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32-bit Macs and 64-bit Macs: What is the Difference?

Mar 26, 2018 10:43:00 AM / by BaseQi

mac 32 bit or 64 bit

Have you ever wondered about the distinction between a 32-bit Mac and a 64-bit Mac? Then you’re most likely not alone. The differences between a 32-bit operating system (OS) and a 64-bit operating system can be confusing to a lot of people, especially those who are not very tech-savvy.

You don’t need to worry, though. This article will help you differentiate the two and determine whether your Mac has a 32-bit OS or a 64-bit OS. So, read on.

32-bit versus 64-bit Mac

The first thing you should know is that both the 32-bit and the 64-bit refer to the amount of RAM that can be used by your Mac OS and all the apps contained within it. However, operating systems are not the only ones with 32-bit and 64-versions—programs do too. Here’s how the two vary.


    • A 32-bit system can only access about 4GB worth of RAM to be used the OS and all its apps.

    • A 32-bit OS will not accept 64-bit programs.

    • 32-bit programs can be installed on both 32-bit and 64-bit systems.


    • A 64-bit system allows for significantly more of the RAM to be accessed by the OS and its apps.

    • Both 32-bit and 64-bit programs can be installed on a 64-bit OS.

    • A 64-bit plugin will only run on a 64-bit program.

    • A 64-bit program installed on a 64-bit OS can maximize its RAM to allow for the running of resource-intensive tasks.

    • A 64-bit OS does not add speed to the computer, so is therefore not faster than a 32-bit OS. It just allows for more RAM access.

Check your Mac: 32-bit or 64-bit

If you’re curious about your Mac and want to find out whether it has a 32-bit or a 64-bit OS, just follow these instructions.

  1. Click on the Apple icon on the top-left corner of your screen.

  2. On the dropdown menu, select About This Mac.

  3. On the window that appears, you’ll see what your MacBook’s processor is, which will indicate whether it has a 32-bit or a 64-bit OS.

Here’s a list of some Mac processors and whether they are 32-bit or 64-bit.


    • Intel Core Solo

    • Intel Core Duo


    • Intel Core 2 Duo

    • Intel Core i3

    • Intel Core i5

    • Intel Core i7

    • Intel Xeon Dual-Core

    • Intel Xeon Quad-Core

Your Mac is not likely to be a 32-bit system unless it’s a model from 2006 or earlier.

Choosing between a 32-bit OS and a 64-bit OS

On the list above, you’d probably notice that older systems were 32-bit while the newer ones were 64-bit. Even though 64-bit systems are now the norm, there are still 32-bit systems out there in the form of older MacBooks and iMacs that people have not replaced.

This is why programs ask you if your OS is 32-bit or 64-bit prior to installation. The program you are trying to install won’t run if it’s 64-bit and your Mac is 32-bit. In fact, the program won’t even allow you to proceed with the installation. Meanwhile, a 32-bit program can be installed on a 64-bit OS. That’s one benefit of having a 64-bit OS.

As previously mentioned, another advantage of a 64-bit OS is that it allows for much more of your RAM to be utilized. This means that if your Mac has 64-bit OS, you can run more demanding tasks on it.

So, the question is: Which one is better for you? To the average user, the difference in performance between a 32-bit computer and a 64-bit computer is negligible. If you just watch movies and videos, browse online, and edit documents, there’s no problem in sticking with your old 32-bit Mac.

However, if you wanted to run more memory-intensive programs like photo and video editing apps, animation software, or rendering programs, your best bet is to get a 64-bit Mac. This way, you’ll be able to get more out of the Mac without having to sacrifice performance.


A 32-bit Mac is suitable for normal usage such as browsing, document editing, and other similar tasks. On the other hand, a 64-bit Mac is better for memory-intensive tasks such as photo and video editing, 3D rendering, and design.


Hi, we are team Baseqi, thank you for reading our blog. We are a technology startup founded by a team of passionate designers and Apple fanatics. Our goal is to design unique and high-quality accessories at cutting edge prices for all Apple lovers.


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Written by BaseQi

Our company officially started in 2013. Since then, we have fans purchasing our products from all over the world. Our mission is to invent stylish accessories and gadgets for fans around the world.

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