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martinreed
Contributor
Contributor

Running 32-bit Mac Intel apps on an Apple Silicon MacBook Pro

Hi everyone, newbie here.

I am a long (ish) time Mac user, nearly 20 years as an owner (2006 Mac Mini), but go back as far as the Apple II hands-on.

My previous MacBook Pro was a 2017 model (16GB RAM, 1TB SSD), which I kept on Mojave because I needed to run one 32-bit app, Adobe GoLive. I have now bought a 2023 MacBook Pro (32GB RAM, 2TB SSD) with Apple Silicon M2 Pro and Sonoma, and still need to run GoLive.

Will VMWare Fusion allow me to run 32-bit Apple Intel apps (well, actually only one...) on a 64-bit system with Apple Silicon chip?

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dempson
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

No.

Virtualisation products (including VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop) require the guest and host to be the same processor architecture. That means you cannot run an older Intel-only version of macOS (i.e. macOS 10.15 Catalina or earlier) on an Apple Silicon Mac using virtualisation.

(VMware Fusion doesn't support macOS guests at all on an Apple Silicon Mac, but there are other products including some free ones which can use Apple's lightweight virtualisation to run macOS 12 Monterey or later in a VM on an Apple Silicon Mac. That won't help you run 32-bit Intel applications.)

Apple's Rosetta 2 technology allows 64-bit Intel applications to run on an Apple Silicon Mac (provided the application is compatible with the version of macOS), but it does not support 32-bit Intel applications.

The only way you might be able to run macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier on an Apple Silicon Mac is to use an emulation product such as UTM (which uses QEMU to implement the emulation). Their web site doesn't mention running macOS 10.x via emulation (just one example of Mac OS 9.x which must be PowerPC rather than Intel).

That possibly means there is no way at present to run 32-bit-only Intel applications on an Apple Silicon Mac.

To avoid this sort of headache, I've made sure to keep a working Intel Mac which is able to run older software I still occasionally need (and a spare in case that one breaks).

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