March 2013 - last edited a month ago
The Sims 3 is no longer updated to support macOS or the hardware Apple have used since 2013. Consequently this can result in a lot of issues when trying to get the game to work. Below you'll find various troubleshooting steps and links to all known issues and, where applicable, a workaround or potential fix.
The 5-step guide to installing the Sims 3 on a Mac
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Optimal gameplay tips
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Information you should be aware of:
Steps to try if your game will not load, crashes, or displays an error message:
Properly uninstalling the game or an individual Expansion/Stuff Pack:
If all else fails then be prepared to completely uninstall and reinstall your game in an effort to get it working again. Just using the uninstaller is not enough though as it leaves residual files behind which can cause issues with a new install. You must use the uninstaller, if available and not corrupted, and then manually remove the residual files. For full instructions on how to do this successfully please read this page. For uninstalling just an Expansion or Stuff Pack please read these instructions.
Known and common issues:
Click on the issue you are having to be taken to further help and instructions if available.
August 2015 - last edited March
Finding your Mac's specifications:
Click on the Apple icon in the top left corner of your desktop and select About This Mac. You should see a window like the one above. Please provide the following information (you may need to click on More Info depending on what operating system you're running). Do NOT include your serial number:
January 2016 - last edited March
Patching your game
For the best possible chance of successfully patching your game you should download and install the 1.67 patch manually. Due to Gatekeeper, a security feature built into OS X 10.7.5 Lion and later, you must have Administrator rights on your Mac's user account in order to run the patch. Full instructions on bypassing Gatekeeper and installing the patch can be found here.
To find out which patch version you're currently running look in the bottom left corner of the Launcher. If you cannot open the Launcher read these instructions for looking in the Info.plist file.
Bypassing the Launcher
Bypassing the Launcher can sometimes resolve issues of, amongst other things, the game hanging on startup, crashing during the intro and the base game icon bouncing up and down in your Dock but nothing else happening. Ashpeef has written great instructions on how to bypass here.
Saving and Quitting
ALWAYS pause your game and then Save. DO NOT Save & Quit. It is also a good idea to purge your RAM before you attempt to save. If your game is hanging or crashing whilst saving, and you have saved as recommended, then try your game without any CC/Mods. There is no magical perfect solution for the Save problems - please don't expect one!
Whenever you play the game you should play in windowed mode
To do this hold down CMD and press Return when the main game window launches. In the highly likely event of your game freezing/hanging you can then click anywhere on the desktop and go to the Apple logo, top left, and select Force Quit. This will save you having to power off your Mac using the power switch (which can damage the HD). Tabbing between apps you have open doesn't always work when you have the game running, hence the need to play in windowed mode.
August 2018 - last edited March
The 5-step guide to installing the Sims 3
Follow these steps, in this order, for the best possible chance of getting the game to run on your Mac. This does not 100% guarantee that the game WILL run but it gives you the best chance of hopefully playing. If you have previously had the game installed on your Mac make sure you have eradicated all traces of it by manually uninstalling the hidden files which the uninstaller doesn't remove. Also use that guide if your uninstaller cannot bee found or is corrupted. This guide has links to further detailed instructions for each process in order to keep the steps as concise as possible.
If at any stage of the installation process you receive a server error message please read these instructions to fix it.
Download and install the base game only. Once downloaded quit Origin. Now download and install the 1.67 patch. After patching launch your game. If it doesn't load or you receive an error message don't worry too much for now, move onto step 2.
If you have a 2013 or later model Mac it most probably has an unsupported graphics card/chip. You need to add your graphics to the GraphicsCards.sgr and GraphicRules.sgr game files. I have created a bunch of individual GraphicsCards.sgr and GraphicsRules.sgr files that you can download and copy/paste into your own sgr files here. After applying this fix you MUST check the deviceconfig.log file for the Found and Matched values. If your game has not generated the Sims 3 folder in your Documents > Electronic Arts folder then move onto steps 3,4,5 below and come back to step 2 afterwards. If your graphics card is not listed in my link please leave a comment and I will upload a test for you to download.
Install your first expansion or stuff pack, oldest first by release date. After installing open the Launcher and download any further patch if prompted. Launch the game then quit when you get to the main menu.
Step 4 (applicable only if you have one or more of the following packs - Ambitions, Late Night, Fast Lane, Outdoor Living):
These four packs are very problematic and the most common cause of the Unknown Error message. All packs must be present in the base game Application folder but these four are missing so you must add each one manually.
Step 5 (applicable only if you have one or more of the following packs - Ambitions, Late Night, Fast Lane, Outdoor Living):
The core game contents folder (which you should not normally have to worry about) for these four packs does not install properly so must be added to the pack which actually launches your game. For example, if Seasons is the most recent pack by release date you have installed then you add the contents folder to the Seasons folder. If you subsequently install a later pack, for example Into The Future, then you most copy the contents folder into the Into The Future folder. Don't worry if this sounds confusing, corey_0414 has uploaded a brilliant video tutorial here on how to do this. You absolutely MUST do this for each of the four packs. Best practice would be to copy over the folder(s) after installing each pack you own, launching your game after each install to check it is working.
If you do not have Ambitions, Late Night, Fast Lane, Outdoor Living then proceed to installing each pack in release date order, launching the game after each install to check the game is still working. If you're still having issues then please start a thread or post in an existing one and someone will help you.