Novice users have a tough time installing their favorite apps in macOS Catalina. Many are facing issues with opening apps that they were using in Mojave. It is mainly due to the new notarization requirement in macOS Catalina and also the removal of support for 32-bit software. We have already provided a solution to fix Gatekeeper security blocks in Catalina. However, “app needs to be updated” is another kind of error, linked to 32-bit incompatibility in macOS Catalina.
“needs to updated” error in Catalina: Install & run 32-bit apps
Removing 32-bit support is an expected change in Catalina- Apple announced it when they released Mojave. But Mac users are in a situation that they want to use the new features in Catalina, but they can’t lose one or two useful apps or games. The only thing we can do at this time to run 32-bit apps in macOS Catalina 10.15 is using virtualization. If you use apps like Virtualbox, you can macOS Mojave as a guest OS inside Catalina. Since Mojave supports the 32-bit macOS apps, we can access them while using Catalina as the primary OS.
While writing this article, I have the app “needs to be updated” error for the uTorrent client in macOS Catalina. uTorrent is much popular, so it might get a 64-bit update, in the coming days. But you can use the following method to fix “Developer of this app needs to update it to work with this version of macOS” error in Catalina, for older games and applications.
Steps to install and open 32-bit games and apps in macOS Catalina
Parallels is one of the best software for doing virtualization in macOS, but it is a paid app. Hence, here we use the freeware Virtualbox as an alternative. Virtualbox has it’s limitations since it is a free app, but it works for the task in most of the scenarios. Let’s see how we can install and open 32-bit apps and games on macOS Catalina by using Virtualbox.
- Download macOS installer (Mojave) to the Applications folder.
- Get this script and extract it to your desktop (Catalina).
- Install the latest version of Virtualbox for Mac, and it’s extension pack.
- Open Terminal app and run the commands “cd desktop/run32bitcatalina,” and then “make all” in the next line.
- Allow installing Command Line Tools (CLT) for Xcode if it is not already there in your Mac.
- Keep the Virtualbox app open. The script then automatically creates macOS DMG, ISO files and install Catalina on Virtualbox Mac host.
- Now transfer the 32-bit app or game from Catalina, and run it on Mojave which works as the guest OS.
- Just keep an eye on the Terminal window to enter your macOS system password, and Enter key whenever needed.
Check our video guide on installing 32-bit apps in macOS Catalina for more information. In the video, it is very clear that macOS Mojave runs smoothly on a Catalina host. And you won’t see “needs to updated” error as Mojave supports all the 32-bit macOS apps and games.
Sometimes, the Terminal window may show an error message as shown in the above screenshot (red background). Check the Comments section for a solution.
Disadvantage of Virtualbox for running 32- bit apps in Catalina
The main disadvantage of this method is the unavailability of drag and drop feature between host and guest. Graphic intensive apps like Photoshop and some games might experience a slight performance delay on Virtualbox. However, 32-bit versions of macOS apps require less memory and resources- so it is not a big drawback.
Drag to drop is possible in Virtualbox, but I couldn’t make it work on Catalina even after installing the Guest additions ISO. But you can, of course, use the iCloud Drive to transfer files from Catalina to Mojave. For bigger files, you can use a USB disk or depend on the Internet downloads.
Alternative to Virtualbox to use 32- bit software on macOS Catalina: Parallels
The best alternative to VirtualBox in Mac is Parallels. If you are ready to pay, Parallels is the most reliable option to run Mojave host on Catalina. The advantage of parallels is that it supports Windows, Linux, and many other operating systems. It can efficiently use the system resources, including the graphics card, external devices, etc. Parallels also enable you to drag the 32-bit apps from Catalina to Mojave.
Parallels can make the virtual guest OS directly from the Mojave ISO, DMG or APP installer. It is very easy to setup the guest OS on Parallels as it has graphical user interface. Check this page to download a 14-day trial version of Parallels for macOS Catalina.