macOS 10.14 Mojave Will Be the Last to Support 32-Bit Apps
Don’t say you weren’t warned! Apple has been saying for some time that the days of 32-bit apps in macOS are numbered, as we mentioned in “The Problem With Abandoned Apps” (17 July 2017) and “macOS 10.13.4 Warns Users about 32-Bit Apps” (13 April 2018). Now Apple, in its 2018 State of the Union presentation, has confirmed that macOS 10.14 Mojave will be the last to support 32-bit apps. Read “macOS 10.13.4 Warns Users about 32-Bit Apps” to learn how to identify 32-bit apps on your Mac. If you still depend on some 32-bit apps, you’ll probably be fine for the 15 months until macOS 10.15 is likely to ship, but it’s never too early to start looking for updates or thinking about alternatives.
Well, presumably Mojave will be supported for several years with security updates, etc., so there is probably quite a bit longer than 15 months. And even if that becomes an issue (e.g., a computer breaks and anything newly purchased only supports 10.15 or later), I’m going to assume/hope that there would still be the option of installing Mojave as a virtual machine in Parallels or another VM app.
So what are our options to continue running old software in 10.15?
Is there an inexpensive virtualization option so we could run 10.14 Mojave and an old 32-bit app in the VM?
Virtualization is often used in more professional environments where customizability rules but that also makes it rather tricky. Does virtualization have to be complicated or are there simple options? Can these be created from an existing installation (or clone or TM archive)? Could such a solution be run seamless, i.e. like Parallel’s coherence mode for Win apps running side by side your regular macOS apps?
At least one app that I had thought would never be updated and was essential to my photo processing workflow came alive last week and was updated to 64-bit. the app is EXIFRenamer. The default mode (which was fine for me) was to rename photo files using the EXIF date taken, thus giving some useful information there. The program had not been updated since 2010, so I assumed that it would never be converted. So I had begun looking for modern alternatives. However, there have been a rapid sequence of updates in the last two 2 weeks.
In a developer note (accessed within the app via the donation pane), the developer claimed that he had actually been trying for a while to do a comprehensive rewrite in Swift, but ended up settling for making the 32->64 bit conversion and a few tweaks.
The one difficulty I had was trying to get the .dmg file from the developer’s website. I finally resorted to MacUpdate.
Hopefully this bodes well for other apps that may have been given up for dead (I.e. works fine now but won’t work post-Mojave).
Thanks for the tip, Alan: that looks like a rather handy little application. Not sure why you had any difficulty getting the dmg file from the developer’s web site, though: there’s a link to the download page on the page about the app.
So, of course I’m not sure what will happen in the future, but I have Parallels 13 ($60, or $50/year to subscribe for all upgrades) set up with El Capitan. I’m not sure why it won’t be the same for Mojave.
With Parallels, yes from a Time Machine disk. Installs are just like they are on the Mac directly. I haven’t tried installing from a clone. Well, I haven’t from a TM restore, either. It seems to me the best solution would be to isolate your 32 bit apps to the VM if you are doing this for that purpose.
[quote]Could such a solution be run seamless, i.e. like Parallel’s coherence mode for Win apps running side by side your regular macOS apps?
As of now, there is no coherence for Mac VMs in Parallels (at least I haven’t found anything in the settings for that). The VM can be set to share specific folders or all of the disks of the host (or can be isolated). Desktop folders could easily be shared with iCloud sharing, or just “networking” to the host machine. (I run Windows just occasionally and never use coherence. Everything I do with it happens in the VM.)
Of course, one issue is going to be performance. If it is a hefty 32 bit app, you’d probably want to allow the VM to have more rather than less RAM, so doing things concurrently with the host computer would likely have a performance hit. But if the 32 bit app can be run isolated, it’s a possible solution.
Better maybe to just stick with hardware that runs Mojave for as long as you need the 32 bit app.
Well thanks, Doug. Thats very useful information. I have to admit I’m totally out of the loop when it comes to virtualization so probably most of my questions are very naive.
$60 doesn’t sound like a lot. I’m mainly interested in continuing to run an old FM Pro database I have. My FM Pro license is 11 Advanced and although that runs fine on HS (apart from a few graphical glitches I can live with), it’s not 64-bit and likely won’t make it beyond Mojave. I’m not about to spend hundreds of $ on a new FM license, but I’d definitely spend $60 to keep it alive on a VM running HS.
You’re right the VM wouldn’t need a full clone of my current setup, a clean HS with FM Pro and that database file would be perfectly fine. The only problem is I doubt by the time I migrate to 10.15 I’ll still have a copy of HS or El Cap lying around so installing from scratch probably won’t work. Although it appears the MAS might allow me to re-download an old El Cap installer so maybe that would work after all. For simplicity’s sake I figured setting it up from a clone or TM backup and then simply erasing whatever I don’t need could be easiest. Maybe not, I don’t know. You certainly have more experience than I do.
