How to Convert Bootable ISO File to Virtual Disk VHD/VMDK

If you frequently use VirtualBox , one of the best free virtual machine software, then you should know how to convert an ISO file into a VirtualBox hard disk (VHD). The process of converting is also more difficult than booting Virtual from the ISO file, instead of using an xx.iso file and then converting it to a Virtual disk. It's very helpful, especially when you want to customize the image file or use it for testing. In this guide today, we'll walk you through how to convert a bootable ISO file into VHD or VMDK using Command line. This tutorial will be both for Mac and Windows computers.

ISO file is the most widely-used format for OS installation. While you can still use the ISO file to directly start up any OS on virtual disk image like VirtualBox, VMWare, if you do not want to install ISO file, converting it to VDI format (Virtual desktop infrastructure) will be the best idea. You can consider the pre conversion way to directly convert an ISO file into an VHD/ VMDK using VirtualBox. You can convert:

After the conversion, you can directly boot the operating system from VHD/VMDK . Here is how to use Command line tool on Windows 10 and MacOS. It's also the same for Linux OS.

Convert Bootable ISO File to Virtual Disk VHD/VMDK on Windows

Before proceeding, make sure you have the VirtualBox software already installed on your computer. It can be downloaded for free since it's open source tool. We'll get started with Windows computers by converting ISO file to VMDK.

Step 1: Open Command Prompt (Powershell) on your Windows computer. Run it with administrator

Step 2: Go to the VirtualBox directory in C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox. From there, open cmd and run the following command:

cd Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox

Step 3: In the VirtualBox directory, run the command to convert ISO to VMDK:

VBoxManage convertfromraw [file.iso] [file.VMDK]

You should replace the filename.ISO with the name of the IOS file, along with file patch

Step 4: In our circumstance, the ISO file is on the Desktop, and the name of the ISO file was system.iso. You can follow the command below:

VBoxManage Convertfromraw C:\USers\Jack\Desktop\system.iso


The file path in the command above is the file path where the ISO file is. You can use Windows Explorer to find the patch from the Address bar.

Steps to Convert ISO to VHD

Similar to converting ISO to VMDK, changing it into VHD is pretty simple.

Step 1: Run Command prompt (cmd) on your computer with administrator.

Step 2: Switch to the VirtualBox directory on your Windows computer.

Step 3: Once done, enter the following command:

VirtualBox convertfromraw file.iso file.vhd

Step 4: Then, continue to enter the command above:

VBoxManage Convertfromraw C:\USers\Jack\Desktop\system.iso

The only change here is that instead of writing VMDK, you enter VHD for replacement.

Convert Bootable ISO File to Virtual Disk VHD/VMDK on Mac

Converting a bootable ISO into a Virtual disk VHD/VMDK on Mac is almost the same with Windows. All you need is to open Terminal on your Mac and run commands. However, as mentioned earlier, you need to have VirtualBox app already installed on your Mac. Otherwise, you are unable to convert the ISO file to VHD/VMDK.

Step 1: Open Terminal on Mac by clicking on Finder > Applications > Favorites > Disk Utilities. You can also open it from the Spotlight.

Step 2: Type in the following command on your Mac and hit Enter:

VBoxManage convertfromraw DiskImage.iso VirtualDisk.vhd

For instance, if you want to convert the file into a virtualbox VHD file, simply enter the command below:

VBoxManage convertfromraw ~/Downloads/system.iso ~/VMs/system.vhd

Step 3: All the conversion process will take a few minutes, depending on the hardware of your Mac. Once again, you can use those commands on MacOS, Windows, Linux OS with typing in the ‘VBoxManage' command first.

Remember to capitalize the "VBoxManage" and use correct capitalization to avoid "not found" result after typing in the command since the problem comes from syntax error.

Another useful trick is to prepare a live disk, or create an ISO image with the help of command line. After you can convert it into VHD and then load it into VirtualBox. Alternatively, you can take the existing ISO files and then convert it into a VHD file, which is better for system admins.


That's how to convert a bootable ISO file to Virtual disk VHD/VMDK. All the entire process is pretty simple and you can do it on your own. You might feel the commands are complicated, but in fact, you simply copy them into cmd/Terminal and make some changes. Do you know other methods to convert a bootable ISO file or a disk image into a VirtualBox VHD/VMDK? Let's know in the comment below.