Bitpocalypse Now

The bitpocalypse is nigh.

If you can afford to say goodbye, now’s the time to use those 32-bit un-installers while they still run.

Apple writes:

With the recent release of macOS High Sierra 10.13.4, the first time users launch an app that does not support 64-bit they will see an alert that the app is not optimized for their Mac.

As a reminder, new apps submitted to the Mac App Store must support 64-bit, and starting June 2018, app updates and existing apps must support 64-bit. If you distribute your apps outside the Mac App Store, we highly recommend distributing 64-bit binaries to make sure your users can continue to run your apps on future versions of macOS.

You can read more about the macOS 64-bit transition on Apple’s dedicated support page.

To find out what applications will be affected, use file from the command line on “/Applications/*.app/Contents/MacOS/*”. This should give you a good idea indicating which apps are about to die on you.

If you have apps in folders (like Adobe and Microsoft do), you may need to perform several sweeps, adjusting the path to include subfolders and bundled utilities.

My copy of QuickTime Player 7, with its bundled QuickTime Pro features, is on the death list:

QuickTime Player Player 7: Mach-O executable i386

This makes me immensely sad as I regularly use QTPro to perform video edits from trimming and masking to watermarking and generating image sequences. I do not know of any replacement and would love recommendations.

Microsoft Office 2008 will soon be dead as well. It’s a powerful suite of tools, especially Excel, and I will be bitterly missing its functionality. Numbers and Pages just do not compare to the publishing-standard features offered in the hideously ugly but tremendously functional suite. I do not intend to sign up for a yearly subscription. I may do something with Open Office but I’ll probably stick to Apple and hate doing so.

Microsoft Office 2008/Microsoft Word: Mach-O universal binary with 2 architectures: [ppc:Mach-O executable ppc] [i386]

Adobe Creative Suite 4 will also die, along with it my most comfortable set of photo editing and vector tools:

Adobe Photoshop CS4/Adobe Photoshop Photoshop CS4: Mach-O universal binary with 2 architectures: [ppc:Mach-O executable ppc] [i386]

Here too, I have no intention of signing up for a yearly subscription. There are many editing alternatives. They all lack the comfort and familiarity of the tools I know. I don’t want to invest either the money or the time to get up to speed on something else. I may buy a copy of Elements and live with how limited it is. I will probably have to give up Illustrator and Acrobat (the good one, not the reader) entirely.

These three sets of tools (QuickTime Pro, Microsoft Office, and Adobe Creative Suite) all represent a significant investment of know-how and power. None of them were beautiful but they are all part of my current toolbox. I’m floundering around trying to figure out which of my systems I can keep installations on, so I can boot in and use them as needed once the transition happens.

For now, I’m going to get High Sierra running on an external drive and port apps I need but will otherwise lose. It’s not a great solution but it may buy me some time.

What apps you’ll be losing affect you the most and how do you plan to deal with them?


  • LibreOffice not OpenOffice. OO is a near-unmaintained zombie.

    No connection with them other than as a light former OO, then LO user.

    These days I get by for my super-minimal needs with pages and numbers.

  • You can get Office 2016 as a one-time purchase; it just isn’t easy to find on the MS store. The same is true for Acrobat, but Adobe CC is subscription-only.

    Maybe install the applications on a VM, then don’t upgrade the OS in that VM?

  • Just checking what apps I use, XLD is the only one that is 32-bit. It has such sporadic updates and is essentially a GUI front-end for ffmpeg that updating it shouldn’t be an issue, if the developer is aware before this hits.

    I’ll be curious to see if there are any issues with CLI tools that aren’t as easy to check, although being able to compile from source should help mitigate that somewhat. Hopefully.

  • Instead of running file open up About This Mac and click on the System Report button. Scroll down the side bar to Software and select Applications. The top pane of the resulting output has a column for 64-Bit (Intel). You can sort by that column.

    Many of the 32-bit apps on my system are related to Adobe products. I suspect many are left overs.

    • Doesn’t work for me. I keep getting plugin errors 🙁

      • What kind of plug-ins are you running that they get in the way of a standard apple application?

        Does it crash if instead of going through “About This Mac” you launch /Applications/Utilities/System If that Apple provided utility didn’t work on my machine I’d start worrying.

        • It’s not my plug-ins, it’s the one used by macOS.

  • OK, this list of yours:

    Quicktime: did you research iMovie perhaps?

    Office: Are you considering OpenOffice? Come On! You don’t want to go there! LibreOffice should get you where you want but a good bit of looking at Pages will probably tell you it can do more than you realise and in a lot of cases need. And if you REALLY REALLY need the bees tees in document processing it’s time to start using LaTeX with Texpad.

    Adobe stuff: Replace that with Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. Both are one time purchase and really not that expensive – especially compared to the current Adobe offerings. Plus they are both accompanied with a book if you’re interested.

    • My budget is zero.

      Yesterday I installed all my core apps (Creative Suite, MS Office, QTPro) on a dedicated bootable partition of an external drive and today I’ll back that up.

      (Not-So) Fun fact: The CS and Office installers no longer work on High Sierra. I had to copy and manually install components by hand and run Adobe’s Python-based license tool from the command line.

      • I don’t understand why? Why is somebodies budget zero that does so much on Swift?

  • I’m going to lose my fave text editor if I upgrade!

    Mach-O executable i386

    • BBEdit in free mode. Read up on

      • Thanks! My path forward will include that. But I now have a computer that I will freeze from upgrading instead of risking losing so much software!!

        Right now, I’m working on an older computer that I will upgrade and see what I can transfer.

        • You’re welcome. However, freezing a computer really is like being between a rock and a hard place isn’t it? I mean, not upgrading might expose you to security risks that will not be mitigated because you do not do updates and updating it will lead to losing software you might want to use for a bit more time. I understand. Still I can also understand why Apple wants to get rid of 32bit applications. And it leads to a bit of a refresh in the Apple Store too which is about high time I think.

  • […] Update (2018-04-17): Erica Sadun: […]

  • My biggest problem is that the NNTP client I am using is a 32-bit application that is not being maintained at all. I have been trying to find an alternative but to date I could not find anything suitable.

  • I’ve git more than I expected, but not crazily so. Mostly my 32-bit apps are older version of apps that I offer a paid upgrade that I don’t want to buy (because old app works fine). Scrivener 2, for instance. I might just not upgrade – I’d still be on 10.12 if not for the Intel security issues getting patched on 10.13 first. Bit worried that Beyond Compare is on the list of 32-but apps, but they seem to be in the process of hosting it. Phew.

  • Just wanted to jump in and say that Videoloupe is a fantastic replacement for old QTpro. Much of my job ends up being quick trims/edits of media, watermarking, frame export, etc — Videoloupe does that all + a great deal more. It’s set up so you can toggle the visibility of the controls you use most often. Unfortunately not free, but it’s a 1-time purchase for $30.