What To Do About Those Mojave “App Is Not Optimized” Messages

After updating to Mojave, many Mac users see a message saying that an app they are trying to use needs to be updated and won't work with future versions of macOS. By future versions, that means the next major update of macOS, probably coming in late 2019, not minor updates. Before then, you can update to a newer version of that app, or find an alternative app to use in its place.

Video Transcript
A lot of people have noticed messages like these since upgrading to Mac OS Mojave. A lot of people talk about these online and there's a lot of misinformation out there. What this means is that the app that you're trying to run isn't 64 bit. So 32 bit apps are older style apps, probably made years ago using older development software. 64 bit apps is the modern way to make apps. They're optimized. They run fast and good on current Macs. Now the operating system has to be able to understand the type of app. So operating systems can handle 32 bit apps or 64 bit apps or both. Mojave can handle both.

The first misconception people have is when they see this is now my app is no longer compatible with my Mac. That's not true! This is a warning. This says this app will run and you can still use it. But in the future you won't be able to. By the future it means the next version of Mac OS. The next full version. So probably what comes out later this year probably in the Fall. Not the next small release or update or something like that. So, as long as you continue using Mojave you will be able to use this app. It's just warning you that the next thing to come after Mojave won't.

So why is this happening? Well, if an app gets very old without being updated it's still in 32 bit mode. Now, Macs have been 64 bit for a long time. As a matter of fact in 2010 when Mac OS Lion came out that operating system was 64 bit. So you needed a 64 bit Mac to be able to run Lion. So any Mac you bought from 2010 on, as a matter of fact even a little bit earlier than that, could run 64 bit apps. But for a long time, and up till now, Macs can run both. 32 bit and 64 bit apps. The operating system supports that. So if a developer failed to update their app over all those years and kept it as a 32 bit app, then you could still run it.

But at this point the only apps that are still 32 bit only and not compatible with 64 bit are apps that have been abandoned. The developer is no longer updating the app. They haven't created a new version for awhile. Maybe the company doesn't even exist anymore. Or perhaps they have updated their app but you failed to follow those updates. So you're using an earlier version even though newer versions have come out. That's the most common thing that people have now. They're trying to use an old version say of Microsoft Word or something and they don't want to update to the newer version. They don't want to spend the money on it and now they find out that this old version gives them this message sometimes. They could still use it but at some point they should update.

So there are a lot of reasons why you should keep your software updated. You get not only the latest features but also security update and stability things. If you've got an app that old that it's not 64 bit at this point then it's probably not working the best. Maybe features that aren't working. Maybe times when it crashes. Things like that. Who knows what kind of security vulnerabilities could be there as well. So it's important to keep your software updated.

An option to updating is to find a different app. So if you were using an expensive app and, you know something like say PhotoShop or Microsoft Office, and you want a cheaper version that does the same thing, maybe take a look at using alternatives. For instance if you're using Word but you really don't need to be in the Microsoft ecosystem use Pages. You already have that. If you're using PhotoShop but you don't want to go and buy a new version of it or subscribe to an Adobe service, then maybe look at using one of the many apps in the App Store like Pixelmator, Acorn, Affinity, one of those for editing images. Or maybe just use the stuff in Preview or in the Photos app to edit your images and not have to pay anything.

So Apple actually has a page where they go into more technical details about this alert. It actually goes back to High Sierra. High Sierra gave a warning and Mojave now actually gives a more stern warning saying it's not going to work in the next version. So you get some details if you want to go to this page.

Now if you want to check to see if you have any apps that fit into this one way to do it is to go to About This Mac and then go to System Report. Under System Report, I already have it selected here, there is Applications and you get a list of Applications. Expand this window to full size and you can see here there's a column for 64 bit. So you can Sort by that. So if you sort by it you can see all the No's. They're the ones that are going to give you this message.
Now I have a lot of stuff there. Why? Because I'm a developer. So I'm constantly creating things that are identified as apps. So I have, in my Archives, all sorts of projects from the past that you won't have that are saying no, no, no because, you know, I've got an archive version of an app I created in 2007. That kind of thing. That's going to show up here.

Chances are you might see just a few apps. Look for a version number. If it has a version number and it's no then it's probably an app that you have that you could in launchpad and things like that. Now you can go through this and kind of get an idea. Maybe it's time to uninstall apps if you're no longer using them at all. Maybe time to look for newer versions or update or find an alternative to those apps. In some cases it's just a matter of the developer hasn't gotten around to updating them yet. Even bit developers like Adobe still have a few little pieces that they're going to need to update at some point this year. If you're using the current version of Creative Cloud I'm sure that it will all be taken care of by then.

But it is a good idea for you to go through it. For instance for me Adobe Fireworks is an app I loved. But it's 32 bit. They've abandoned it. It's not going to work in the next version of Mac OS so I have found a great alternative that I'm using instead and I'm ready to move on from Adobe Fireworks. So go through those. Don't fear that message. There's nothing you need to do right now. You still have probably eight, nine, ten months before there's another version of Mac OS that will actually make these apps so they don't work. So you're fine for now. If you have an older Mac it may be that Mac OS Mojave is the last version you're going to update to anyway.

