How to update your Steam install to 64-bit before macOS Catalina

Posted:
in macOS edited September 3
Yes, the Steam client itself is 64-bits, and most of your games probably are too, but if you've had an install for a while, your client is probably only 32-bit. Here's how to make sure you've got a Steam client compatible with macOS Catalina.

Steam will work fine on macOS Catalina, you just need to take some steps first
Steam will work fine on macOS Catalina, you just need to take some steps first


You'll have to ask Valve why they can't always update your 32-bit Steam client app to the 64-bit version that will run under macOS Catalina. But, AppleInsider is repeatedly being asked by users why their install is yelling at them that it needs an update.

The update from Valve is ready, and the Steam client will work just fine under macOS Catalina -- you just may have to prepare the ground a little.

Specifically, the problem is with the Steam client on your Mac. Even if you have shortcuts to your favorite games, they all launch through that Mac app, and it's possible that your copy of that is still a 32-bit app.

If you're stuck with that 32-bit version, you have to manually get rid of it and then reinstall a new copy.

Oh, yes, it is. The Steam service is fine and so are at least most of your games. It's just the Steam launcher you have to fix.
Oh, yes, it is. The Steam service is fine and so are at least most of your games. It's just the Steam client you have to fix.

Trash talk

One quick tip: do be certain to have your Steam account name and password to hand. You clicked that Remember Me button years ago, but this is going to appear to Steam as if you're setting up a new computer.

You'll have to be able to log in again, and you'll have to have access to email to get the verification codes that you'll be sent.

When you're sure you have the account details, start with this:

  • Quit Steam

  • Go to your Applications folder

  • Drag Steam out to the Trash

If you have Hazel installed on your Mac, it will spot that you've removed an application and will offer to also delete all of that app's supporting files. As good as that is, as so much handier it is than going through the whole process of deleting them manually, don't let Hazel do it.

That's because Hazel will do too good a job and it'll remove everything. We want rid of a lot of Steam, but not the bit that includes your games.

If you have Hazel on your Mac, it will offer to delete Steam's supporting files. But you need the ones to do with your installed games, so click Keep All.
If you have Hazel on your Mac, it will offer to delete Steam's supporting files. But you need the ones to do with your installed games, so click Keep All.


So next, you find all of Steam's supporting files from the Finder.

Hold Shift, Command and press G. In the Go to Folder dialog that appears, enter this: ~/Library/Application Support/ and click Go.

Hold down Command and Shift, then press the letter G to call up this Go To Folder dialog. You're going to get very familiar with it.
Hold down Command and Shift, then press the letter G to call up this Go To Folder dialog. You're going to get very familiar with it.


In the folder that opens, scroll to find the Steam folder, and delete everything in there except /steamapps. That directory is where your games live, and keeping that folder preserves the installs.

Next, repeat that Go to Folder with each of the following. In every one, look for Steam or Valve files.

  • ~/Library/Caches/

  • ~/Library/Logs/

  • ~/Library/Preferences/

  • ~/Library/Cookies/

  • ~/Library/Saved Application State/

  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents/

Do be careful to solely select Steam or Valve folders, but then drag them to the Trash and empty it.

Almost done

Now go to store.steampowered.com where you'll see an Install Steam button at the top right of the site.

Work through the steps it tells you. Then log back in to your Steam account, and you're done.

There is, seriously, nothing you can do about games developers who haven't moved to 64-bit binaries. Barring a virtual machine or something else drastic, those games won't work under Catalina. But at least taking these steps now will save you having that awful moment when you've updated to Catalina, the Steam client won't load at all, and it appears as if you've lost all your Steam games.



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cgWerks
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    OR!
    Go to ~/Library/Application Support/Steam/Steam.AppBundle/. You'll find a folder called Steam, and inside is a folder call contents. This is actually an application! Change the Steam folder to Steam.app, agree to let the OS add the extension, and then double-click on the new app. It'll create a NEW folder called Steam, but leave the Steam.app folder behind. Drag this Steam.app folder to your Applications, replacing the old app. Now you have a 64bit version of Steam in your Applications folder and didn't have to worry about deleting the wrong thing.
  • Reply 2 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,876administrator
    damacguy said:
    OR!
    Go to ~/Library/Application Support/Steam/Steam.AppBundle/. You'll find a folder called Steam, and inside is a folder call contents. This is actually an application! Change the Steam folder to Steam.app, agree to let the OS add the extension, and then double-click on the new app. It'll create a NEW folder called Steam, but leave the Steam.app folder behind. Drag this Steam.app folder to your Applications, replacing the old app. Now you have a 64bit version of Steam in your Applications folder and didn't have to worry about deleting the wrong thing.
    We tried this first! Some of the libraries are 32-bit too, so you'll ultimately run into problems.
    caladanian
  • Reply 3 of 22
    Or, Valve could do their own work, and do this properly themselves.

