Install Docker Toolbox on macOS

Legacy desktop solution. Docker Toolbox is for older Mac and Windows systems that do not meet the requirements of Docker for Mac and Docker for Windows. We recommend updating to the newer applications, if possible.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Docker Toolbox provides a way to use Docker on older Macs that do not meet minimal system requirements for Docker for Mac.

If you have not done so already, download the installer here:

Get Docker Toolbox for Mac

What you get and how it works

Docker Toolbox includes the following Docker tools:

  • Docker CLI client for running Docker Engine to create images and containers
  • Docker Machine so you can run Docker Engine commands from macOS terminals
  • Docker Compose for running the docker-compose command
  • Kitematic, the Docker GUI
  • the Docker QuickStart shell preconfigured for a Docker command-line environment
  • Oracle VM VirtualBox

Because the Docker Engine daemon uses Linux-specific kernel features, you can’t run Docker Engine natively on macOS with Docker Toolbox. Instead, you must use the Docker Machine command, docker-machine, to create and attach to a small Linux VM on your machine. This VM hosts Docker Engine for you on your Mac.

Tip: One of the advantages of the newer Docker for Mac solution is that it uses native virtualization and does not require VirtualBox to run Docker.

Step 1: Check your version

Your Mac must be running macOS 10.8 “Mountain Lion” or newer to run Docker software. To find out what version of the OS you have:

  1. Choose About this Mac from the Apple menu.

    The version number appears directly below the words macOS.

  2. If you have the correct version, go to the next step.

    If you aren’t using a supported version, you could consider upgrading your operating system.

    If you have macOS 10.10.3 Yosemite or newer, consider using Docker for Mac instead. It runs natively on the Mac, so there is no need for a pre-configured Docker QuickStart shell. It uses the native macOS Hypervisor framework for virtualization, instead of Oracle VirutalBox. Full install prerequisites are provided in the Docker for Mac topic in Docker for Mac.

Step 2: Install Docker Toolbox

  1. Install Docker Toolbox by double-clicking the package or by right-clicking and choosing “Open” from the pop-up menu.

    The installer launches an introductory dialog, followed by an overview of what’s installed.

    Install Docker Toolbox

  2. Press Continue to install the toolbox.

    The installer presents you with options to customize the standard installation.

    Standard install

    By default, the standard Docker Toolbox installation:

    • installs binaries for the Docker tools in /usr/local/bin
    • makes these binaries available to all users
    • updates any existing Virtual Box installation

    For now, don’t change any of the defaults.

  3. Press Install to perform the standard installation.

    The system prompts you for your password.

    Password prompt

  4. Provide your password to continue with the installation.

    When it completes, the installer provides you with some shortcuts. You can ignore this for now and click Continue.


    Then click Close to finish the installer.

    All finished

Step 3: Verify your installation

To run a Docker container, you:

  • create a new (or start an existing) Docker Engine host running
  • switch your environment to your new VM
  • use the docker client to create, load, and manage containers

Once you create a machine, you can reuse it as often as you like. Like any Virtual Box VM, it maintains its configuration between uses.

  1. Open the Launchpad and locate the Docker Quickstart Terminal icon.


  2. Click the icon to launch a Docker Quickstart Terminal window.

    The terminal does a number of things to set up Docker Quickstart Terminal for you.

     Last login: Sat Jul 11 20:09:45 on ttys002
     bash '/Applications/Docker Quickstart'
     Get http:///var/run/docker.sock/v1.19/images/json?all=1&filters=%7B%22dangling%22%3A%5B%22true%22%5D%7D: dial unix /var/run/docker.sock: no such file or directory. Are you trying to connect to a TLS-enabled daemon without TLS?
     Get http:///var/run/docker.sock/v1.19/images/json?all=1: dial unix /var/run/docker.sock: no such file or directory. Are you trying to connect to a TLS-enabled daemon without TLS?
     -bash: lolcat: command not found
     mary at meepers in ~
     $ bash '/Applications/Docker Quickstart'
     Creating Machine dev...
     Creating VirtualBox VM...
     Creating SSH key...
     Starting VirtualBox VM...
     Starting VM...
     To see how to connect Docker to this machine, run: docker-machine env dev
     Starting machine dev...
     Setting environment variables for machine dev...
                             ##         .
                       ## ## ##        ==
                    ## ## ## ## ##    ===
                /"""""""""""""""""\___/ ===
           ~~~ {~~ ~~~~ ~~~ ~~~~ ~~~ ~ /  ===- ~~~
                \______ o           __/
                  \    \         __/
     The Docker Quick Start Terminal is configured to use Docker with the "default" VM.
  3. Click your mouse in the terminal window to make it active.

