We may earn a commission from the affiliate links on this site. Check our advertising discloure for more.
how to install 32 bit app mac cover

How to Run 32-Bit Apps & Games on Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur, Steam & M1/M2/M3 Macs

macOS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur, Catalina and Apple Silicon M1, M2 and M3 Macs do not run 32-bit apps or games.

Apple dropped support for 32-bit applications in macOS Catalina and the last macOS to support them was Mojave.

You can only install 64-bit apps on Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur and Catalina which for most people isn’t a problem as almost all major software is now 64-bit.

Although there are now many ways to run Windows on a Mac and play Windows games on a Mac, only a few of them support 32-bit games.

The latest Apple Silicon Macs are also incompatible with 32-bit games or apps and if you’re trying to run a 32-bit app or game on one, we recommend you skip to the section on 32 bit games and apps on Apple Silicon Macs.

If you try to run a 32 bit-app in Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur, Catalina or an M-series Mac, you’ll get the following “App is not optimized for your Mac and needs to be updated” error message:

32 bit error message mac

However, the problem for some Mac users is there are still some older applications and games that are still 32-bit only.

The most notable program is Microsoft Office 2011 but there are also others like MT4, Adobe CS5 and CS6, Aperture, older versions of iTunes, iBooks, iPhoto and some Steam games which are still 32-bit only.

The same applies to some music production or DJ software for Mac that have lots of 32 bit plugins that will no longer work in the latest versions of macOS or on an M1/M2/M3 Mac.

Why Do Macs No Longer Support 32-bit Apps?

The main reason Macs don’t support 32-bit apps anymore is because they are inefficient. By making sure that all apps are 64-bit, macOS is less bloated, more secure and faster.

32-bit apps use older code that is simply outdated now and maintaining a legacy code is both time consuming and less secure in any operating system including macOS.

You can read more about Apple’s reasoning for transition to 64-bit here.

How To Tell If An App Is 32 or 64-Bit

Here’s how to check whether the game or app you want to use is 32 or 64-bit compatible.

  • Go to the Apple logo in the top left of your screen and select About This Mac > System Report
  • In the left menu bar, scroll down to Software > Applications.
  • In the last column on the right, you can see whether the game or application is 32 or 64 bit Intel compatible.

check 64 or 32 bit mac

  • You can also check if are any 32-bit apps on your Mac by going to the Apple logo and selecting About This Mac > System Report… > Software > Applications and checking the Kind field in the panel below

check 32 bit app mac

How To Play 32-Bit Games on a Mac

The best way to play 32 bit games or run 32 bit apps on macOS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur, Catalina or M-series Macs is to install a virtual machine on a Mac.

On Intel Macs you can then use a virtual machine to run an older 32 bit compatible version of macOS such as macOS Mojave or run Windows on your Mac (if the app or game you want to play also works on Windows of course).

On Apple Silicon Macs you can’t install an older version of macOS in a virtual machine, but you can install an M1/M2/M3 ARM chip compatible version of Windows instead.

This enables you to open applications in 32-bit mode on a Mac.

There are various virtual environments you can use to play 32 bit games or apps but not all of them work on macOS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur Catalina or M1/M2/M3 Macs because some of them (such as Wine) are 32-bit applications themselves and don’t work on the latest versions of macOS.

We therefore recommend the best way to install 32-bit apps on a Mac nowadays is by using Parallels.

Parallels is the only way to run Windows on a Mac that is officially endorsed by Microsoft.

You can download a free trial version of Parallels to try this for yourself.

Parallels allows you to run Windows and older 32-bit compatible versions of macOS (such as Mojave, Sierra and High Sierra) simultaneously so whenever you need to use a 32 bit app, you can just switch to your Windows or older macOS installation in Parallels.

32 bit games and apps on mac

Not only this, but Parallels works on Apple Silicon Macs and by allowing you to install Windows on a Mac, it allows you to run 32 bit Windows games and apps on an M-chip Mac.

Parallels is now so well integrated with macOS that you can launch 32-bit apps from the Dock as if they were installed on your Mac natively.

However, note that this only works for 32 bit Windows ARM compatible apps and games.

Due to the complexities of running 32-bit apps in Windows ARM on an M1/M2/M3 Mac, it also may not work with every game or application.

Be aware also that if you want to use a 32-bit plugin such as for a music application, the entire music production suite must be installed in the virtual environment.

You can’t install the 32-bit plugin in Parallels and expect it to work with your music software installed in the latest versions of macOS due to technological limitations.

Parallels has provided full instructions on how to run 32 bit apps on an Intel Mac, using an installation of High Sierra as an example but the same method would apply if you were installing Mojave or Windows instead.

You can also check out our full review of Parallels for more.

32 Bit Games & Apps on M1/M2/M3 Macs

Running 32 bit games and apps in Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey, Catalina and Big Sur on Apple Silicon Macs is more complicated than on Intel Macs.

Older versions of macOS in a virtual environment only work with Intel chips. So only Intel Macs can install older versions of macOS such as Mojave or High Sierra.

And Boot Camp does not work with M-series Macs so you can’t install older versions of macOS using Boot Camp on an Apple Silicon Mac.

So there’s no way to install an older version of macOS on an Apple Silicon Mac to run 32 bit games and apps.

However, M-chip Macs can run a 32 bit version of Windows 10 and Windows 11 using Parallels so if the 32-bit game or application you want to run is available on Windows you can run with Windows version on an Apple Silicon Mac.

It’s important to be aware though that M-series Macs can only run the ARM-chip compatible version of Windows 10 and 11.

This means that the 32-bit game or app you want to use must be compatible with Windows 10 or Windows 11 on ARM.

A few Adobe apps such as Lightroom are Windows 10 on ARM and Windows 11 on ARM compatible but most Adobe software isn’t for example.

The good news is the latest version of Windows 11 ARM can also run other Intel only software as it can perform what’s known as x64 emulation which means almost all 64-bit software will run on it.

The bad news is that it won’t work with 32-bit software and it’s currently only available in the Preview version of Windows 11 ARM.

The bottom line is, if the game or app is 32-bit Windows 10 ARM or Windows 11 ARM compatible you can use it on an M-chip Mac.

If it isn’t, there’s no way to play or use it on an Apple Silicon Mac.

You can find full instructions how to install Windows 10 on M-chip Macs here and Windows 11 on a Mac here.

How To Play 32-bit Steam Games on a Mac

Steam recently announced that it will no longer support macOS Mojave or 32-bit Mac games from February 15th 2024.

However, you will still be able to play 32 bit Steam games on a Mac by using Crossover or Whisky.

Crossover and Whisky are Windows emulation layers that allow you to play the Windows versions of games in Steam on a Mac such as Counter Strike 2, Lethal Company and Hogwarts Legacy.

Both Crossover and Whisky work on Apple Silicon Macs natively and both are based on the Apple Game Porting Toolkit.

Crossover is the best option as it supports the widest ranges of games although because its a commercial product, you do have to pay a subscription of $74 to use (although its well worth it). You can download a free trial of Crossover.

Crossover was recently updated to improve support for running 32 bit apps and games too.

You can check out our full Crossover review for more.

link steam to crossover mac

Whisky is based on the same technology as Crossover but is open source and free to use.

Whisky isn’t as stable as Crossover and doesn’t support as many games but it should work for most 32-bit Steam games.

steam setup complete whisky mac

For more, check out our guide on how to use Whisky to install Windows only games on a Mac for free.

If you have any problems or questions about installing 32-bit applications on your Mac, let us know in the comments below.

Discover more from MacHow2

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.


Discover more from MacHow2

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading