I have been using Numbers which I bought for 14 years without a problem. ( I took Numbers here as a typical example, to make the correct screen captures. I have the same problem with many Apple softwares. )

A few weeks ago I upgraded my MacBook Pro to Big Sur (which is the last version of macOS it will support).

I still have Numbers on my disk: Actual_Numbers_on_Big_Sur

But it cannot run natively on Big Sur since this is a 32 bit code. And rightfully, the Finder suggest me to download the latest version of Numbers from the App Store.

Recommended method: from my application

I followed this clear advice which seemed the normal way: I started App Store and discover that it find Numbers within my account, and even see it as fit to be opened right now. Αpp_Store_see_it_as_fit_to_open

I then tried to follow the evident easy path shown by App Store: click on OPEN. Just to discover the error message which brought me inside App Store: Αpp_Store_open_error

So App Store bring me the same recommendation to download the latest version of Numbers from App Store.

This looks as a high level of going round in circles in the way to manage a software download, or did I miss completely a fundamental detail?

I fully read the Apple page of documentation about finding the right version of a software for my running version of macOS, and it describes the process I followed.

Another method: search it

To find an emergency exit, I searched for Numbers from the App Store search function, and I got it: Αpp_Store_find_Numbers_but_requires_macOS_13

Unfortunately, this is also a dead end, as App Store present me a version which is not fit for the version of macOS I am running and this is a technical detail an application like App Store, dedicated to software distribution, should easily grasp (get the version of the OS, check the compatibility array, provide the best fit version of the software).

App Store provides 2 unfit versions?

Why is App Store presenting an old version which it knows cannot run on my version of macOS and next present too young a version which also cannot run on my version of macOS?

I thought App Store was the official way to get the right Apple software for any OS configuration. But I get 2 inappropriate versions. At least I have the freedom to chose between 2 paths. But I deeply feel as trapped in a nightmare.

Where is a correct documentation about an easy method to upgrade an Apple application to run on the macOS version a user is running?

I don't understand how it can be such a nightmare when, as a different example of software versions management, I have been able to upgrade more than 300 MacPorts applications without an error after the same Big Sur upgrade.

  • Please don't use code formatting (backticks) for non-code, it's confusing to read (especially for people with screen readers). Text can be formatted in bold or italics if necessary.
    – nohillside
    Commented Feb 23 at 9:46
  • What is the problem with screen readers ( I don't know what it is, and will search )? My personal way of writing is to use a typographical different font ( Courier) to clearly mark reserved words like if ( in programming language ) or words which are common nouns like number when they are used as a proper noun or as a make name like Numbers ( the software ). The way you modified my OQ made it totally unreadable for me. But I understand you didn't made it on purpose :).
    – dan
    Commented Feb 23 at 11:46
  • Screen readers are used by visually impaired users to get text translated to speech, usually these applications interpret formatting commands to describe what is on the screen. There are formatting commands to emphasize words, please use them if necessary (but keep in mind that nouns like Numbers or App Store are easily understandable within the context of this site).
    – nohillside
    Commented Feb 23 at 11:54
  • I am partially visually impaired. For example I cannot read italics because letters are too squeazed. I cannot read Helvetica and Arial because some letters are too ambiguous ( iIl1, DO0Q… ). This is the reason I use typographical rules deeply inspired from TeX which is using cmr for every reserved words. This help me a lot to quickly recognize words at a full word level. To make you laugh, I even use this typographical rule within Notes.
    – dan
    Commented Feb 23 at 12:29
  • 1
    I understand the need to make text visually appealing and easy to read. All I ask you is to use bold (and italics, but obviously not in your case) to emphasize words/terms you deem important, not code formatting.
    – nohillside
    Commented Feb 23 at 12:44

3 Answers 3


It's looks like the presence of your old iWork '09 apps is causing the App Store to show the "Open" button -- as it would if the current version were installed; instead of the download option -- as it would for any older version.

I would delete them (or otherwise render them unreadable) and then see if that allows you to download a version of the apps for Big Sur, from your Purchases.

We can only speculate on why the old apps don't trigger an "Update available" in the App Store. It's most likely a bug, given the rarity and low priority of the situation. (iWork apps became available through the App Store in 2013, and Catalina removed support for 32-bit apps in 2019.)


You have never "purchased" Numbers (as distinct from pre-App Store Numbers '09), so need to try some workarounds.

The second answer here is relevant to your situation How can I download an earlier version of an app to my macOS on the App Store?

The seconds answer, paragraph 4 says:

"If you have never installed the app before, you will need to find a computer running a newer version of macOS, sign in to the App Store there [with your Apple ID], and install the latest version of the app. Then you can return to your older macOS computer, and install the older version of the app from inside your purchases area."

I have tested this with a High Sierra virtual machine and was able to install the compatible version of Numbers. It is important to install Numbers from your Purchased items - not the usual search.


This is a Catch-22 in the App Store. If you never installed a version of Numbers compatible with Big Sur, it's now too late. You can, however, use the web-based version of the app in iCloud.


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