Retroactive brings Aperture, iPhoto, iTunes back in macOS Catalina

Posted:
in Mac Software edited February 2020
Aperture and iPhoto don't work in macOS 10.15 Catalina, and iTunes has been completely replaced. But, there is a solution with the Retroactive app.




The release of macOS 10.15 Catalina brought with it a number of changes that affected how apps functioned, including tools Apple itself produced. Arguably the biggest casualty is iTunes, which was eliminated in favor of separate apps for Apple Music, Podcasts, and Apple TV, while the Finder handles iPhone and iPad backups.

In the case of Aperture, Apple's discontinued professional photography tool, it was effectively discontinued five years ago, but the app only stopped working in Catalina, while iPhoto provided a more consumer-friendly and simpler photo management system until it too failed to operate in Catalina. Apple intended for both apps to be replaced by Photos, but some users prefer to use the older tools instead of moving on.

The lack of support is in part due to Apple discontinuing support for 32-bit apps, with macOS now only functioning with 64-bit versions, forcing developers to update their software to 64-bit if they are to continue functioning normally. For users who needed to use specific apps or refused to migrate over to different tools, this forced some into the decision to stay on macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier releases, and not to upgrade to Catalina.

However, in the case of Aperture and iPhoto, both apps are 64-bit with some internal 32-bit components, and the possibility of resurrecting the tools to extend their lives a bit longer.

A free tool from developer Tyshawn Cormier called Retroactive aims to fix the situation by allowing Aperture, iPhoto, and iTunes to run in macOS Catalina. Following a relatively short process, the app can be used to modify each piece of software to make it compatible with Catalina, with each conversion taking between 10 minutes to an hour to accomplish.

The tool itself is free and open source, hosted on Github, which also provides users with an opportunity to inspect the source code to ensure it is safe to use.

Rather than running the app within a sandbox or another in-depth solution, Retroactive goes through a number of small steps to modify the app itself so it can run, as the developer advises in a technical deep dive.




In the case of Aperture and iPhoto, Retroactive changes the bundle identifier for the app to something that isn't blocked by macOS' System Integrity Protection, add the NyxAudioAnalysis framework from macOS Mojave and update the framework path, then performs "Swizzling" on broken methods by replacing them with functional elements and filling in removed selectors. Retroactive then sets the constructed framework to load automatically before the application launches, then resigns the app with ad-hoc signing.

The result is an app that effectively runs almost completely as normal, albeit with some small issues relating to videos. Both Aperture and iPhoto cannot import or play videos, nor can they export slideshows.

A similar process is also available for iTunes, but with a difference, in that rather than relying on having an existing installation of the software to work from, it will download the selected version and install it for the user. Currently it offers iTunes 12.9.5 which supports Dark Mode and most DJ apps, iTunes 12.6.5 with support for downloading and archiving iOS apps, and iTunes 10.7 for CoverFlow.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    Tyshawn Cormier clearly has mad skills.  The elegant UI is a nice, surprising touch.  Maybe next week he can tackle all the old 32-bit games.  That would earn him the Nobel Prize for Software for sure.
    fasterquieterfrantisek
  • Reply 2 of 21
    Kudos to him!  Incredible piece of work.  Thankfully there are still smarter people outside of Apple than inside.
    edited October 2019 fasterquieterriss
  • Reply 3 of 21
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,236member
    Tyshawn Cormier clearly has mad skills.  The elegant UI is a nice, surprising touch.  Maybe next week he can tackle all the old 32-bit games.  That would earn him the Nobel Prize for Software for sure.
    Likely not going to happen.  His method relies on the app to be mostly 64-bit already (and created using Objective-C).  Works well for recently discontinued Apple apps, but not so great for anything which was only ever 32-bit.
    MacProStrangeDaysxyzzy01
  • Reply 4 of 21
    Would be amazing if he could bring back Dashboard too!
    scampercom
  • Reply 5 of 21
    "...Finder handles iPhone and iPad backups..." Could the author elaborate on this more, please?
  • Reply 6 of 21
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 319member
    ralphie said:
    Kudos to him!  Incredible piece of work.  Thankfully there are still smarter people outside of Apple than inside.
    This has nothing to do with smart people in Apple. They chose to wash their hands of 32-bit apps (or ones that are partially 32-bit). They could have done this but who would accept this partial solution from Apple. They would deliver or support this. 
    fahlmanStrangeDays
  • Reply 7 of 21
    What a fabulous deep dive read into the how to do it. So clearly written; I smiled throughout at the conversational style!
  • Reply 8 of 21
    ivanhivanh Posts: 552member
    Before a virtual machine is available, Retroactive seemingly a nice trick. I always suggest Find My Friends to include more powerful functions but am disappointed by Find My... on iOS 13.  Can Retroactive put Find My Friends back?
  • Reply 9 of 21
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,094administrator
    stevnim said:
    "...Finder handles iPhone and iPad backups..." Could the author elaborate on this more, please?
    https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/06/05/how-iphones-and-ipads-back-up-synchronize-with-ios-13-and-macos-catalina
  • Reply 10 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,070member
    ralphie said:
    Kudos to him!  Incredible piece of work.  Thankfully there are still smarter people outside of Apple than inside.
    Wait, what? So because Apple made a cognitive decision to migrate a very complex operating system to 64-bit only, and it upsets some people using obsolete software, that makes them not smart? That...that doesn’t make any sense.

