Want to know if your Mac is running on a 32-bit or 64-bit processor, OS, and software? This guide will explain how to tell if your Mac is 32-bit or 64-bit.
Just a few years ago, most computers were running on 32-bit processors, OSes, and software. This included macs. But with the launch of better, more powerful, and versatile 64-bit processors, OS and software developed with 64-bit versions to take full advantage of them.
If you are wondering what the hell I am rambling about, then keep reading to know more about 32-bit and 64-bit version macs. I know many less tech-savvy people who still use 32-bit version software and sometimes 32-bit macOS even though their mac supports 64-bit.
This article will explain how to tell if your Mac is 32-bit or 64-bit along with how to upgrade from 32-bit OS and software to 64-bit versions.
To determine if your Mac is running on a 32-bit or 64-bit system, follow these steps. Click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen, then select “About This Mac.”
In the window that appears, click on “More Info.” Look for the “Processor Name” in the displayed information and compare it to the provided list.
If your processor is listed as Intel Core Solo or Intel Core Duo, it is 32-bit. However, if it is Intel Core 2 Duo or any newer processors such as Core i3, i5 or i7, then it is 64-bit.
What are 32-bit and 64-bit OS and software
There are Operating Systems (OS) and software for both 32-bit and 64-bit processors but 32-bit is kind of an ancient technology now. Almost all modern processing is done on 64-bit processors. The main difference between 32-bit and 64-bit is the amount of RAM they can use.
A 32-bit processor, OS, or software can only use up to 4GBs of RAM. Because of this limitation, you can only install 32-bit OS and software, and even if you were able to install 64-bit OS or software, the system will only utilize 4GB of RAM.
On the other hand, modern 64-bit processors can run 32-bit and 64-bit OS and software, this is because they can access more than 4GB of RAM. 64-bit processors are also more powerful and secure than 32-bit ones.
Nowadays you don’t have to worry about choosing a 32-bit processor by mistake as almost all consumer products like computers, smartphones, and more use 64-bit processors. But in case you are running an old Mac from around 2010, then there is a good chance that it is running a 32-bit processor, or 32-bit OS and software.
Even older 64-bit Mac and computers were given the option to run 32-bit or 64-bit OS and software, so your Mac might be running a 32-bit version of macOS or software which can hamper performance. Check how to tell if your mac is 32-bit or 64-bit and how to upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit if you can.
You can tell if your Mac is 32-bit or 64-bit. First, is the processor 64-bit, and second, is the OS 32-bit or 64-bit? You can check both to find out if you are running in the correct mode.
To check if your processor is 32-bit or 64-bit, follow these steps,
Step 1 On your Mac, click on the Apple menu.
Step 2 Now select About This Mac.
Step 3 Choose More Info in the window that opens.
Step 4 Locate the Processor Name.
Step 5 Check and compare the processor with the below list to determine if it’s 32-bit or 64-bit.
32-bit or 64-bit
Intel Core Solo
Intel Core Duo
Intel Core 2 Duo
Intel Quad-Core Xeon
Intel Dual-Core Xeon
Intel Core i3
Intel Core i5
Intel Core i7
If your processor is 32-bit, then it can only run 32-bit OS and software. But if your software is 64-bit, then it can run 32-bit or 64-bit OS and software. So if you want to check if your macOS is 32-bit or 64-bit, continue reading.
Note that macOS Mountian Lion 10.8 and later don’t support running 32-bit mode so, if your Mac is recent, then there is no chance it will be running 32-bit OS mode. But if you or if a family member is using an old Mac then you can check if your macOS is 32-bit or 64-bit, follow these steps,
Step 1 On your Mac, click on the Apple menu.
Step 2 Select About This Mac from the menu.
Step 3 Now, click on More Info from the window that opens.
Step 4 Clik on Software from the Contents pane.
Step 5 Here if the 64-bit Kernel and Extensions is set to Yes, then you are running a 64-bit version of macOS. But if the 64-bit Kernel and Extensions option is set to No, then you are running a 32-bit version of macOS.
To switch between 32-bit and 64-bit mode, follow these steps,
Step 1 Power off your Mac.
Step 2 When powering it back on, hold the 6 and 4 keys during startup. This works only if your Mac supports 64-bit mode but defaults to 32-bit when booting up. Note that, if you want to boot to 32-bit mode, press and hold 3 and 2 keys during startup.
Your Mac will revert to the default mode when you reboot again. Also upgrading to the latest version of macOS that is Mountian Lion and later, will automatically boot your Mac into 64-bit mode only.
If you are running a 32-bit version of software on a 64-bit macOS system, then you are leaving performance on the table. A 64-bit version of the software will be better as it can use full power and all the RAM in the Mac to run efficiently.