Coherence mode would be kind of nice, but it’s not a must. I open this FM Pro database maybe twice a day so as long as the VM doesn’t take too long to load it should be fine. Since, as you point out, the VM takes quite some memory, it’s probably best to shut it down when I’m not using that old database anyway. If you pause the VM and then quit the app, how long does it take to launch the app and get the VM back to running state? Is that a few seconds or are we talking more?
I have added to a growing list of “legacy” 32 bit apps at the Macrumours forum
A glaring one is EyeTV3 which was abandoned by Elgato a few years ago and sold to Genitech. There have been no updates since then.
Yes, this is exactly how I installed El Capitan in Parallels on my High Sierra MBA. I re-downloaded the installer in the App Store. Of course it launched and immediately warned me that I was trying to install over a new install, but I closed the installer.
After that, I started Parallels, File / New and chose to install from an image file. Parallels automatically found the El Capitan installer. It then created an image it could use as an install image, and then you just install El Capitan as if it was from scratch.
It should work with any installer from the App Store, or from a DVD, or from a USB thumb drive set up to be a Mac installer.
Thanks again, Doug. That’s really great to know. Sounds like a plan.
One issue I imagine I’d have with such a VM setup is TM backups. I remember many years ago when I last tinkered with VMs they tended to save the entire session in one big file. Any time you do anything with the VM something in that file will change and hence TM will on its next cycle have to backup that whole multi-GB file. Now since my VM would be holding nothing but an El Cap plus FM Pro which I can both restore easily, I suppose I could just tell TM not to backup the VM file. That would, however mean the actual FM Pro database file shouldn’t “live” in the VM but rather on somewhere outside, on my Mac’s file system so it does get backed up. In your experience how well does that work? Can you map a folder on your Mac’s FS to a automount in the VM so it’s always available to the VM, but actually resides outside?
Parallels has a feature called “Smart Guard” that reduces the amount of data backed up by TM. That said, it’s probably still going to be a bit of an issue, and the SmartGuard feature does take up some extra space when you set it up the first time. (The ElCap VM is about 30 GB, and Parallels is telling me that turning on SmartGuard would take another 20 GB of disk space.) Still, if you are going to use the VM often and want to reduce total TM usage, the option will help long-term. You can also turn off TM from within the backup settings for the VM.
See https://kb.parallels.com/en/8827 and https://kb.parallels.com/115052
I don’t use Time Machine and wouldn’t need it for macOS anyway - I’d just rebuild it from scratch. Plus, it may be smarter instead to get a small external drive and use Time Machine within the VM to that drive and just have it back up the files you’d need for the few apps that you use, setting the rest of the disk to private within time machine settings, and don’t back up the actual virtual machine file on Time Machine on the host. You could even just copy the Parallels configuration right after you have everything set up to that external drive, so if you had to reinstall, you’d just copy that file over and then restore the important files in Time Machine from within the virtual machine.
Yes, plus you can just use standard network mapping features that macOS uses. Your VM basically gets its own IP address and, of course accessing the host is extremely fast.
When you open the Finder within the VM, there is an entry under shared in the Finder sidebar called “127.0.0.1” with a folder called “Shared Folder” inside, and all of the folders that you choose to share show up there. Just as if you were accessing a networked Mac from within the Finder.
In addition to Parallels, there’s also VMware Fusion which may have a higher one-time fee but I think Parallels kind of forces people choose the subscription instead by denying the one-time price version some fairly basic features. But I’m cheap and don’t care about some of the commercial features (like Parallel’s Coherence) so I use Virtualbox, which is free. I use it to run Windows, I only installed Snow Leopard Server in it once, but if I wanted to run a more current macOS in it, I’d probably use the installer to make an installer USB flash drive then temporarily give the VM guest exclusive access to the USB drive to boot from it and run the install.
Virtualbox guest OS volumes are big so yes, you might want to exclude them from Time Machine and back them up manually as needed. Yes, it can share a host folder with the guest so files like a FileMaker database don’t have to live inside the guest’s volume.
If you have any familiarity with Windows, I would consider using it as the guest OS in the VM instead of macOS. Your FileMaker license is not platform specific so you could use it to run FileMaker Pro 11 for Windows. When I had an office that still needed to occasionally access a FileMaker 5 database, I set up a VM running Windows instead of one running Snow Leopard. I found OS X/macOS runs poorly in a VM compared to Windows and I’ve seen nothing to indicate that it has gotten better in newer versions.