Now one thing to pay attention to is the fact that if you say I'm going to stick with Mojave just so I can run these old apps. That may be fine but your next Mac isn't going to be able to run Mojave. Right. If whatever is after Mojave is the current operating system new Macs only run on the operating system that exists there when they came out and forward. They don't go back. So eventually you're going to have to find a solution. If an app has been abandoned by the developer or you're unwilling to pay for an update it's time to find a solution now while you can make an easy transition rather than being forced into it when you suddenly have to get a new Mac one day or decide it's time to update for other reasons.

Apple Link: 32-bit app compatibility with macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 and later.

Comments: 19 Responses to “What To Do About Those Mojave “App Is Not Optimized” Messages”

    Ron
    3 weeks ago

    Nice concise presentation re: 32 bit apps. Is that rumor true that the next version of macOS is nicknamed “Death Valley” because it kills all the 32 bit apps? ;)

    3 weeks ago

    Ron: Funny. (But for those wondering, of course not).

    Don Palmer
    3 weeks ago

    Can you delete apps directly from the System Information list ? Thank You.

    3 weeks ago

    Don: No. You uninstall apps in LaunchPad, or using the instructions from the developer if the app didn’t come from the Mac App Store.

    Mick Hancock
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks – this is a great help, BUT…. with many of these ‘not optimised’ messages, I can’t even figure out which app the message refers to and I have no idea how to contact the developer as Apple suggest. I have only watched your video once, so if this is all covered already, then please accept my apologies.
    Thanks
    Mick

    2 weeks ago

    Mick: The messages say the name of the app right in the message.

    Michael Nelson
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks Gary, very timely advice as always. One question: my wife and I get these periodically on our Mojave iMacs that identify a “process” or the like, with a fairly abstract name, not an easily identifiable app or anything we are knowingly using (or need). Is it best we just let things go as is and then let the new OS next Fall deal with it, send it to software purgatory so to speak? Thanks.

    2 weeks ago

    Michael: Search for the process name in Google. You usually come up with some clues that tell you which app the process belongs to pretty easily.

    Bobbi Sloan
    2 weeks ago

    H iGary, I’m still using CS6 (because I don’t want to use the Adobe’s cloud version of the app. I have a 2017 macbook pro running with Mojave, and I have received those messages for InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Do you have a suggestion for an app that will run in future OS versions that is similar to InDesign? Thanks!

    2 weeks ago

    Bobbi: Why not InDesign? I mean if it is the best app for the job and you are using it professionally, then why the resistance to paying for Adobe’s software? That is especially true if you are using not one, but three of Adobe’s apps? Then it looks like a pretty good value.

    Bernie
    2 weeks ago

    Hi, Gary. Love your articles. I have one question that is a serious concern. Hope you can help. I’m using Microsoft Word 2011 on my desktop iMac. I periodically get that message. Will I always be able to use Word on this computer? So far everything is cool. Hope so for the future. Thanks, Gary.

    Bobbi Sloan
    2 weeks ago

    Hi, Gary, you hit the nail on the head and I should have included this reason in my first email…I am retired now with just one or two freelance clients a year. 95% of my InDesign use is for my own “dabbling”…ie, creating greeting cards for friends’ birthdays, creating a children’s book about learning colors (not for sale, just for my friends who are grandparents), etc. So, I can’t really afford to pay Adobe’s costs…and I agree, if I were earning more professionally I would be open to that!

    2 weeks ago

    Bernie: You can continue to use your old copy of Word on your Mac for now. The message is just a warning. But you’ll need to update to a newer version of Word before you update to the next major version of macOS, which will probably be out in the fall. Word has had many updates since 2011.

    2 weeks ago

    Bobbi: Your choices then are to find alternative software in the Mac App Store or elsewhere, or to never update your Mac past Mojave. Of course if one day your Mac fails or you simply wish to get a new one, then you’ll be on the latest OS and be forced to move on from the old software.

    Bobbi Sloan
    2 weeks ago

    Gary, thanks, I will continue to look for an InDesign-like program…maybe shareware…if it’s OK I’d like to suggest that to “Bernie” who asked about his 2011 version of Word. I would have also had to update for the same reason, but was guided by a friend to a shareware program called “OpenOffice” which is free, and runs similar and compatible versions of Word and Excel…again, I don’t use these programs “professionally” and they work great for my purposes. Thanks btw for your quick responses!

    Margaret
    2 weeks ago

    Great information. Thank you Gary. I’ve deleted a rant about Apple! I’m with Bobbi Sloan- retired and use programs for hobbies.

    John Breeze
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Gary, I have looked at the list in system report of applications and it says “no information”. Any ideas Love your posting by the way.

    2 weeks ago

    John: Maybe try a reboot and then wait for a while on that screen. I’ve never seen “No Information” appear there. Of course, it is only a convenience, so you may want to decide not to worry about it.

    poppy fogarty
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Gary,
    Thanks so much for the info. I am now armed with the information and know what to do.
    Much appreciated

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