How to play The Sims 3 on a Mac

These threads and guides are not definitive nor exhaustive but they have proved extremely popular on my website and do seem to have helped frustrated Simmers along the way. The locked ‘help’ thread on here by simguruhydra has not been updated in over 3 years. Unfortunately us Mac Simmers have to help each other as EA do not offer much support for OS X, if any. If you receive advice from Customer Support to quit Processes on your Mac PLEASE ignore it. For a detailed explanation please read this.

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.

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!


If you play with Mods, these must be moved out prior to patching. You should then update your Mods accordingly.

CC & Mods:

I don’t use any CC and have never used Mods but here’s a super duper guide on where to install CC and Mods to, courtesy of itsaprilXD.

Primary things to try first (especially if your Launcher doesn’t open or your game will not load):

  • The first step to trying to figure out how to get your game working again is to try a new game, without any CC, mods, saves etc. This will help figure out if your install is dodgy or you have corrupted data. Doing this is simple, open your Documents folder then open the Electronic Arts folder. You will see one folder in there called The Sims 3. Drag this to the desktop DO NOT DELETE IT. This folder holds all your game data like downloaded content, saves and everything precious to your game.
  • Now, fire up your game (it regenerates the folder you just moved) and see if you can play with a new Sim in a new world. Make sure you open CAS and make sure you try out Build/Buy mode. Try playing for at least an hour or so. If that works then the installed game and EPs/SPs is fairly stable so the issue lies somewhere within the folder you moved out. The difficult part is figuring out where the problem is within the data. You will need to move back your CC/Saves/Downloads/Mods etc. bit by bit from the folder you moved out to the newly generated folder to work out where the problem lies.
  • To put your game back to how it was (not working presumably if you had to just do that step!), navigate through to the Electronic Arts folder again and trash the Sims 3 folder the game just recreated. Put your old folder, the one you moved to the desktop, back in it’s place.
  • Navigate to the Electronic Arts folder again, this time opening The Sims 3 folder. Trash the following files:
    • CASPartCache.package
    • compositorCache.package
    • scriptCache.package
    • simCompositorCache.package
    • socialCache.package

Now try loading your game again. These files are regenerated.

  • If you want to know more about your game’s user folder have a look here on the Sims Wiki page. All the individual files and folders are explained.
  • Tremayne4260 has posted some great tips on trying to get your game going in this post.

Constant crashing:

If your game is constantly crashing you’re probably running out of RAM during gameplay. This is due to Cider not being able to access more than 2Gb RAM. You need to manually free up your Mac’s RAM so the game always has access to more memory. You can download various Apps to do this or you can do it yourself VERY easily using Terminal which is already built into OS X. See this page on instructions –

Downloaded content not showing up:

If your Store downloads aren’t showing up in game try deleting the missingdeps.idx file (thanks to Crinrict), the game will regenerate a new one:

Finder > Documents > Electronic Arts > The Sim 3 > DCCache > missingdeps.idx

This isn’t a sure fire fix as Origin seems to be causing a lot of issues with the Launcher but it’s worth a try. For more info read Crinrict’s blog post here.

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. Instructions on how to bypass the Launcher can be found here.

My Guides:

How to do a clean uninstall and reinstall on a Mac

Checking which patch version you’re running

Finding your serial key using Terminal

Resetting RAM

Saving Origin digital downloads

Unfortunately, because the game is not natively written for OS X, it is not the most stable of programs to run on your Mac. To understand it a bit better have a look here:

Understanding how The Sims 3 runs on a Mac

For general maintenance you could try these steps:

Get rid of MacKeeper if you have it, and some useful maintenance tips.

The only solution for a proper Simming experience on your Mac is to play it in Windows, the OS which the game was written for. For detailed instructions on how to install Windows on your Mac please read this thread:

How to install Windows using Boot Camp

Checking Exchange items and downloads for nasties (dodgy CC) – Julia526’s Mono tutorial:

How to use Delphys Dashboard and CUSTARD on Mac tutorial

You can also analyse your crash logs using Mono and the MTS Crash Log Analyser

There are numerous errors Simmers encounter whilst playing. And unfortunately there is no common denominator as to why some can play and some can’t. Two of us could have the exact same spec. Mac yet one can play and one can’t. The most important thing to bear in mind is that 99% of the time it is not because there is a problem with your Mac, it is Cider.

Patching your game to 1.67

Common Error Threads on the official forum:

Supernatural Issues

 Error 65538: 15000 (Unable to download from Origin) – thanks to katoo4 for posting the link to a solution.

My game keeps freezing

Error Code 12

Possible fix for Error Code 12 – thanks to kirby356

Custom Content not showing up in game

Disc Authorisation Failure & here

Exception Raised Error

Blacked out CAS

Can’t start game process

Ghosting images then crash to desktop

Thumbnail images showing red lines in Build/Buy mode, CAS, Main Menu

Known graphics issues: 

Graphics Glitches – NVIDIA GeForce GT cards identified

– This issue has now been fixed with patch 1.63 –

Intel Iris and Iris Pro issues

– possible workaround on page 2 of this forum thread, thanks to tmethei –

Error Code 12 Fix:

(takes you to external site – The Ever So Woderful Life of Zac M)

How To overcome Save Error code 12 on The Sims 3

Installation freezing at a certain file number:

For those suffering from a frozen installer, please post on this thread so we can try, once and for all, to fix it.

Unknown Error running Sims 3 in macOS El Capitan and Sierra

A very specific issue if you are attempting to run the game in El Capitan or Sierra and you have Late Night/Ambitions/Outdoor Living/Fast Lane installed. Links to workaround here.