    If they want me to fix their problems, they can pay for my work.
    curtis hannahuraharacgWerkschasm
  • Reply 4 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,876administrator
    bdonovanw said:
    Or, Valve could do their own work, and do this properly themselves.

    If they want me to fix their problems, they can pay for my work.
    That would be ideal.
    curtis hannahbdonovanwchasm
  • Reply 5 of 22
    Hmm, pretty sure I just downloaded and installed over the previous app and everything was fine. No digging for app support files or anything. Not seeing any 32bit processes. 
    michelb76
  • Reply 6 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,876administrator
    Hmm, pretty sure I just downloaded and installed over the previous app and everything was fine. No digging for app support files or anything. Not seeing any 32bit processes. 
    That's how this is supposed to work. A very large percentage of the time, it doesn't.
    curtis hannahbdonovanwcaladanianfirelock
  • Reply 7 of 22
    Thank you for the article. I was stuck at 32-bit despite running the updater multiple times. Now I'm twice as good. =)
  • Reply 8 of 22
    Hmm, pretty sure I just downloaded and installed over the previous app and everything was fine. No digging for app support files or anything. Not seeing any 32bit processes. 
    That's how this is supposed to work. A very large percentage of the time, it doesn't.
    Interesting. Just took another look and all processes are 64bit. ¯\(°_o)/¯ 

    Also seeing now the details on how the app is actually in App Support and not in Applications — which I re-read in the article after running another update from within the app and noticing the launcher in the Applications folder didn't actually update its modification date. :)
  • Reply 9 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,876administrator
    Hmm, pretty sure I just downloaded and installed over the previous app and everything was fine. No digging for app support files or anything. Not seeing any 32bit processes. 
    That's how this is supposed to work. A very large percentage of the time, it doesn't.
    Interesting. Just took another look and all processes are 64bit. ¯\(°_o)/¯ 

    Also seeing now the details on how the app is actually in App Support and not in Applications — which I re-read in the article after running another update from within the app and noticing the launcher in the Applications folder didn't actually update its modification date. :)
    There's a lot we don't like about the Steam client. And, we wish we could tell why some installs get updated to 64-bit and others don't, but here we are.
    fastasleep
  • Reply 10 of 22
    Hmm, pretty sure I just downloaded and installed over the previous app and everything was fine. No digging for app support files or anything. Not seeing any 32bit processes. 
    That's how this is supposed to work. A very large percentage of the time, it doesn't.
    Interesting. Just took another look and all processes are 64bit. ¯\(°_o)/¯ 

    Also seeing now the details on how the app is actually in App Support and not in Applications — which I re-read in the article after running another update from within the app and noticing the launcher in the Applications folder didn't actually update its modification date. :)
    There's a lot we don't like about the Steam client. And, we wish we could tell why some installs get updated to 64-bit and others don't, but here we are.
    Given your interest, how about an article on making a VM to run your 32bit Steam games (versus external boot or Bootcamp etc). This is one thing I’ll be probably trying out on Parallels. 
  • Reply 11 of 22
    Now I am feeling unsure. I have the 64bit but fear problems because I didn’t delete anything from the library. Why can’t the updater just work. :/
  • Reply 12 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,876administrator
    Hmm, pretty sure I just downloaded and installed over the previous app and everything was fine. No digging for app support files or anything. Not seeing any 32bit processes. 
    That's how this is supposed to work. A very large percentage of the time, it doesn't.
    Interesting. Just took another look and all processes are 64bit. ¯\(°_o)/¯ 

    Also seeing now the details on how the app is actually in App Support and not in Applications — which I re-read in the article after running another update from within the app and noticing the launcher in the Applications folder didn't actually update its modification date. :)
    There's a lot we don't like about the Steam client. And, we wish we could tell why some installs get updated to 64-bit and others don't, but here we are.
    Given your interest, how about an article on making a VM to run your 32bit Steam games (versus external boot or Bootcamp etc). This is one thing I’ll be probably trying out on Parallels. 
    It is a potential topic that we're discussing behind the scenes, but it is literally "buy Parallels, and run whichever OS you need to, to play what you want."
    fastasleep
  • Reply 13 of 22
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,368member
    Hmm, pretty sure I just downloaded and installed over the previous app and everything was fine. No digging for app support files or anything. Not seeing any 32bit processes. 
    That's how this is supposed to work. A very large percentage of the time, it doesn't.
    Interesting. Just took another look and all processes are 64bit. ¯\(°_o)/¯ 

