My goal is to have access to the install of my old Mac on my new Mac without operating two Macs side-by-side. The configurations are:

  • Old Mac:
    • El Capitan 10.11.6
    • Intel processor
  • New Mac
    • Ventura 13.0
    • Apple M1 processor

The reason is that I will need some applications from the old Mac for which I don't have equivalents on the new Mac.

Is there a possibility to run these older apps on the new Mac in virtualised or emulated environment on the new Mac like Parallels, VMWare or another app?

  • 1
    Which applications are you referring to? I ask because Macs with M1 processors can use Rosetta 2 to run 64 bit Intel based applications. Nov 5, 2022 at 7:37
  • I have a 2010 version of Microsoft Office that I find more than sufficient for my needs. So I'd rather not have to buy a new one. I'm currently experimenting with LibreOffice, but ideally I'd like to use my old MS Office copy. I also have an older Adobe CS6 version that I'd like to run. The icons show up with an overlayed circle and strikethrough. Opening one of these apps, I get the message "XYZ needs to be updated". Nov 7, 2022 at 0:51
  • 1
    I have 2011 version of Microsoft Office, Adobe CS5 and CS6 applications. I am currently trying to get these to run on a refurbished 2018 Intel Mac mini with Ventura. Using Parallels to run these applications in older versions of OS X and macOS seems to work so far. I do not think this is possible with a M1 Mac. From reading the answers and comments posted so far, I think you will not be able to run your older applications with any reasonable performance on your new M1 Mac. Nov 7, 2022 at 1:09
  • 1
    After some investigation, I see Photoshop CS6 is a 64 bit application. So I tried installing in macOS Catalina, which supports 64 bit applications, but not 32 bit applications. I discovered, the installer for Photoshop CS6 will not execute, because the installer is 32 bit. Nov 7, 2022 at 4:59
  • @DavidAnderson So if the app itself is 64 bit (and therefore should run on the new machine) shouldn't it be possible to transfer the executables (app folder) and preferences over? — I just had a look at my system (via System Information > Software > Applications) and my incarnation of Photoshop CS6 v13.0.6 and is 64 bit, so is Illustrator CS6, but strangely not InDesign CS6. Nov 7, 2022 at 5:37

3 Answers 3


Is there a possibility to run these older apps on the new Mac in a virtual environment on the new Mac like Parallels, VMWare or another app?

Yes! The best solution for older macOS is UTM, which is actually just QEMU. I’ve used QEMU for old Intel virtual machines (via emulation), despite it is very slow. I'll try to impress on you how slow; imagine taking your El Capitan 10.11.6 virtual machine and run it on an original Intel Pentium from 1993. That is the level of performance you will experience.

A comparison of technologies:

Feature QEMU Fusion Parallels
Type Emulation &
Virtualization Virtualization
Speed Emulation (slow)
Virtualization (fast)
Fast Fast
Limitations Configuration is
not trivial
Tech Preview
does not
macOS yet
is Monterey
Intel CPU
Via Emulation None, likely
None, likely

Virtualization is emulation of hardware, such as Ethernet, Bluetooth, Disk controllers, and boot environments (EFI). The operating system has to be the same CPU architecture.
Emulation is virtualization of the CPU, which is required to run an Intel operating system on an ARM system like the Apple M1/M2. Virtualization of hardware may also be required.

The technology in QEMU to emulate began in 2009, the only other similar project is Bochs. QEMU is clearly the better performing of the two.

For an example of exactly how slow, in this article they ran Geekbench inside an Intel emulated system. The emulated Intel scored 68, but a native M1 scored 1730. That is a loss of 96% of the speed of native.

  • 1
    For the sake of the original question, which was about the practicality of using applications that only run on El Capitan and not Monterey/Ventura, I think it is important for this answer that it is not really a practical answer. If you expect to be able to fire up UTM/qemu and just run "that old Word Processor" (or whatever it might) to edit "that old document".... it's not really that smooth. You should be prepared to wait 10 minutes just to start up the system, and then additional minutes for launching "that old program"... everything is just insanely slow compared to even an old Mac.
    – jksoegaard
    Nov 5, 2022 at 13:34
  • @jksoegaard good point, I copied the question in as a quote and made a point of expanding on just how painfully slow this will be. Nov 5, 2022 at 16:00
  • 1
    Xcode allows you to set a minimum (in that case 10.11) OS supported. Xcode 14.1 for example can make applications run on 10.13+. I believe some of the Xcode 13.x releases supported 10.11 OS. So some apps were compiled that way. It's implemented by adding extra code to handle the different ways to do some non-portable things for each OS. Nov 7, 2022 at 1:51
  • 1
    @AlexIxeras Another point that might not be obvious, the last several Xcode versions produce 64 bit code for both Intel and ARM. So it works on any supported macOS. Nov 7, 2022 at 2:49
  • 1
    It’s still applicable, you’d just need to swap VMWare for UTM. 1) Install Monterey in UTM, 2) Add a second disk, 3) Download El Capitain in the VM and run to get the installer. 4) Install on the second disk. 5) Move the second disk to a new VM. Nov 8, 2022 at 12:39

The problem is the difference in CPU architecture. Virtualization works because the software is just pretending to be another OS running on the same sort of CPU as it would do natively.

When you 'mix' CPU types, then the VM has to translate the Intel code into ARM instructions in real time, instead of just passing it on to the CPU. This is usually called "emulation", not "virtualization".

Apple already provides Rosetta, which creates a translated version of an application's code: but doing the translation at the OS level is much more difficult (because most of what an OS does is about controlling hardware) and involves a large performance penalty for the extra work.

In short: your goal of having a virtual copy of your old Mac on your new one is not practicable.

Either keep your old Mac and use Screen Sharing or Universal Control to access it from your new Mac; or just migrate all your files and use new versions of your apps.


According to Parallels - you can run an older version of MacOS as a Guest Operating System, but there are limitations. In short, you can only run the ARM version of MacOS 12 or 13 on your M1 Mac.

Regarding VMWare - it looks like the latest version that runs on M1 Macs is currently a tech preview, version 22H2. According to VMWare's release notes:

  • Fusion will not support running VMs across different architectures. (I.e. no x86_64 VMs on M1 Macs).
  • macOS virtual machines are out of scope for this release, but it’s something we’re looking into.

So, currently, neither of these applications will support running El Capitan in a virtualized manner on your M1 Mac under Ventura. Perhaps you can investigate if the applications you need will run on 10.12 on an M1 machine under Rosetta 2. Check here for some background on this.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .