How to check which Mac apps are 32-bit and won't work in macOS Catalina

Posted:
in General Discussion
Check right now what 32-bits apps you still have, because they won't run at all after you've upgraded to Apple's macOS Catalina in September.

We've blurred out the app name because we had to scrabble to find an old version and in reality this one has long since been updated to 64-bits.
We've blurred out the app name because we had to scrabble to find an old version and in reality this one has long since been updated to 64-bits.


No one can say that Apple hasn't given us enough warning that old 32-bit apps are going to stop working when we upgrade to macOS Catalina. Yet, it will still be easy to be caught out, and especially if you have apps that you only rarely use.

You don't want to launch that obscure but occasionally vital app in September only to find that it cannot be opened ever again.

If you open an app today that is going to fail under Catalina, you will get a warning. You can contact the developer, you can look for alternatives, or you can decide to hold off upgrading to the new macOS.

Fortunately, though, you don't have to schlep through every single app on your Mac looking for warnings. You can get macOS to identify the problem apps for you in one go.

What to do

Hold down the Option key and click on the Apple menu on your Mac. The regular About this Mac changes to System Information.... Choose that.

This takes you directly to the system report for your Mac, which lists every detail of the hardware and software you have. Scroll down to the Software section and click on Applications.

The pane to the right of that list will then show you a list of all your applications -- eventually.

Even on a modern Mac with an SSD, compiling this list takes a surprisingly long time. When it's done, though, you get that list with the application's name and various details including 64-bit (Intel).

Note that the list is more comprehensive than you might expect -- it isn't just a list of the files in your Applications folder. It's a complete list of all executable applications anywhere on your Mac. So, if you leave apps in your Download folder or even on other hard drives connected to your Mac, they will still be listed.

Every app on every connected drive your Mac has. Look for the last column, 64-bit (Intel).
Every app on every connected drive your Mac has. Look for the last column, 64-bit (Intel).


Every app has a Yes or a No next to it in the 64-bit (Intel) column. Click on that column -- by default it's the last one on the right -- and your Mac will sort the whole list by Yes or No.

What to look for

As simple as it is to recognize that Yes means you're fine, that the app is 64-bits and that you don't need to worry, there is one thing that's harder to spot. It's the name of the application.

Most of the time, that name will be something understandable like GarageBand. There may also, though, be ones that are seemingly meaningless strings of letters, and ones that are slightly more meaningful with a developer's name in them.

These are processes, software that runs as part of an application instead of being an app itself.

There's no way for you to see, for example, adobe_licutil in the list and think, ah, right, I must update adobe_licutil. What you can do is recognize that it's from Adobe. When the name is totally meaningless, you can click on it and more details will appear in a box beneath the list.

That box won't say what full app the process is part of, but it will say where it is on your Mac, when you got it, and usually who you got it from. There's a section called Obtained from, but it usually just says Identified Developer. Still, there's also a section called Signed by and that will say which identified developer it is.

Even though you can't do much yourself about a single process instead of an app, you can look into all of the apps you have from that developer. And then do what you need to do when you find a full app that is listed as No.

Next step

You may have nothing more to do. That's true even if you have a lot of apps that are 32-bit, because they may not be important to you. Remember that the list is compiled from all the apps you have anywhere on your system.

Click on any app to get a detail pane. In this example, the Location tells us that this is an old app on a backup, we don't have to worry about it.
Click on any app to get a detail pane. In this example, the Location tells us that this is an old app on a backup, we don't have to worry about it.


Click to get that detail box and look for the Location section. If the 32-bit app is a copy on some ancient backup drive, you can shrug. At least, you can so long as you also have the app elsewhere in the list and marked as Yes, it's 64-bits.

For example, when we did this, we found an old 32-bit version of Audio Hijack Pro on a backup drive, but that's long been superceded by a new Audio Hijack that is 64-bit. Maybe we should tidy up the backups, but it's not going to stop us working after macOS Catalina arrives.

Even if you've never thought about 64- and 32-bits before, you will find that the majority of your apps are already 64-bit and will work fine under macOS Catalina. That's because developers have had literally a decade to make the transition, and they probably updated their apps to 64-bit without your noticing.

