Apple warns macOS users that it will drop support for 32-bit apps

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High Sierra is the latest version of macOS to fully support 32-bit apps.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has begun issuing notifications to macOS users that confirm plans to drop support for 32-bit applications.

“This app needs to be updated by its developer to improve compatibility,” reads the warning users will see when they load a 32-bit app for the first time in macOS High Sierra 10.13.4. This is the final version of macOS that will allow 32-bit apps to be opened “without compromise.”

We knew Apple planned to drop support for 32-bit apps from macOS, but those who don’t follow its updates closely will have been out of the loop. Now Apple is ensuring that the move won’t take macOS users by surprise by notifying everyone running its latest High Sierra release.

Starting today, users will see a warning when they open a 32-bit app for the first time, reports Ars Technica. A “learn more” link will take them to an Apple Support document that explains the reasoning behind this decision.

macOS won’t support 32-bit apps for long

“All modern Macs include powerful 64-bit processors, and macOS runs advanced 64-bit apps, which can access dramatically more memory and enable faster system performance,” the document explains. “To ensure that the apps you purchase are as advanced as the Mac you run them on, all future Mac software will eventually be required to be 64-bit.”

Apple says 32-bit apps will continue to work on your Mac for now, and that they have “no adverse effects on your data or your computer.” But High Sierra is the final version of macOS that will run those apps “without compromise” — whatever that means.

This suggests you’ll still be able to open 32-bit apps in future versions of macOS, too; they just may not work as expected. Apple hasn’t specified when support for 32-bit apps will be dropped entirely. “The 64-bit transition for macOS and macOS apps is still underway, so final transition dates have not yet been established,” the document adds.

How to check if your favorite app is 32-bit

This change won’t have a dramatic affect; developers will have already updated their most popular titles to support 64-bit architectures long ago. But if you’re using an old piece of software that hasn’t been updated in a while, you might have a problem.

You can check whether or not your favorite apps are 32-bit inside macOS by following the steps below:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the menu bar
  2. Click “About This Mac”
  3. Click “System Report”
  4. Scroll down to “Software,” then select “Applications”
  5. Select the app you want to check, then look for the field titled “64-bit (Intel)”

Any app that has a “Yes” in this field is already updated for 64-bit computers. Any app that has a “No” in this field is still a 32-bit app. Apple encourages users to contact app developers themselves if their favorite titles haven’t yet been updated.

Apple has already stopped accepting 32-bit app submissions to the Mac App Store, so you’ll only find 64-bit software in there. The company has eliminated 32-bit apps on iOS, too.