    If you aren’t familiar with a terminal window, here are some quick tips.


    The prompt is traditionally a $ dollar sign. You type commands into the command line which is the area after the prompt. Your cursor is indicated by a highlighted area or a | that appears in the command line. After typing a command, always press RETURN.

  4. Type the docker run hello-world command and press RETURN.

    The command does some work for you, if everything runs well, the command’s output looks like this:

     $ docker run hello-world
     Unable to find image 'hello-world:latest' locally
     latest: Pulling from library/hello-world
     535020c3e8ad: Pull complete
     af340544ed62: Pull complete
     Digest: sha256:a68868bfe696c00866942e8f5ca39e3e31b79c1e50feaee4ce5e28df2f051d5c
     Status: Downloaded newer image for hello-world:latest
     Hello from Docker.
     This message shows that your installation appears to be working correctly.
     To generate this message, Docker took the following steps:
     1. The Docker Engine CLI client contacted the Docker Engine daemon.
     2. The Docker Engine daemon pulled the "hello-world" image from the Docker Hub.
     3. The Docker Engine daemon created a new container from that image which runs the
        executable that produces the output you are currently reading.
     4. The Docker Engine daemon streamed that output to the Docker Engine CLI client, which sent it
        to your terminal.
     To try something more ambitious, you can run an Ubuntu container with:
     $ docker run -it ubuntu bash
     Share images, automate workflows, and more with a free Docker Hub account:
     For more examples and ideas, visit:

How to uninstall Toolbox

Removing Toolbox involves removing all the Docker components it includes.

A full uninstall also includes removing the local and remote machines you created with Docker Machine. In some cases, you might want to keep machines created with Docker Machine.

For example, if you plan to re-install Docker Machine as a part of Docker for Mac you can continue to manage those machines through Docker. Or, if you have remote machines on a cloud provider and you plan to manage them using the provider, you wouldn’t want to remove them. So the step to remove machines is described here as optional.

To uninstall Toolbox on a Mac, do the following:

  1. List your machines.

    $ docker-machine ls
    NAME                ACTIVE   DRIVER       STATE     URL                        SWARM
    dev                 *        virtualbox   Running   tcp://
    my-docker-machine            virtualbox   Stopped
    default                      virtualbox   Stopped
  2. Optionally, remove each machine. For example:

    $ docker-machine rm my-docker-machine
    Successfully removed my-docker-machine

    This step is optional because if you plan to re-install Docker Machine as a part of Docker for Mac, you can import and continue to manage those machines through Docker.

  3. Remove the Docker Quickstart Terminal and Kitematic from your “Applications” folder.

  4. Run the following in a command shell to fully remove Kitematic:

    rm -fr ~/Library/Application\ Support/Kitematic
  5. Remove the docker, docker-compose, and docker-machine commands from the /usr/local/bin folder.

    $ rm /usr/local/bin/docker
    $ rm /usr/local/bin/docker-compose
    $ rm /usr/local/bin/docker-machine
  6. Optionally, remove the ~/.docker directory.

    If you want to remove Docker entirely, you can remove the ~/.docker directory recursively. This directory stores some Docker program configuration and/or state (e.g., information about created machines such as certificates). Removing this directory is typically not necessary.

  7. Uninstall Oracle VirtualBox, which is installed as a part of the Toolbox install.

Next Steps

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