However, if you originally got your app direct from the developer's website and have never been back since, you could still be running their old 32-bit version.

So your first job when you get the full list of your Mac apps that are 32-bit, is to go to each developer's website and check for a newer version. The list makes that easy as it will show you the number of the version that you've got.

Back up your Mac, download all the updates you need, and you're almost certainly done.

If you're running apps that haven't got updates to 64-bit, though, you need to think. The odds are that these apps haven't been maintained in a long time, so this could be the time to look into replacements or alternatives.






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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 989member
    Looks like no upgrade to Catalina for me! Unfortunately Apple has made this more difficult due to "upgraded" databases on iOS13, so the feature in Safari where tabs on other devices is shown is now broken between iOS13 and Mojave, and Reminders also breaks if you upgrade it. Photos also seems to have some oddities.
    edited August 13 caladanianbaconstang
  • Reply 2 of 28
    Cesar Battistini MazieroCesar Battistini Maziero Posts: 167unconfirmed, member
    I have no apps that are 32 bits, only two Apple apps that are here for compatibility.

    So for me it's going to a smooth transition.

    Can't wait!


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 28
    Over the last few Mac OS updates I have gotten a message about my Canon printer and the fact that it has a 32 bit driver. No link, no name about what you should download, just that the driver will soon cease to work. 

    Go to Canon website, find the update drivers, then put in the printer model. It’s a printer/scanner, about 4 years old.  The model is a MG 7520, so select Mac drivers and look for a newer one. Then look at the one already installed. Other than a few digit difference after the decimal point, it’s the same number. Download and install anyway. Next point upgrade for the iMac get the same notification that the driver soon won’t work. 

    Do do an online search to see if it’s KNOWN that this printer will not be supported on the new OS. The 7520 series is supposed to be Mojave compatible, per Canons website. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 28
    sreesree Posts: 110member
    Over the last few Mac OS updates I have gotten a message about my Canon printer and the fact that it has a 32 bit driver. No link, no name about what you should download, just that the driver will soon cease to work. 

    Go to Canon website, find the update drivers, then put in the printer model. It’s a printer/scanner, about 4 years old.  The model is a MG 7520, so select Mac drivers and look for a newer one. Then look at the one already installed. Other than a few digit difference after the decimal point, it’s the same number. Download and install anyway. Next point upgrade for the iMac get the same notification that the driver soon won’t work. 

    Do do an online search to see if it’s KNOWN that this printer will not be supported on the new OS. The 7520 series is supposed to be Mojave compatible, per Canons website. 
    I have a canon printer-scanner too which came with the 32-bit "Canon IJ Scan Utility". You need to download the newer version "Canon IJ Scan Utility2" which is 64-bit if that is the software you have.
    Rayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 28
    My Macbook has lots and lots of 32bit stuff hanging around. 95% of it is from Adobe.
    There is still a drobo 32bit widget running and I'm using the latest version of their software.

    I suspect that I'm not alone there with the Adobe stuff. It would be nice if there was some nice clean way to get rid of it all.
    Otherwise I may opt for a clean install around November time.
    dtb200
  • Reply 6 of 28
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,572member
    Looks like my venerable old copy of Microsoft Office 2011 will not work. Too bad - I don’t use it terribly often, but there are times I need MS word or Excel, and the UI of the new versions totally sucks. 
  • Reply 7 of 28
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,685member
    "New version"?  The UI changes have been around for almost 8 years now so I would hardly consider that "new".  I used MSOffice 2011 on the Mac and it was a horrible mess and abandoned it after a few months.  At that time, I ended up using Office 2012(??) for Windows running on my mac as a virtual machine.

    Maybe it's not the UI.  It's been standard for a long time.  The only bummer part for you is that if you want to get current, it's no longer a perpetual license.  
    fastasleepbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 28
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,572member
    sflocal said:
    "New version"?  The UI changes have been around for almost 8 years now so I would hardly consider that "new".  I used MSOffice 2011 on the Mac and it was a horrible mess and abandoned it after a few months.  At that time, I ended up using Office 2012(??) for Windows running on my mac as a virtual machine.

