running TrueWow on MacOS Catalina or Big Sur (MacOS 10.15+)

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GUIDE: Running TrueWow on MacOS Catalina or Big Sur (MacOS 10.15+)

#1 » Post by makoto916 » 02 Nov 2020 03:02

For those of us who are MacOS users and TrueWow fans, the arrival of MacOS 10.15 Catalina brought the end to 32-bit support and, therefore, the death of the TrueWow MacOS client. WOTLK is simply not a 64-bit app, period; it never will be. Windows users will know this pain soon enough as Microsoft will drop support for 32-bit going forward. In theory, the fundamentals of this guide will apply to Windows users as well.

Until now, there was no way to run WOTLK on a modern Mac running 10.15 Catalina or Big Sur. Downgrading back to 10.14 Mojave was really the only viable free option, and completely impossible for any new Mac purchased in the past year due to the inability to downgrade. Fortunately, VMWare has released "VMWare Fusion Player" for free allowing all Catalina or Big Sur users to run Windows virtual machines.

I'm sharing the steps I used to viably play TrueWow WOTLK client on my Mac running MacOS 10.15.

1) First, you need to download a Windows virtual machine. Microsoft provides a completely free Virtual Machine of Windows 7 for free here: ... tools/vms/

The choice of OS is up to you; but for my money (which is zero), the Windows 7 IE11 VM provided by Modern.IE does the trick. If you wish to keep running this free edition of Windows past 90 days, you are supposed to, at a minimum, delete and reinstall. Respect Microsoft's license. Can you use Windows 10? Absolutely. In this case, use the 32-bit version of Windows 10 or a 64-bit version that you won't be patching to later editions that remove support for 32-bit.

2) Second, acquire a VMWare Fusion Player free license from here.

You will need to register for a VMWare account, which is free, to obtain a license. You'll receive your free registration code via email. Setting up VMWare is beyond the scope of this guide; but if you need help, VMWare provides documentation here:

3) Now that everything is downloaded, expand the ZIP file downloaded from modern.IE (note: it will take quite a while at around 14GB). Choose File -> Import from the VMWare fusion Virtual Machine Library menu. Click "Choose File" and select the OVF file from the zip archive; mine was "IE11-Win7-VMWare.ovf".

4) Click Continue and choose a place on your disk to store the VM. Note that you should pick a reasonably fast drive, ideally your SSD, to install this. You'll need at least 30GB of space free.

5) You WILL get an error that says "The Import Failed because . . . (it) did not pass OVF specification conformance or virtual hardware compliance checks." This is fine. Click Retry and the import will proceed. Note that the import will take quite some time depending on the speed of your Mac and drive.

6) Once the import is complete, do not click "Finish", click Customize Settings instead because we have some settings to tweak. VMWare has plenty of documentation on the low-level details of Fusion, so I won't be covering all the whys behind the whats.

7) In the Settings Menu, choose "Processors & Memory". Only use 1 processor. I have tried running WOTLK at 1, 2, and 4 processors. I noticed absolutely no FPS benefit and, frankly, at 4 processors it actually just slowed the whole machine down. For Memory, I recommend 3072 MB for RAM if you have an 8GB Mac and 4096 MB if you have a 16GB (or more) Mac. If you have a 4GB Mac you really should simply stay on Mojave.

8) Click Display. Enable "Accelerate 3D Graphics". Set Battery Life to "Always Use High Performance Graphics". Running WOTLK on your Macbook's battery isn't going to last long no matter what you set here. Set "Shared Graphics Memory" to 128MB if you have an 8GB Mac and 256MB if you have a 16GB Mac. Setting any more is a waste and only puts more pressure on your host resources. Finally, for "Virtual Machine Resolution", I prefer to set both Single and Full screen to "Stretch the Virtual Machine in the Window." This way I can enter and exit full screen without causing Windows and WOTLK to flip out.

9) Click into Network Adapter. Make sure that "Connect Network Adapter" is selected and use "Share with my mac" unless you know what you're doing with networking.