Origin issues:

Caspinwall and Tremayne have a great thread going about issues to do with Origin. Please post in it whether you’re having problems or you know of any fixes to problems you’ve had:


34 thoughts on “How to play The Sims 3 on a Mac

  1. How do you sort out The sims 3 mac service initalization failed (0x0175dcbb)? Any help would be great full


  2. Lets start this out by just saying that I was literally just playing this game last night, and without the slightest of issues. There was nothing wrong, everything was in tip-top shape. Which brings me, undoubtedly, to my confusion when it comes to my issue. When I went to play it today the launcher would pop up, per usual, and ask me to play. I clicked the button to play, only to find myself looking at a black screen for nearly an hour before I finally gave up and had to force quit. I tried purging the RAM, uninstalling all CC, checking if my CC was clean, deleting cached files, and I would run the game in windowed mode if I could get that far. Please, please help.


  3. I have a question about dragging the Sims 3 file to the desktop and then replacing it…can you just explain step by step how I should do that? Because my game ran well off the new generated file. I am just a bit unclear about this, thats all. Thanks so much 🙂


    1. If your game works after recreating a new Sims 3 folder then it means something in the old folder is causing the issue you had. It could be saves or CC/Mods. First of all move your old saves back into the new folder, folder by folder and testing after each one. If the game doesn’t work then you most likely have a corrupted save. If it does work then repeat the process with your CC/Mods and Store content until it stops working. You’ll then know what is causing the issue.


  4. Ok, so I have restored all old downloads etc. and the problem isn’t happening. The only difference in the folders was that in my old folder, there are some files that are .txt files and .mdmp files.Are these necessary and are they what could have been causing my problem? I am now having no issues (so far) and I have tested CAS every time (which is where I was getting problems). Otherwise, should I be looking elsewhere?


    1. The .mdmp and .txt files are crash files so you don’t need to worry about those. As you’ve restored all the saves and downloads and it’s working again it could have just been a cache file issue. If it happens again just delete the cache files, as listed above, and try again 🙂


  5. Hello! Wondering if you have come across anything to do with customised graphic settings not saving? Whenever I start my game, the graphics revert back to factory settings and everything is set to low. Any ideas as to why it doesn’t save the settings with my game?


  6. Hello! Me again 🙂 I am just wondering if yo know anything about fixing the sim names that are coming up as a file path instead of their name, same with some community lots. I am playing in Riverview, and have a recently downloaded one. Thanks!


  7. Hi again!
    Sorry to be such a hassle, but do you have any other suggestions for a freezing game? I have tried the graphics card fix, didn’t work, I have also tried sudo purge after installing Xcode with no luck. My game just freezes and won’t come back to life. I’m on a Early 2015 MacBook Pro, OS 10.11.5. Have tried the Origin update too. Please help if you can! I’m getting really disheartened.


  8. Bluebell,

    I have registered all my serial codes through Origin and now I play through Origin. Recently I have installed Ambitions, but through the disk and the installation was successful. When I open up the Game Launcher, the Ambitions EP does not appear in the Launcher, and neither do any of the items or Twinbrook seem to appear in the game. How can I solve this? If you need more clarification let me know


      1. The issue is that Origin says the serial code for my copy of Ambitions has been redeemed. It’s a secondhand copy but the person I purchased it from definitely said they hadn’t used the game with Origin.


  9. Hi, first of all i’d like to say thank you for your effort in these easy-to-follow guides.. Ok, i have done the graphic things so my graphics are so AMAZING now.. compared to what I had before.. So, I go on to my game, select the town etc., but then the map is just grey and i can’t see it.. I can just about manage with it but.. PLZ HELP

    – Lola


  10. Hello and thanks for all your hard work on this… I hope I’m not going to need it. I’ve got my Mac fresh out the box and now really want Sims 3 again. I’m not going to play the old games I will download a new game and start from scratch… is there a version or will I still have all these issues? Thanks in advance.


  11. Hello
    Can anyone give me the exact location for the sims 3 and the expansionpacks in finder. I’m talking about: ‘The Sims™’ and e.g. ‘The Sims™ 3 University’
    I moved the .app files in finder, I don’t remember from which folder/location. Now the game wont start. I figue, I need to move them back again :)?? My Macbook has been restarted, so theres no ‘cmd z’. I downloaded the games via my origin account.

    Thanks for any help!


      1. Thank you for replying so fast!
        No, I think that ‘applications/the sims 3’ is the location for the alias. At least it is for me.
        I moved the original ‘.app’ file to this location (applications/the sims 3). Can you check, where your alias refers back to?


        1. The Applications folder always has the actual app in it. Aliases can be anywhere as they are shortcuts to the original app. The Expansion and Stuff Pack aliases show up in the folder as the originals are buried within the base game app.


          1. I found out the location of the expansion pack .apps: Applications/The Sims 3/Contens/Resources/AddOns/ 🙂 I put the files back – the game is working! Sorry for the inconvinience.

            (I deleted Fast Lane Stuff, emtied trash can, went to Origin, downloaded Fast Lane Stuff again, found the true location for the expansion pack .apps 🙂 )


  12. Alright. But the issues still remains: my game won’t start after I moved the ‘.app’ files to the applications/the sims 3 folder.
    When I try to uninstall an expansion pack with the uninstaller app (which is also located in applications/the sims 3 folder) a pop up message says: ‘Unable to find game to uninstall.’
    Do you know what to do then?


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