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How to make Sims 3 work in macOS Sierra

When we upgraded all our Macs to macOS Sierra, my daughter was upset because Sims 3 broke. After much scouring of the internet, I found the solution and tweeted about it:

It dawned on me, though, that if that forum post ever vanishes, I’ll be in trouble with future new Macs and/or reinstalls, so I thought I’d document it here, too. Read no further unless you (or a family member) play Sims 3 and want to get it working in macOS Sierra. And really, try the linked forum post first; this is just a backup plan.

The following is quoted verbatim as posted by user “Ashpeef” on the Sims forums. I organized it as a numbered list and formatted some text, but left the content unchanged.


It’s probably the Launcher that crashes at the time it hands over control to the game itself. You could try starting the game directly, bypassing the Launcher. Here’s how (also a rather long story, I’m afraid…) :lol:

  1. Within your Applications folder, locate and open the folder The Sims 3
  2. Find the application The Sims 3.app, then right click (or hold the Control key and click if you can’t right click) to get the context menu.
  3. In that menu, select Show Package Contents. A new window opens with only one item: the folder Contents
  4. Within that folder there is a file info.plist (usually the second item)
  5. Right or Control click that file for the context menu and there select Open With
  6. You’ll probably have to scroll down almost to the bottom of the list to find TextEdit.app. Use that program to open the file.
  7. Now the real thing: locate the line <key>CedegaGameName</key> about 2/3rds down. Note: not the one just above it with CedegaGameDir!
  8. The next line should end ...Bin/S3Launcher.exe</string>
  9. Change S3Launcher.exe to TS3W.exe and save the file.

The next time you start the game, it should begin straight away with the EA and Maxis logos.

If you later on want to start with the Launcher again, just do the same thing, this time changing TS3W.exe back into S3Launcher.exe


To make this easier to do in the future, I made an alias of the info.plist file in our Documents folder. And as I’m not a masochist, I used BBEdit, not TextEdit, to edit the file.

10 Comments

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  1. Handy to know – but why did it break and how does the fix work? Use of the scary-looking “.exe” extension aside (with Parallels installed I’m nervous around these files) why would the game have multiple executables available to start it up?

    1. On our iMac in Sierra, it would hang at launch. Not sure why, but at least for us, something about Sierra broke the startup. Sims 3 is a “Wine port” of the PC game – basically, it means that they didn’t recode very much of it at all, and the game is running inside a simulated Windows machine. (I’m grossly oversimplifying here; see Wine for more info.)

      Anyway, the .exe bits are actual PC executable code. The game usually runs with a launcher app (.exe #1), from which you pick and launch the actual game (.exe #2). This change just removes the launcher so that the game itself launches on double-click.

      -rob.

  2. I was desperately looking on the web for an answer to my problem. My sims 3 game wouldn’t start on my iMac. I had played with it for like about 2 years and never faced any troubles since two months ago. I only recently made the connection with the mac sierra update, when my dad told me about me. I then found out your post, your explanations are so clear and simple. In less than five minutes the problem was solve and my sims worked again! I’m so glad, really, thank you so much!
    – S.

  3. When launching my base game “unknown error” would appear. I followed your instructions and now the big sims symbol launch screen appears but it’s followed by “service initialization failed”

    Any tips?

    1. I wish I did, but I don’t—I followed the linked blog post’s instructions, and stuff just worked. Maybe try posting there?

      -rob.

  4. Rob. My brother. Thank you.
    Just bought the Sims 3 yesterday and it’s been freezing after the launch window thing. Just booted right up. You are a gentleman.

    1. Glad you got it working—though ours no longer is, as I bought the kids a new 2017 iMac, and it’s a no-go. Sigh.

      -rob.

  5. THANK YOU! Finally I can play my sims 3 again! I scoured the internet looking for a way to fix it. THANK YOU!

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