Why are some Mac app icons crossed out?

If your Mac shows application icons with a crossed-out icon, it means that macOS cannot run the application. While there could be multiple causes, the most likely is that you recently updated macOS and it no longer supports 32-bit applications. Here’s why – and what you can do about it.

First, the other reasons an app won’t run

Basically, a crossed-out application icon means something is preventing macOS from running the application. This could be for various reasons, including a damaged or invalid app package, the app was written for a different architecture (e.g. a PowerPC app on an Intel Mac), or the app is not trustworthy and has not received approval nor is it running .

In these cases, it is best to make sure that you are running the latest version of the app (check the developer’s website for updates) and possibly try reinstalling the app from a clean source if it is damaged. But these are usually rare cases.

The current problem: Apple no longer supports 32-bit Mac software

Starting with macOS 10.15 Catalina (released October 2019), macOS no longer supports running 32-bit apps. In Catalina or later, if you have a 32-bit application on your Mac, you’ll see a crossed-out icon over the icon in the Finder, Launchpad, and Dock.

If you try to run any of these crossed-out apps, you’ll get a message that it needs to be updated.

A 32-bit app warning in macOS 10.15 Catalina

But why? And what does “32-bit application” actually mean?

It is difficult to summarize the meaning of the terms “32-bit app” or “64-bit app” without writing a technical research paper, but when it comes to the point, both terms refer to how much memory is used (RAM) and processing power an application has can use. A 64-bit application can use significantly more memory (so that larger files can be loaded) and, in theory, perform much more complex tasks than a 32-bit application.

Because Macs have supported 64-bit applications for over a decade , Apple regards 32-bit applications as legacy software which should be updated to take full advantage of the latest computer hardware. At Catalina, Apple decided to force the problem by banning 32-bit software entirely.

Can I ever use my strikethrough Mac apps again?

With Apple looking to advance the technology, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to run 32-bit Mac software natively on new versions of macOS again. So if you are faced with strikethrough apps, here are some strategies to deal with them.

  • Check for a 64-bit app update: If you have a preferred 32-bit app that has stopped working, visit the developer’s website to see if a 64-bit version of the app is available. Alternatively, you can check for a newer version in the Mac App Store.
  • Search and alternative application: If a 32-bit app hasn’t been updated by the developer, you can try to find a newer app that does the same. A good place to start is the Mac App Store.
  • Are you using an older Mac: If you have an older Mac that is still running a version of macOS prior to Catalina, you could use that computer to run older 32-bit apps and never update macOS, but doing so comes with certain security risks. At some point, security holes in the older apps or operating systems will no longer be patched, making the machine a ripe target for future malware.
  • Are you running an older version of macOS in a virtual machine: Thanks to virtualization software such as Parallels Lite, it is possible to run an older version of macOS virtually in the latest version of macOS. That way, you can keep using your legacy 32-bit apps in the future – as long as you have a virtual machine that supports them.
  • Downgrade to macOS 10.14 Mojave: As a last resort, when you absolutely rely on your 32-bit apps to get your job done and don’t have another Mac, it’s possible reinstall a previous version of macOS like Mojave, the last version to support 32-bit apps. It’s a risky process, however, so back up your Mac first.

Even so, it’s best to upgrade or continue

Just as we long ago said goodbye to 16-bit applications, time is ultimately moving forward and leaving certain technologies behind. This is actually a good thing, because newer apps can use more powerful computers and better development techniques. Also, for security reasons, you should keep your software updated whenever possible. Much luck!

Related Posts