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MacOS – How to check if an application is 64bit from the command line (Terminal)

macOS – How to check if an application is 64bit from the command line (Terminal)

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Home Forums Hardware Apple/Mac Hardware macOS – How to check if an application is 64bit from the command line (Terminal)

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Anonymous 1 year, 5 months ago.

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  • 10541

    hans
    Keymaster

    There are several ways to test if an application is either 32 bit or 64 bit – besides the new “warning” Apple throws at folks (which appears per application only once). 

    In Terminal this can be done with the “file” command, but the trick is that you have to point “file” to the actual binary.
    For example, just going to Applications -> VLC will NOT do the trick, since VLC is just a folder named VLC.app. macOS see this as an application bundle but presents it as a single file. Instead you have to go into the VLC.app folder, and in there Contents/MacOS directory to go find the binary (right click the file in Finder and choose “Show Package Content”). 
    In Terminal, taking VLC as an example:

    cd /Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/

    With the “ls” command you can see what the binary is

    $ ls -l
    total 80
    -rwxr-xr-x@   1 hans  staff  38880 Feb 26 21:33 VLC
    drwxr-xr-x@   3 hans  staff     96 Feb 26 21:05 include
    drwxr-xr-x@   6 hans  staff    192 Feb 26 21:32 lib
    drwxr-xr-x@ 342 hans  staff  10944 Feb 26 21:32 plugins
    drwxr-xr-x@   5 hans  staff    160 Feb 26 21:05 share

    Based on the properties we can see that the file VLC a binary is, so now using the “file” command gives us:

    $ file VLC 
    VLC: Mach-O 64-bit executable x86_64

    So here we see that VLC is an actual 64 bit application (x86_64). 

    Below a test example of one of my projects to show a 32 bit example (i386):

    $ file project1
    project1: Mach-O executable i386
    10545

    hans
    Keymaster

    Note that you can also use COMMAND+i (or right click – Get Info) when selecting a file in the applications directory of course (see 2 sample screenshots).

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