Or you could bite the bullet and buy a new FileMaker license. The timing is bad since version 17 just came out and no longer has a FileMaker Pro version, only the more expensive FileMaker Pro 17 Advanced, which is $540 for the full retail price (it looks like you can still get FileMaker Pro 16 for ~$330 from stores). But if you use this one version as long as you’ve used version 11 (~8 years), that’s $67.50/year.
Great. Many thanks, Doug.
I guess I would backup the VM once once it’s initially set up and then leave it at that. The actual database file would reside on my Mac’s file system and hence get backed up through TM running on the Mac (I wouldn’t use TM from within the VM). I’ll tell TM not to back up the VM since the database is already covered and the VM itself is backed up separately. In fact, I can back that up on the same disk I have TM copy to. Should work just fine. And $60 to keep FM Pro running sounds quite reasonable. Who knows, maybe I’ll find other apps that I’ll also need to run from that “32-bit VM”.
Thanks, Curtis. Interesting information.
Do you know if anything specifically important is disabled if I’d go with the one-time $99 (apparently that’s the cheapest Parallels offers) for Parallels instead of the subscription? I’m not a fan of subscriptions at all. Much less for something like this where it’s only about keeping legacy stuff alive for cheap. A quick check on their website seems to indicate that for this simple FM Pro database nothing more than the most basic version is needed.
Your suggestion with a free VM sounds interesting. Although I really dread involving Windows. I think I’d rather pay $99 once than have to deal with Windows—unfortunately, I am a bit familiar with it because we use it for some equipment control at work (although truth be told, most of the stuff those Win boxes actually run is X11 forwarded from a Linux server, go figure <- insert rolleyes here). That said, I don’t even have a Win license I could use for this purpose. I do have macOS “licenses” as far back as the MAS though.
One thing I forgot to mention was licensing issues. I actually have three Macs I run this database on. They’re all on the same subnet. I just saw that the regular one-time license of Parallels does not cover that. 3 Macs would be $300. Zero discount. That’s probably already more than half the cost of a new FM Pro license. /smh
Is FM Pro 16 64-bit? Maybe that would be an option once 10.15 comes out.
Virtualbox can run macOS as a guest, I don’t know if the commercial VM products run macOS as a guest better than Virtualbox.
FM Pro 16 is definitely 64-bit, I think FileMaker Pro 14 was the first Mac version to be 64-bit and that’s when 32-bit support was deprecated (“deprecated” being a warning from FileMaker that support will be removed in the future, I don’t know when it actually was removed).
I looked at old email from the list about Parallels. In 2015, Version 11 removed the option to discard changes when closing a guest (a great feature when testing) from the regular version, making it a Pro-only feature. Their web site only seems to offer subscription as an option for all the editions but elsewhere I can find the basic, non-Pro version, e.g. $54.90 from Amazon. I haven’t examined their subscription model closely to see if it’s more what I would call a maintenance agreement, i.e. if you stop paying the software doesn’t stop working, you just have to pay for the next version.
A VMware blog post from 2011 says personal users can use a single Fusion license on all the Macs in their household. An FAQ about the current version of Fusion says basically the same thing.
There are migration paths between VM hosting software so you could start with one then convert the guest volume to another without starting from scratch.
That’s great to know. Thanks a bunch, Curtis.
The only problem is I doubt by the time I migrate to 10.15 I’ll still have a copy of HS or El Cap lying around so installing from scratch probably won’t work. Sure it will. If you’ve purchased or downloaded a copy of any version of the Mac OS from the Mac App Store, you can download it again—from the same account. The only hitch is that you can’t have a copy of the installer already on your drive or connected external drives. Check the App Store under Purchases and you’l see the versions of the Mac OS that you already “own.”
So, I am surprised that Mojave will still support 32 bit apps. I was under the obviously mistaken impression that High Sierra would be the last one to do so. That said, I spent the last week working in High Sierra and there are far too many problems with it. I returned to Sierra. I’m hoping that Mohave will be more reliable. You know, like El Capitan improved on Yosemite, which was even more buggy the 10.13. I’m going to try the beta when it becomes available to the public—with my fingers crossed.
All of that is true.
But this changed with Sierra. You can no longer find recent macOS purchases in the MAS Purchases tab, but they are still available if you know where to look:
I strongly suspect that there will be a similar link to High Sierra once Mojave is released, but for now you can find an icon for it in MAS on the Favorites tab and quite often in the header display.
I’m running Sierra 10.12.6 and it has not changed. I just took these 4 screenshots from the Purchases Tab of the MAS.
Wow! I hadn’t noticed that Sierra wasn’t listed. Thanks for the link. I wrote it down, just is case.
Note that I said recent versions of macOS. Note that Sierra isn’t listed, even though you are running it.
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