    Maybe it's not the UI.  It's been standard for a long time.  The only bummer part for you is that if you want to get current, it's no longer a perpetual license.  
    "new versions." Yes, the new UI has been around a while, and has sucked for a while. I'm not saying Office 2011 was an outstanding specimen of a programming - there's a reason I only use it occasionally. And yes, the fact that you now have to buy a subscription is another reason I avoid it. To be honest, hasn't added any significant new features in years. Word Processors and Spreadsheets are pretty mature applications at this point. I'm sure MS knows this as well and moved to the subscription model so they could keep their revenue stream.

    I may end up taking another look at Open Office or LIbre Office...
  • Reply 9 of 28
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,108member
    MplsP said:
    sflocal said:
    "New version"?  The UI changes have been around for almost 8 years now so I would hardly consider that "new".  I used MSOffice 2011 on the Mac and it was a horrible mess and abandoned it after a few months.  At that time, I ended up using Office 2012(??) for Windows running on my mac as a virtual machine.

    Maybe it's not the UI.  It's been standard for a long time.  The only bummer part for you is that if you want to get current, it's no longer a perpetual license.  
    "new versions." Yes, the new UI has been around a while, and has sucked for a while. I'm not saying Office 2011 was an outstanding specimen of a programming - there's a reason I only use it occasionally. And yes, the fact that you now have to buy a subscription is another reason I avoid it. To be honest, hasn't added any significant new features in years. Word Processors and Spreadsheets are pretty mature applications at this point. I'm sure MS knows this as well and moved to the subscription model so they could keep their revenue stream.

    I may end up taking another look at Open Office or LIbre Office...
    You don’t have to buy a subscription. Office Home & Student 2019 is $150. But if you only need them occasionally, why not just use Pages and Numbers and Keynote instead? They open and save as doc/ xls/ppt. 
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 28
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,934member
    Developers have had YEARS to get their apps, plugins, drivers, etc 64-bit. Now that Apple is forcing this I suspect those who have dragged their feet on this are scrambling to get things 64-bit compatible. Shame really and they have no one to blame but themselves. They should have had this done a long time ago so some of the older versions were also 64-bit. Then customers wouldn't have to buy newer versions of something just to get a 64-bit version should that be the case. Of course as usual, Apple will get all the blame on this. 
    edited August 13 watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 28
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,572member
    MplsP said:
    sflocal said:
    "New version"?  The UI changes have been around for almost 8 years now so I would hardly consider that "new".  I used MSOffice 2011 on the Mac and it was a horrible mess and abandoned it after a few months.  At that time, I ended up using Office 2012(??) for Windows running on my mac as a virtual machine.

    Maybe it's not the UI.  It's been standard for a long time.  The only bummer part for you is that if you want to get current, it's no longer a perpetual license.  
    "new versions." Yes, the new UI has been around a while, and has sucked for a while. I'm not saying Office 2011 was an outstanding specimen of a programming - there's a reason I only use it occasionally. And yes, the fact that you now have to buy a subscription is another reason I avoid it. To be honest, hasn't added any significant new features in years. Word Processors and Spreadsheets are pretty mature applications at this point. I'm sure MS knows this as well and moved to the subscription model so they could keep their revenue stream.

    I may end up taking another look at Open Office or LIbre Office...
    You don’t have to buy a subscription. Office Home & Student 2019 is $150. But if you only need them occasionally, why not just use Pages and Numbers and Keynote instead? They open and save as doc/ xls/ppt. 
    I use numbers and pages for the most part, but they still lack some features of word & excel, and there are occasions where I need them for compatibility reasons  

    ...and yes, I realize I’m using an 8 year old version, so I really can’t complain