    Sorry the world doesn’t give you everything you want for reasons you’re not even aware of. Prepare yourself for a lifetime of disappointment. 
    mdriftmeyerjony0
  • Reply 11 of 21
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    Sad there was never a proper update for Aperture.
    baconstangzhiro
  • Reply 12 of 21
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,218member
    I would have jumped on this for Aperture alone at one point in time however, I am now deeply into Capture One Pro 12 and there is no going back.  Aperture was fabulous but never having been updated (let alone supported) it is now far behind the curve.  The RAW support isn't there either for any new Cameras (e.g. my new full-frame Sony Alpha) and even if it were the correction algorithms are not in the same league.  It's not as if the Aperture Libraries are not fully useable by Photos and Capture One.  Had they not been this would definitely have been a good idea just to access old Libraries for export but it is not needed.  Sad to say but it is time to let Aperture rest in peace.
    edited October 2019
  • Reply 13 of 21
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,218member
    ralphie said:
    Kudos to him!  Incredible piece of work.  Thankfully there are still smarter people outside of Apple than inside.
    Wait, what? So because Apple made a cognitive decision to migrate a very complex operating system to 64-bit only, and it upsets some people using obsolete software, that makes them not smart? That...that doesn’t make any sense.

    Sorry the world doesn’t give you everything you want for reasons you’re not even aware of. Prepare yourself for a lifetime of disappointment. 
    Yes, you are right.  However, Apple could have kept the Aperture team intact and continued the development of Aperture to be fully 64 bit and also continued to improve its capabilities.  There is no reason Aperture could not have been as good or better than the likes of Capture One Pro 12 by now.  The reason Apple dropped Aperture leaving many of us using it for professional work high and dry is still a mystery to me.  The only explanation given was that Apple's Photos was 'going to be (over time) as good'.   It's not that Photos is great for consumers but it is useless for professionals.   It's one of the few things Apple has done in all the years I've used Apple gear (since 1976) that left me really pissed.
    edited October 2019 baconstangzhirohucom2000razorpitstuke
  • Reply 14 of 21
    I have just resurrected Aperture and I am very happy. I am not a professional photographer, but I did like the interface and the quick access to adjustments...whereas in Photos, all that is so dumbed down.


    baconstangzhiro
  • Reply 15 of 21
    MacPro said:

    Yes, you are right.  However, Apple could have kept the Aperture team intact and continued the development of Aperture to be fully 64 bit and also continued to improve its capabilities.  There is no reason Aperture could not have been as good or better than the likes of Capture One Pro 12 by now.  The reason Apple dropped Aperture leaving many of us using it for professional work high and dry is still a mystery to me.  The only explanation given was that Apple's Photos was 'going to be (over time) as good'.   It's not that Photos is great for consumers but it is useless for professionals.   It's one of the few things Apple has done in all the years I've used Apple gear (since 1976) that left me really pissed.

    As I understand it, the underlying code was pretty messy, the team had largely been dismantled already, and there was no longer any "shepherd" within the company to fight for it. 

    But be sure that I don't disagree with you. I find the interface so far beyond anything else that I will continue to use it as long as possible. (I need it mainly as a cataloguer, not an image editor.) It was glorious software design that really showed how it should be done, and I've been damn bummed that Apple didn't take the pride in it that it deserved. (And despite being a decades-long Adobe fan generally, I find Lightroom just kludgy and awful by comparison.)
    hucom2000
  • Reply 16 of 21
    FjodolfFjodolf Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Dumb ass question.. do you run this application on Aperture before or after upgrading to Catalina (or does it not matter ??)
    stuke
  • Reply 17 of 21
    After Retroactive my Aperture is doesn't have all the same brushes as before. Do you have the same experience?  All I get is "Retouch". I can add adjustments be copying them from another photo and stamp then on to the photo I'm working on but I can not add them from scratch.

  • Reply 18 of 21
    stukestuke Posts: 106member
    All I can say is "thank you" TyShawn!!!  Even Capture One Pro 20 is no match for Aperture's combined DAM and extensible photo editing.
  • Reply 19 of 21
    I am using OS Mojave with Aperture 3.6 and trying to open Fuji Raw files without success. Any suggestions?
  • Reply 20 of 21
    lsb58lsb58 Posts: 1member
    Do I upgrade to Catalina first before installing Retroactive? Or in Mojave?
    Please note that I have an iPhoto library of over 100,000 photos!
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