Learn How to Run 32-Bit apps on macOS Catalina with Parallels Desktop


Apple® claims Mac® users will not have support for 32-bit applications or programs on macOS® Catalina. This is incorrect. Mac users will be able to continue to run 32-bit applications or programs—even if they are using macOS Catalina—with the help of Parallels Desktop® for Mac

The Parallels Desktop Installation Assistant makes it easy for macOS users to create a macOS virtual machine even after upgrading to Catalina—so users can still run 32-bit Mac applications on their current Mac. However, Apple doesn’t make it easy for a basic user to access older macOS or OS X® operating systems. 

Thanks to Krypted, we have a list of older versions of macOS and Mac OS X to download directly from the Mac App Store®. 

Note: Apple often changes the availability of OS X and macOS, so we will keep this list as up to date as we can with the help of Apple communities.

The virtualization market has crowned Parallels Desktop as the award-winning solution to run Windows on Mac. The same virtualization technology lets you run older macOSes on Mac—without rebooting or partitioning your hard drive. It’s almost too good to be true to be able to run your favorite or needed 32-bit applications on a freshly updated Mac—but it’s not. It boils down to what Parallels Desktop was invented to help accomplish: getting the most out of your Mac. 

It’s very easy to create a new macOS virtual machine in Parallels Desktop. 

  1. Download a trial or purchase a license to Parallels Desktop.
  2. Get your desired OS X or macOS from the list above.
  3. Create a new virtual machine in Parallels Desktop with the .DMG of the desired operating system.
  4. Download your desired 32-bit application in the older OS X or macOS virtual machine.
  5. Launch your 32-bit app and enjoy!

Step-by-step instructions are much more helpful with visuals, right? My wonderful peer, Senior Product Manager – Kurt Schmucker, showcases a video on how to set up an older OS X or macOS virtual machine in his blog post, How to set up your Catalina Mac to run 32-bit apps.

According to Apple Support, “Apple began transitioning to 64-bit hardware and software technology for Mac over a decade ago, and all modern Macs now include powerful 64-bit processors that can run advanced 64-bit apps. These apps can access dramatically more memory, enable faster system performance, and take advantage of technologies that define today’s Mac experience, such as Metal graphics acceleration.”

This transition to exclusive 64-bit technology is now complete with the release of macOS Catalina. 32-bit apps are no longer compatible with macOS Catalina. If you have a 32-bit app, follow our steps above to run the old OS X or macOS on your Mac with Parallels Desktop.  If you’re left wondering “What is 32-bit and 64-bit and why does that matter?” Don’t fret, we’ve answered this question in detail regarding operating systems, applications and the hardware CPU impact. 

We’re here to help. Our team at Parallels is wildly excited about Mac users looking to virtualize macOS on macOS with Parallels Desktop. We’d love to hear about your experience! Reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook or within our community forum. 

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