SPSS and Mac OS Catalina

Having problems with SPSS on your Mac? Read on for a potential fix.

Hi all. As the usage of Mac OS Catalina and installations of SPSS ramp up over the exam period we have started to encounter one or two licensing and other complications occurring when installing SPSS 26 on Apple’s newest Mac OS.

A lot happened behind the scenes in the move from Mojave to Catalina – of particular interest, that relate to issues with SPSS, is the increased security Catalina has on the Documents, Downloads, & Desktops folders and any externally connected drives. This means that Catalina will block you from saving to any of those locations when using SPSS 26. It also means if you try to open a file all you will see is a blank area where files usually appear.

If you are installing SPSS 26 for the first time on Catalina you may also have trouble licensing your product.  Fortunately there are a few things that you can do to help:

  • Firstly I highly recommend that you make sure you have the most up to date version of OS Catalina installed, 10.15.4 at time of writing.
  • Next install the base version of SPSS 26 to your Mac, available via the Kent Software webpage. Do not attempt to license your product yet but make a note of the license key, you will need it later!
  • Download and install the SPSS 26 patch, available from IBM’s support pages (please note this link will take you to an external webpage)
    • The link will take you exactly where you need to go but please note you will need to create an IBMid to access this page. (login for IBM) It is free to do this

  • You should now be looking at the screen above,  download one of the following files, either will work, the ‘Silent Fix’ version has less buttons to click during the installation.
  • Launch the patch .dmg file and follow the on screen guide to install the patch.
  • Once installed you can now license your product by launching the SPSS license authorisation wizard.  You can search for that using Spotlight (cmd + space) or find the application in Launchpad.
  • Follow the instructions to license your product with the license key provided (saved from earlier!) make sure you select Authorized user license.
  • Your copy of SPSS 26 should now launch without issue and you will be able to save to and open files from all locations.

Get in touch with us at psychsupport@kent.ac.uk if you continue to have problems with your SPSS 26 installation.


Edit 22/06/20: IBM has a comprehensive article for running SPSS on Catalina, it also includes links to interim fixes for re-licensing SPSS 24 & 25 not covered here. (link will take you to an external webpage)


Special Mention:

Earlier I mentioned changes made in Catalina – this includes ending all support for 32bit applications this means you won’t be able to install, license or re-license earlier versions of SPSS as all of the previous license wizards are 32bit applications.

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