The Garmin Sim on a Mac

Here’s how to run the Garmin 430/530 (400 and 500 series simulators) on a Mac / Apple computer, a newer version of Windows or even Linux.


The free trainers offered on Garmin’s website are great tools to anyone who might use a 400 or 500 series unit.  Whether you are new to these systems and want an introduction, or maybe a flight instructor wanting to show students, the Garmin simulators are fantastic!

These simulators (for Windows) are available for free and can be found on Garmins website here.

Unfortunately, these programs are not compatible with all types of computers and operating systems. So, the following is how to best install them on a Mac, Linux, or newer Windows computer.


The Garmin simulators on Windows Vista, 7, 8, or 10

The normal 430 or 530 simulators will not run on a Windows Vista computer or newer (Windows 7, 8, 10, etc.).  As noted by Garmin: “Windows XP Operating System required” and they are “not compatible with Windows Vista or Windows 7 Operating Systems”.

The easiest solution is to download the WAAS 400W/500W simulator which is compatible with “Windows XP or later operating system”.  


After downloading and installing, select from the options menu the type of unit you need to simulate.

The functionality on the WASS units (430W, 530W) are similar enough to to the non-WAAS 430 and 530 units that they should fit your needs just fine.




Running the Simulators on a Mac OS-X (or Linux)

Here is the easiest way to run the Garmin sim on your Apple or linux computer. With this method I was able to get the Garmin 430 trainer up and running on my Macbook Pro within within about 30 minutes! The only time consuming part is downloading ~4.1GB of files.

It just takes 3 quick steps:

  1. Download and install VirtualBox
  2. Download and install a free Windows Virtual Machine
  3. Within the virtual machine, download and install the Garmin Sim


1.  Download and install VirtualBox

You need a free program called VirtualBox to create a “virtual” Windows computer on your Mac.  Here are the steps:

Visit the VirtualBox website.

Download “VirtualBox platform packages” for “OS X Host”.


Install VirtualBox just like any other program – Double click on the VirtualBox.pkg icon and follow the on screen installation prompts



2.  Download and run a free Windows Virtual Machine from Microsoft

Microsoft gives out free versions of windows for web developers and programmers to download and test their software on. The only catch is that they have a 90 day trial limit. However even Microsoft themselves suggest that you create a “SnapShot” in VirtualBox in order to simply keep resetting this 90 day trial when the time comes.

Visit Microsoft’s website and download a free virtual machine

Chose “IE8 on Win7” or whichever version you prefer, and select “VirtualBox” for the platform, and download it.

When the download completes, double click on the the file “IE8 – Win7.ova” and it will automatically bring up VirtualBox and begin loading the virtual Windows machine.

The standard “Appliance settings” should be just fine (depending on your computer) and you can just select “Import”.

When VirtualBox finishes loading the Windows machine, Start the machine, and boot into Windows.

Within windows you should now be able to access Wifi and download and install the Garmin Sim from their website within the host Windows machine.  That’s It!  You’re up and running!

Also, don’t forget to create a “Snapshot” of your virtual machine to easily reset the windows trial period. Microsoft even recommends doing this.

Go to the upper right-hand corner that says “Snapshot”

Then click the little blue camera to create a new snapshot. It will ask you to name it, I named mine “New Install with Garmin”. Click “OK” and the snapshot will be created.

When the time comes to reset windows just come back, right-click, and “Restore Snapshot”.

4 thoughts on “The Garmin Sim on a Mac

  1. Mike

    Greetings Fellow Pilot,
    I just downloaded the 400w500w tariner on my pc laptop and work pc both running widows 10. The GPS fubction of the sim works fine but if I dial up anything on nvloc I just get the Nav flag and no navigation capability. Do you happen to know why?
    Thanks a million in advance,
    Mike K

    1. PerfectedFlight Post author

      Hi Mike! I’m not sure why the CDI/VLOC doesn’t work in the Garmin sim. The 400W/500W trainer on my computer is the same way. My best guess is that Garmin didn’t program it to work with NAV functionality – Only GPS.

  2. Brujo

    I’m betting this won’t help on an iPad…

    …but I’ll play around with it, maybe it will. Or perhaps the Raspberry Pi. Worst case I’ll clutter up the MacBook with it.

    1. PerfectedFlight Post author

      I don’t think this will work with an iPad. It really doesn’t clutter up your MacBook though… Well worth it in my opinion.


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