10) Click into Hard Disk. The default size is 40GB, this is fine. Feel free to change it as you wish. Leave the interface as the default "SCSI" unless you know what you're doing.

11) If you do not see a "Sound Card" icon, click "Add Device", choose "Sound Card" from the list, and click "Add". Make sure "Connect Sound Card" is checked and you can leave Output Device and Input Device as "System Default", unless you know what you're doing of course.

12) Final step is to close settings, click VMWare Fusion from the Apple menu and choose Preferences. In General -> Gaming, set it to "Always Optimize Mouse for Games". This step is very important. If you forget this step, when you attempt to change your orientation in the game, it will go absolutely nuts.

13) Now you're ready to start your VM. Give it a bit to boot and let Windows 7 do it's thing detecting things. If you get a pop-up asking you to restart, go ahead and do that until the VM boots fully without pop-ups. Then, click "Virtual Machine" from the Apple menu and choose "Install VMWare Tools". You will be prompted after a minute or so (It's Windows 7, give it time) to install VMWare Tools. Just Next, Next, Next your way through, all defaults are fine. Reboot once this is done.

14) Final step, you can now drag the ZIP file of your TrueWow Windows client in, unzip, and setup WOTLK as normal. As you setup WOTLK, make sure the resolution matches the resolution of your Windows 7 guest for optimal performance.

Ok! You're done. It's a lot of steps, but it's worth it in the long run. On my Mac (specs are below), I routinely get between 90 and 200 frames per second. Is this perfect? No, but it's darn close. Any mac made in the last 3 to 4 years should be able to use this method to run TrueWow WOTLK with no problem, with at least 30 FPS, and at no cost whatsoever.

Hope this guide helps you! Please comment below with questions, thoughts, updates, criticisms, etc.


0) The specs of my Mac are as follows: Macbook Pro (16-inch 2019), 2.6 GHz 6-Core Intel Core i7, 16GB 2667 MHz DDR4 RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 5300M 4GB.

1) I recommend against trying to run your TrueWow client on a USB or removable drive that you attach to the VM via USB emulation. This introduces unnecessary IO for both your client and host and will result in slower frame rates. Your mileage may vary. However, I HAVE had success in installing the VM files directly on a USB 3.0 attached hard drive.

2) I recommend against assigning more RAM than 3072 MB to your Windows 7 VM. First, Win7 32bit can't address past 4096 MB of RAM anyway. Assigning more RAM just adds pressure to your own host Mac's RAM. You're looking for the best balance of performance here; therefore, unless you've got gobs of RAM it's a waste to go past 3GB. If you have a 16GB or more Mac, 4096 is fine but that's the absolute max, anymore is a total waste.

3) I do recommend enabling Shared Folders and sharing folders between your Mac Host and the Win7 Guest. This will make things a lot more convenient when you need to do things like install plugins.

4) Whatever you do, DO NOT TRY TO BROWSE THE WEB WITH IE11 on WINDOWS 7. You're asking for trouble. See note #3 above. Browse the Web on your Mac Host, and transfer files easily with the Shared Folder feature.

5) Enabling "Optimize Mouse for Games" makes it so your mouse is locked into the VM, even if you are in Windowed mode. To release your mouse, press Control + Command and you'll be able to move the mouse out of the VM window.

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Re: GUIDE: Running TrueWow on MacOS Catalina or Big Sur (MacOS 10.15+)

#2 » Post by Tavi » 13 May 2021 20:01

Wouldn't it be easier to just use wine? I can't really imagine how well it will run in a VM without any VFIO passthrough.

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Re: GUIDE: Running TrueWow on MacOS Catalina or Big Sur (MacOS 10.15+)

#3 » Post by makoto916 » 13 May 2021 23:08

I wish that were the case, but WINE will not convert 32bit to 64bit architecture and since from Catalina onward MacOS is 64bit only, WINE can’t run 32bit anymore.

The good news is that on any reasonably modern Mac hardware, VMWare runs excellent. I play near daily on my 2019 Macbook and routinely have >100fps. Even better is that my method above still works for a totally free way to run TrueWoW.

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