    Also seeing now the details on how the app is actually in App Support and not in Applications — which I re-read in the article after running another update from within the app and noticing the launcher in the Applications folder didn't actually update its modification date. :)
    There's a lot we don't like about the Steam client. And, we wish we could tell why some installs get updated to 64-bit and others don't, but here we are.
    Given your interest, how about an article on making a VM to run your 32bit Steam games (versus external boot or Bootcamp etc). This is one thing I’ll be probably trying out on Parallels. 
    It is a potential topic that we're discussing behind the scenes, but it is literally "buy Parallels, and run whichever OS you need to, to play what you want."
    Isn't there a potential for graphics to fail with some games when within a VM due to the way they handle drivers?
    edited September 4
  • Reply 14 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,876administrator
    MacPro said:
    Hmm, pretty sure I just downloaded and installed over the previous app and everything was fine. No digging for app support files or anything. Not seeing any 32bit processes. 
    That's how this is supposed to work. A very large percentage of the time, it doesn't.
    Interesting. Just took another look and all processes are 64bit. ¯\(°_o)/¯ 

    Also seeing now the details on how the app is actually in App Support and not in Applications — which I re-read in the article after running another update from within the app and noticing the launcher in the Applications folder didn't actually update its modification date. :)
    There's a lot we don't like about the Steam client. And, we wish we could tell why some installs get updated to 64-bit and others don't, but here we are.
    Given your interest, how about an article on making a VM to run your 32bit Steam games (versus external boot or Bootcamp etc). This is one thing I’ll be probably trying out on Parallels. 
    It is a potential topic that we're discussing behind the scenes, but it is literally "buy Parallels, and run whichever OS you need to, to play what you want."
    Isn't there a potential for graphics to fail with some games when within a VM due to the way they handle drivers?
    Yes.
  • Reply 15 of 22
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,296member
    Thanks for the article... I'm going to have to help my son out with this at some point.

  • Reply 16 of 22
    jabohnjabohn Posts: 538member
    All I did was delete the Steam app, download it again, and reinstall. The Go64 app reported the Steam launcher being 32-bit before, but then 64-bit after the delete/install.
    fastasleep
  • Reply 17 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,876administrator
    jabohn said:
    All I did was delete the Steam app, download it again, and reinstall. The Go64 app reported the Steam launcher being 32-bit before, but then 64-bit after the delete/install.
    An auto-update should update an install to 64-bit. Sometimes it doesn't, in which case, the reinstall is needed. In your case, after a clean download, that's how it's supposed to work.

    But, like I said above, it doesn't always work that way. That's what this procedure is for.
    edited September 4
  • Reply 18 of 22
    jabohn said:
    All I did was delete the Steam app, download it again, and reinstall. The Go64 app reported the Steam launcher being 32-bit before, but then 64-bit after the delete/install.
    An auto-update should update an install to 64-bit. Sometimes it doesn't, in which case, the reinstall is needed. In your case, after a clean download, that's how it's supposed to work.

    But, like I said above, it doesn't always work that way. That's what this procedure is for.
    I can affirm that auto-updating and deleting and reinstalling the app does not always work, as it did not work for me. Until I saw this article I didn’t know what was going on. Thanks for the tips. I’ll let you know if it works when I have time to try.
  • Reply 19 of 22
    Question: does updating Steam.app to the 64-bit version mean I won't be able to run any of my 32-bit steam games anymore? (i.e. do I need to keep the 32-bit version if I want to run older 32-bit games, or will the 64-bit app support them up until I upgrade to Catalina?)
  • Reply 20 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,876administrator
    cecil4444 said:
    Question: does updating Steam.app to the 64-bit version mean I won't be able to run any of my 32-bit steam games anymore? (i.e. do I need to keep the 32-bit version if I want to run older 32-bit games, or will the 64-bit app support them up until I upgrade to Catalina?)
    The 64-bit front-end is just a launcher. It doesn't matter to it what it's launching, 32- or 64-bit.
    cecil4444cgWerks
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