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Rosetta 2 Introduction: What Is Rosetta 2 And How to Install It on M1 Mac

Updated on Friday, June 14, 2024

iBoysoft author Anna Yuan

Written by

Anna Yuan
Professional tech editor

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Jessica Shee

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Summary: This post is an overview of Rosetta 2 on Mac. It tells what is Rosetta 2 and how to download and install Rosetta 2 on M1 Mac. It also helps you to check which apps need Rosetta to run on Apple Silicon Mac.

what is Rosetta 2 on M1 Mac

In 2020, Rosetta 2 was introduced as a component of macOS Big Sur and is part of the Mac transition from Intel processors to Apple Silicon. This is breaking news for most Mac users. Some of them may be surprised by the Apple Silicon chip while others may be curious about Rosetta 2 on Mac.

If you're one of the users who are interested in Apple Rosetta 2, then this is an article you shouldn't miss. It unveils what is Rosetta 2 on M1 Mac and how to download and install Rosetta 2 to use Intel apps on M1 Mac seamlessly.

What is Rosetta 2?

Rosetta 2, an emulator designed by Apple Inc. for macOS, is used to translate Intel-based Mac apps so they can run on Apple Silicon Macs without having to modify the source code. More specifically, it translates x86_64 processor instructions (aka 64-bit Intel) for ARM-based Apple Silicon.

The first version of Rosetta was released in 2006 in Mac OS X Tiger, which remarked the Mac transition from PowerPC processors to Intel processors, allowing PowerPC software to work on Intel-based Macs.

Once Rosetta is installed, it runs automatically in the background of macOS and begins the translation process when needed. When translation finishes, the operating system launches the translated software in place of the original.

Therefore, Rosetta is almost transparent for average Mac users. You won't even notice much difference in the performance of an app using Rosetta compared to one built to work natively with Arm-based Macs.

How to install Rosetta 2 on M1 Mac?

Rosetta 2 isn't included within a standard macOS installation and has to be installed separately. But you don't have to go searching for it on the web to download Rosetta 2, because macOS will ask you if you want to install it the first time you attempt to launch an Intel-compatible app on a Mac with an M1, M1 Pro, or M1 Max chip.

How to install Rosetta 2 on M1 Mac

To install Rosetta 2 on an Apple Silicon Mac, simply click the Install button when the dialog prompt appears on the screen. Enter your username and admin password to allow the Rosetta 2 installation to proceed, and once the installation is complete, Rosetta will be available for any of your apps that need it.

The translation process works the first time the app is opened and may run a little more slowly than normal, but you won't experience the same delay the next time you run the software.

Which apps need Rosetta?

To check apps that need Rosetta or can use Rosetta, you can use Mac Finder Get Info tool to help you. Here's how to do it:

  1. Launch Finder from Dock, and go to the Applications folder.
  2. Locate the app you want to check and right-click on it.
  3. Select Get Info from the drop-down menu.
  4. Then you'll see the specifications for this app. Under General, Find the Kind option. Here you'll see Application (Intel) or Application (Universal).    
    Application (Intel) means the app supports only Intel chips and needs Rosetta to work on an Apple Silicon Mac.    
    Application (Universal) means the app supports both Apple Silicon and Intel chips and uses Apple Silicon by default.   
    check which apps need Rosetta in Finder 
    Source from: Apple.com

Normally, Universal apps don't need Rosetta. But if a universal app doesn't recognize an add-on that you installed for the app, you can quit the app, select Open using Rosetta in the Get Info window and try it again. This setting allows a universal app to use plug-ins, extensions, or other add-ons that haven't been updated to support Apple Silicon.

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