    edited August 13 watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 28
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 989member
    macxpress said:
    Developers have had YEARS to get their apps, plugins, drivers, etc 64-bit. Now that Apple is forcing this I suspect those who have dragged their feet on this are scrambling to get things 64-bit compatible. Shame really and they have no one to blame but themselves. They should have had this done a long time ago so some of the older versions were also 64-bit. Then customers wouldn't have to buy newer versions of something just to get a 64-bit version should that be the case. Of course as usual, Apple will get all the blame on this. 
    What about developers that're no longer in business, have long since discontinued the app, or have moved on to other things?
  • Reply 13 of 28
    The only 32-bit apps left on my iMac are Adobe CS6 apps and older scanning software.
    watto_cobrawillcropoint
  • Reply 14 of 28
    Though checking on "Aperture" comes up with a YES, it uses processes that are 32 bit.  Really wish they'd fix that.  
    I just updated my 5K iMac to Mojave.  It may be staying there for a while.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 28
    elijahg said:
    macxpress said:
    Developers have had YEARS to get their apps, plugins, drivers, etc 64-bit. Now that Apple is forcing this I suspect those who have dragged their feet on this are scrambling to get things 64-bit compatible. Shame really and they have no one to blame but themselves. They should have had this done a long time ago so some of the older versions were also 64-bit. Then customers wouldn't have to buy newer versions of something just to get a 64-bit version should that be the case. Of course as usual, Apple will get all the blame on this. 
    What about developers that're no longer in business, have long since discontinued the app, or have moved on to other things?
    I believe the acronym is "SOL"
    macxpresswatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 28

    Over the last few Mac OS updates I have gotten a message about my Canon printer and the fact that it has a 32 bit driver. No link, no name about what you should download, just that the driver will soon cease to work. 

    Go to Canon website, find the update drivers, then put in the printer model. It’s a printer/scanner, about 4 years old.  The model is a MG 7520, so select Mac drivers and look for a newer one. Then look at the one already installed. Other than a few digit difference after the decimal point, it’s the same number. Download and install anyway. Next point upgrade for the iMac get the same notification that the driver soon won’t work. 

    Do do an online search to see if it’s KNOWN that this printer will not be supported on the new OS. The 7520 series is supposed to be Mojave compatible, per Canons website. 
    Ah, good old CANON. And EPSON, and pretty much every printer manufacturer out there. Printer drivers don't change often because they can be fiddly to write and to debug and because the manufacturers rarely acknowledge that there are operating systems other than Windows. Grudgingly, after belatedly recognising that their devices won't work for a vocal minority of their users, these companies will recompile their existing drivers in 64-bit mode and then go back to sleeping at the wheel while the hardware guys keep tinkering.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 28
    Hmmmm...basically my Tax Software, Turbo and H&R Block, my Brother printer Control Center...


    Just excellent! Thanks for the detailed "hint!" :)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 28
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,108member
    I think my only concern is my pile of Steam games (and Steam itself, apparently, but I'm sure that'll get updated sooner or later). I suppose I can just run a Mojave VM in Parallels for those that won't be updated?
    dtb200watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 28
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,108member
    MplsP said:
    MplsP said:
    sflocal said:
    "New version"?  The UI changes have been around for almost 8 years now so I would hardly consider that "new".  I used MSOffice 2011 on the Mac and it was a horrible mess and abandoned it after a few months.  At that time, I ended up using Office 2012(??) for Windows running on my mac as a virtual machine.

    Maybe it's not the UI.  It's been standard for a long time.  The only bummer part for you is that if you want to get current, it's no longer a perpetual license.  
    "new versions." Yes, the new UI has been around a while, and has sucked for a while. I'm not saying Office 2011 was an outstanding specimen of a programming - there's a reason I only use it occasionally. And yes, the fact that you now have to buy a subscription is another reason I avoid it. To be honest, hasn't added any significant new features in years. Word Processors and Spreadsheets are pretty mature applications at this point. I'm sure MS knows this as well and moved to the subscription model so they could keep their revenue stream.

    I may end up taking another look at Open Office or LIbre Office...
    You don’t have to buy a subscription. Office Home & Student 2019 is $150. But if you only need them occasionally, why not just use Pages and Numbers and Keynote instead? They open and save as doc/ xls/ppt. 
    I use numbers and pages for the most part, but they still lack some features of word & excel, and there are occasions where I need them for compatibility reasons  

    ...and yes, I realize I’m using an 8 year old version, so I really can’t complain

    Well, regardless, the Home & Student version is a standalone one-time purchase option.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 28
    I have parallels access. It might be simple to just set up a VM with Mojave to run those must-need apps that are 32 bit and can’t be upgraded.
    watto_cobra
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