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

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

Here we show you how to install Rosetta on an M1 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.

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

For most apps, Rosetta 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 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 Mac, simply click on the Install button when the prompt appears.

rosetta on mac

After Rosetta has been installed, you won’t have to install it again on your M1 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 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 Macs.

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

Once you’ve installed Rosetta on an M1 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 Macs.

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

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9 Responses

  1. smayer97

    Interesting nuances….though I am puzzled why a Universal app needs the “Open using Rosetta” to run on M1, if it supposedly contains code to run on M1?

    • MacHow2

      Only when you try to run an Intel only app on an M1 Mac for the first time. Once Rosetta has been installed on an M1 Mac, you won’t be prompted for it again.

  2. smayer97

    Sorry but the Get Info window shows the option for a UNIVERSAL app… something does not add up.

    • MacHow2

      The Get Info windows shows the option for Intel or Universal depending on whether the app is Intel only requiring Rosetta to run or Universal which runs natively. Once Rosetta is installed on M1 Macs, you won’t know whether the app is running natively or using Rosetta but you can check by going to the Apple logo 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).


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