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macOS has a clever free tool called Rosetta 2 which “translates” Intel only apps and programs so that they work on Apple Silicon M1 Macs and M2 Macs.

However, Rosetta 2 is not installed by default on M1 or M2 Macs and you’ll only be prompted to install it the first time you open an Intel only application or program.

However in some cases such as with anti-virus software or remote desktop software, you may not be prompted in which case you have to install Rosetta on a Mac manually.

Here we show you how to install Rosetta on an M1/M2 Mac and also find out which apps require Rosetta 2.

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What Is Rosetta For Mac?

Rosetta 1 was first invented by Apple back in 2006 when Macs transitioned from PPC chips to Intel chips to enable PPC compatible software to work on Intel chips.

In 2020, Rosetta 2 was released as Macs transitioned yet again from Intel chips to the new Apple Silicon M1 chips. Rosetta 2 only works on Apple Silicon Macs – you can’t install it on Intel Macs as Intel Macs don’t need it.

Once installed, Rosetta 2 automatically works in the background of macOS to make Intel only apps work on M1 and M2 chip Macs.

For most apps, Rosetta 2 works so seamlessly that you won’t notice much difference in the performance of an app using Rosetta compared to one that’s been built to work natively with M1/M2 Macs.

For example, even though there is no Apple Silicon native version of Sims 4 for M1 and M2 Macs, Rosetta 2 allows you to play Sims 4 on a Mac by translating the Intel version of EA Origin to work on M1/M2 Macs.

Rosetta is perfectly safe for your Mac and is made by Apple so you should have no security concerns.

However, for applications that require a lot of resources such as video editing software or graphic design apps, performance may be slower using Rosetta.

How To Install Rosetta On Mac

To install the latest version of Rosetta 2 on an M1 or M2 Mac, simply click on the Install button when the prompt appears.

rosetta on mac

After Rosetta 2 has been installed, you won’t have to install it again on your Apple Silicon Mac.

Install Rosetta on M1 & M2 Macs With Terminal

If for any reason you’re not prompted to install Rosetta 2 on your M1/M2 Mac, you can also install it using Terminal on your Mac.

Here’s how to install Rosetta manually on an M1 or M2 Mac.

  • Open Terminal on your Mac. If you can’t see it in your Dock, use the magnifying glass in the top right of your Mac to open Spotlight and search for “Terminal”.
  • Copy and paste the following command into the command line: /usr/sbin/softwareupdate –install-rosetta –agree-to-license
  • Press Enter.

Rosetta 2 will now install automatically on your M1/M2 Mac.

Installing Rosetta 2 On This System Is Not Supported

installing rosetta not supported on this system

If you getting the error message “Installing Rosetta 2 on this system is not supported” then it’s probably because of one of two reasons.

It may be because you’re trying to install Rosetta 2 on an Intel Mac (which do not need Rosetta 2) instead of an Apple Silicon Mac. Rosetta 1 works on Intel Macs but Rosetta 2 only works on Apple Silicon M1 & M2 Macs.

If you are using an Apple Silicon Mac to install Rosetta 2 and are still getting this error message, then it’s probably because you’ve checked the box “Open using Rosetta” in Terminal.

terminal open using rosetta check box

To uncheck this box, right-click on the Terminal app in your Dock or in your Applications folder and select “Get Info”.

Then uncheck the box “Open using Rosetta” and try installing Rosetta again in Terminal.

How To Check If Rosetta Is Installed On Mac?

You can check whether Rosetta has installed on a Mac by going to the Apple logo in the top left corner of your Mac and selecting About This Mac and then click on System Report and in the left hand margin select Software > Installations.

If you scroll down, you should see RosettaUpdateAuto which means that Rosetta is installed on your Mac. If this doesn’t appear, then it hasn’t installed on your Mac correctly.

check if rosetta installed mac

Which Apps Require Rosetta?

You can check which apps require Rosetta on your Mac by using the Get Info tool in macOS.

Here’s how to check which applications or programs require Rosetta on a Mac.

  • In Finder, go to Applications and Ctrl-Click on the Application you want to check.
  • Select Get Info from the drop down menu

rosetta for mac - get info

  • You’ll see a list of specifications for the app and next to “Kind” it will either say Application (Universal) which means it works on both Intel and M1/M2 Macs or Application (Intel) which means that it only works on Intel Macs and therefore requires Rosetta to work on an M1 Mac.

rosetta m1 mac

  • If it says Application (Universal) you need to check the box “Open using Rosetta” if it’s not already checked to make sure it works on M1 and M2 Macs.

How To Tell If An App Is Using Rosetta On M1 & M2 Macs

Once you’ve installed Rosetta on an M1 or M2 Mac once, you won’t be prompted to install it again.

The only way to tell if an app is using Rosetta or running natively is either to use the “Get Info” option described above.

Alternatively, you can go to the Apple logo in the top left of your Mac and selecting About This Mac > System Report and then under the “Kind” column you can see whether the app is Intel (and therefore using Rosetta) or Universal (and therefore running natively).

There’s also a nifty app called DigiDNA/Silicon which sits in your Menu bar and tells you whether the app is running natively on Apple Silicon or using Rosetta.

apple silicon rosetta

Can Rosetta 2 Run Windows Apps?

Rosetta cannot run Windows applications. It’s only designed to translate Intel Mac apps to work on Apple Silicon M1 and M2 Macs.

The only way to run Windows apps on a Mac is to install Windows on a Mac.

How To Uninstall Rosetta On M1 & M2 Macs

Most people will never need to uninstall Rosetta on a Mac after it has been installed on an Apple Silicon Mac.

However, if you’re using a Mac for testing, development or are a system administrator, you may need to remove Rosetta 2 from a Mac to see how certain apps and software performs without Rosetta installed.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to uninstall Rosetta 2 from a Mac because it installs deep within macOS and once installed, is SIP protected by macOS for security reasons.

This is why if you’re using a Mac for testing purposes and need to install and uninstall tools such as Rosetta, it’s much better to use a Virtual Machine (VM) such as Parallels.

Although Parallels is most commonly used to install Windows on a Mac, you can also use it to install macOS in a virtual environment that you can then easily install, uninstall and wipe the installation without affecting your Mac.

However, you can still uninstall Rosetta on a Mac although it requires temporarily disabling the SIP security feature in macOS.

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14 Responses

  1. MichaelH

    if an app is not universal aka Intel I would need to select Rosetta (hence purpose of Rosetta) so you’re saying same is need for Universal type. If its Universal why would I need addt’l software to run it?

    Reply
    • MacHow2

      Universal means the app works natively on both Intel and Apple Silicon. Intel only means it only works natively on Intel Macs and will require Rosetta to work on M1 and M2 Macs.

      Reply

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