My father runs an old version of MacOS, I believe Mountain Lion, with a full set of Adobe apps, Suitcase Fusion, and so on from back when they were all 'buy-once' products. Reading around, almost none of it is likely to run on the latest version of MacOS without serious issues.

The OS's age has become a problem for almost everything else - the latest browsers won't run so more and more websites are unusable, and most downloadable software simply won't install (we had to dual-boot it with the highest OS that the hardware supports just to allow him to do iPad sync).

I've read that it should be possible to buy a newer Mac and run a virtualised copy of Mountain Lion in something like Parallels. Presumably it would then be possible to transplant an image of his old boot drive to be able to run the creative software.

Is there any reason that doing so might not be a good option? And can anyone comment on how well old Adobe apps run inside a VM, both in terms of performance and potential compatibility issues?

(The creative software is the main thing he uses the Mac for, so if it's going to be sluggish or painful to use in practice then maybe a different plan would be better.)

Edit: Sorry - a bit more detail!:

iMac 24-inch, Early 2009, 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 8Gb DDR3, Geforce 9400 256Mb, upgraded with an SSD boot drive

OS X 10.8.5, and Adobe Suite CS5

(No specific model in mind as an upgrade, min spec recommendation welcome)

  • What are the specs of the Mac?
    – lhf
    Dec 3, 2020 at 15:40
  • 1
    Virtualizing macOS is of course doable, however IMO it does not perform as well as Windows and Linux do. That said, the only person whose opinion ready matters is that of the individual that's using it, in this case your father. Unfortunately, the only way to get that is to build out a VM and let him play with it and see if it's acceptable. Dec 3, 2020 at 17:15
  • I may be wrong in this, but it sounds as if you are asking if the virtualized system will suffer some kind of performance hit if run on current hardware. Am I correct?
    – agarza
    Dec 4, 2020 at 1:32
  • Yes more or less. I'm trying to get a feel for whether virtualisation is good for everyday use in this context, both in terms of performance and compatibility. I'm guessing that there's some overhead in it, but perhaps that can be offset in the difference between the above hardware and a more recent iMac?
    – jlmt
    Dec 5, 2020 at 3:11

1 Answer 1


This is difficult, at best, to tell without the specs on the current Mac and what Mac you are planning on getting. Even then determining how well the Adobe apps in question will run is entirely subjective. How "well" something will run depends on how the person using the virtualized macOS perceives it to run.

That said, you should likely not purchase an entry level model of Mac (EG cheapest, iMac, cheapest MacBook, cheapest Mac mini, etc) with base level storage and RAM.

That said Parallels (and for that matter VMware Fusion) will both allow you to virtualize macOS on macOS and provide the ability to run those Adobe Apps that your father uses.

Note that transplanting an image of the old Mac's drive to use in the virtualization software might be more problematic than just installing a fresh copy of Mountain Lion in your virtualization environment, updating it and then using Migration Assistant to copy over his settings and apps. However other people may have better advice on that front.

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