Note that macOS Catalina and later don’t support 32-bit software, so if you are running them, you don’t have to worry about 32-bit software slowing down your workflow.
There are multiple ways that you can use to check if your Mac is running 32-bit or 64-bit software. Check them out below,
How to check if you are running 32-bit apps using System Report
System Report is software built into Macs that offers information about your Mac. You can use it to check if your Mac is running 32-bit or 64-bit software too. Just follow the steps below on how to do it,
Step 1 On your Mac, click on the Apple menu and select About This Mac.
Step 2 Click on the System Report button from the Overview section.
Step 3 Now scroll down on the left column of System Report to the Software section and click on Applications.
Step 4 Wait for a few seconds to allow your Mac to find all the software installed. Once the list is ready, you will see two sections, the top one with the list of software and the bottom section with information about the software. You can also resize the sections if needed by holding and dragging the divider using the dot in the middle. Click on any software to check its details.
Step 5 You can check if the software is 32-bit or 64-bit from two places in this window.
In the top section, there is a column named 64-bit (Intel), if this says Yes, then the software is 64-bit, if it says No, then the software is 32-bit.
In the bottom section, scroll and find the 64-bit (Intel) row, if this says Yes, then the software is 64-bit, if it says No, then the software is 32-bit.
Read on to know the other methods to find if your software is 32-bit or 64-bit on Mac.
How to check if you are running 32-bit apps using Activity Monitor
Another way to check if you are running 32-bit apps on your Mac is by using the Activity Monitor. This is also an inbuilt macOS application so it is easy to use as you don’t have to download anything. Check out how to check if you are running 32-bit apps using Activity Monitor,
Step 1 Launch the Activity Monitor app. You can do this by going to Applications then Utilities.
Step 2 In the CPU section, you will find a list of running apps on your Mac. Right-click on the top row of categories and select Kind.
Step 3 Now, you will see a new column on the top brown called Kind. You can increase the column size or change its position if you want to.
Step 4 You can check if an app/software is 32-bit or 64-bit in the Kind column.
How to check if you are running 32-bit apps using a third-party app like Go64
Go64 is a cool app that you can use to check if any software is running on 32-bit or 64-bit versions. It also lets provides users with links to the developer site so you can download a 64-bit version of the software if you are still running the 32-bit version.
Now that you know which apps are running 32-bit versions, you can upgrade them for use on later macOS and better performance.
Upgrading most involves downloading the 64-bit version of the software and installing it, but sometimes you can also upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit from the App Store itself. To upgrade an app/software from 32-bit to 64-bit, do the following,
If the app was downloaded or bought on Apple’s App Store then check for updates in the App Store for the app. You can do this by clicking on Updates in the left column of the App Store.
Check the software developer’s website for a 64-bit version of the app and download it from there.
Some apps/software can search for updates from within the app. In such cases, the app will usually prompt you to update when you launch the app. So keep an eye out for updates.
M1 Macs are 64-bit only. They don’t support 32-bit OS or software. All Macs since launched with macOS Mountain Lion and later run only 64-bit OSes, while all Macs with macOS Catalina and later only support 64-bit software.
32-bit Mac vs 64-bi Mac : Which is Better?
|Processes data in 32-bit format
|Processes data in 64-bit format
|Limited to 4GB RAM usage
|Can utilize more than 4GB of RAM
|Compatible with 32-bit software
|Compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit software
|May be less efficient on modern apps
|Efficient performance on modern apps
|Can run on older Mac models
|Incompatible with some older hardware
|Potentially lower security compared to 64-bit
|Enhanced security features
|Limited access to system resources
|Can access more system resources
|Limited support for future technologies
|Compatibility with newer technologies
|Suitable for older systems and software
|Recommended for modern Macs and applications
It’s worth noting that the choice between 32-bit and 64-bit systems depends on specific needs, software requirements, and hardware compatibility.
For optimal performance and compatibility with modern software and technologies, it’s generally recommended to use a 64-bit Mac system.
Though 32-bit processors, OS, or software is not in development anymore for Macs, many old Macs are still running some sort of 32-bit software or hardware. While hardware is impossible to upgrade, the software can be upgraded.
32-bit is a technology of yesteryears, it is slow, less secure, and old when compared to 64-bit. So, it is wise to know what you arousing, if your Mac is still 32-bit, then it is time for an upgrade. Either the whole Mac can be replaced or just the software can be upgraded.
The above article contains details for all of this including how to tell if your Mac is 32-bit or 64-bit and how to upgrade if it is running 32-bit OS and software.