How to Check for App Compatibility Before Installing macOS Catalina, Big Sur or Monterey

How to Check for App Compatibility Before Installing macOS Catalina, Big Sur or Monterey

UPDATE FALL 2021: The following applies not only to Catalina, but also to the newer Big Sur, Monterey and all macOS versions going forward. If you already have Catalina, Big Sur or Monterey you’ve  already broken all of the apps that are going to be broken because of the change to 64 bit apps.

Apple’s new operating system for Macintosh computers is going to be called macOS Catalina. It will be available in “the fall,” according to Apple. In recent years “fall” has meant late September, which is less than 2 months away from this writing. In most releases of macOS, we usually gain features while losing little if anything from past systems. One notable exception, was Mac OS X Lion in 2011, which discontinued support for ALL applications written before 2006. Uninformed users performed the “free” upgrade and found themselves facing hundreds of dollars of upgrades to other software.  This year’s release deserves this kind of careful attention because 32-bit applications will stop working on Macs with macOS Catalina installed. While we don’t need to understand the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit apps, we do need to know if any of the programs we use on a daily basis are still 32-bit. In most cases this will be apps we’ve had for 5 years or more, but this is not a hard and fast rule. In this article you can find out which (if any) of your apps are going to be issues with a few clicks.

macOS Catalina, Big Sur and Monterey Icons
First, go to the Apple menu in the upper left hand corner of your screen and click the first item… “About This Mac”.
Click the Apple menu and "About this Mac"
Then we’re going to click the button near the bottom of the screen that says… “System Report…”

This will open an intimidating App called “System Information.” Don’t panic. In the next steps, we’ll tell you exactly where click to get the information we need.

Click "System Report" at the bottom of the screen
Step 1 is to look in the left hand column in the lower half of the screen in the Software section, and click on Applications. It may take the computer a little time to bring up the list of everything you have. This could take as little as a few seconds, or as much as a few minutes, depending on how fast your computer is.
Scroll down to "Software" and look for Applications
Step 2 is to click the 64-bit heading in the top row of the list. This will force the list of apps to sort by whether or not the app is 64-bit. The “No” section should be on top.
On our computer a fairly short list of fewer than 10 apps popped up, but the list scrolls to expose many, many more. You can grab the little dot in the middle of the horizontal divider below the last visible app, and drag the divider down (as we have done in this screen shot) to reveal more of the apps without scrolling as much.
Look for the 64-bit column and click
Step 3 is to evaluate the list, as this is the vital information we are looking for. ANY app with a “No” will NOT work with Catalina. If you no longer use the app, no problem. If you still use the app, then action on your part is needed. In our example, we will need to upgrade our version of Microsoft Office, if we still want to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Office 2008 and 2011 will require paid upgrades. Early versions of Office 2016 can be upgraded for free using the Microsoft Update system. (See our separate article on Microsoft Office).
The No items will float to the top. Examine these for often used apps.
In our search, some old versions of Apple apps showed up here (iMovie HD, for example, is from over 10 years ago). For the most part this is not a problem, since we have newer versions of these apps already installed. Where this might be a problem, is if you have old documents or projects you still need that can only be opened in the old versions. You may need to do some additional internet searching to determine whether this is the case or not.

Also in the list is our Point of Sale system!! Wow! THAT software is absolutely essential to our daily business. So our company will have to DELAY the upgrade to Catalina until this is resolved. We suspect it will be taken care of by the official launch date, but it’s a good thing we checked first. You would do well to check your apps too.

If you are in the Asheville area, we can help you with this process if needed via an in-shop one-on-one tutoring session. Call us at 828-225-6600 to schedule.

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