How to Download and Install Rosetta 2 on Mac


Hey people! Welcome to Emulator info where we learn about new emulators every day! So Let’s take a detour today and look at a macOS program called Rosetta 2. We will get to know How to Download and Install Rosetta 2 on Mac.

Rosetta is used in Macs as the translation medium from one processor/architecture to the latest one. Rosetta 1 was used for PowerPC to Intel transition and Rosetta 2 is used for Intel to M1 chip transition

So let’s go ahead and learn about how to download and install Rosetta on Macs. Along the way, we will also learn a lot more about the technicalities involved.

Old is Gold!

How to Download and Install Rosetta 2 on Mac

What is the need for Translators in Macs?

Apple is famous for completely discarding old technologies to make room for new ones. They remove legacy architectures and software which are no longer compatible with their vision of the computing future. One example of this is the removal of OpenGL in favor of their new graphics API Metal. Another example is the removal of 32-bit application support. This made literally thousands of apps and games incompatible overnight!

Visit Rosetta 2

Over many years, Macintosh has used CPUs with several different processors and instruction set architectures. The first architecture was  Motorola 68000 series, then PowerPC, and followed by Intel x86, with the latest addition of ARM64 in Apple silicon. All of these processors are incompatible with their predecessors. Thus, there arises a need for transition between these architectures. This transition/ translation has to be based on a software layer to replicate the previous instruction set on the newer ones.

To give an example of the above, The Motorola 68K series became obsolete with the launch of the Power Macintosh. The Mac 68K emulator use PowerPC features and is integrated with the Mac OS nanokernel. This means that the nanokernel intercepts PowerPC interrupts, translates them to 68k, and executes the code to handle the interrupts. This lets 68k and PowerPC co-exist.

New M1 chips/ ARM x64 architecture/ Silicon mac

The new m1 chip is based on the ARM architecture whereas the previous generation of mac desktop processors all came with Intel processors.
The transition to the arm architecture and the m1 chip has allowed apple to vastly increase the power, and hugely improved the graphics performance as well as power and battery efficiency too.

All these advantages of this new architecture do not come without a price. Compatibility is a major concern when the hardware changes as drastically as from Intel to ARM. All the software that was written for the intel would need to be rewritten or ported to the arm architecture in steps.

What is Rosetta?

The Rosetta stone is an ancient artifact that enabled the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Taking this reference to “translations”:

Rosetta: A dynamic binary translator developed by Apple Inc. for macOS. Rosetta is basically a compatibility layer between different architectures. It enables a transition to newer hardware, by automatically translating software

Rosetta 1 was introduced by Steve Jobs in 2006 on Mac OS X Tiger, it was used to transition Macs from PowerPC processors to Intel processors, Therefore enabling PowerPC applications to run on the then-new Intel-based Macs.

Rosetta 2 was introduced in 2020 as a component of macOS Big Sur, it plays it part in the Mac transition from Intel processors to Apple silicon, thus allowing Intel applications to run on Apple silicon Macs.

About Rosetta 2

  • Extremely easy and quick to install
  • Because of Rosetta, the arm chip runs Intel-based games better than the native Intel chip itself
  • Using Rosetta 2 is almost completely seamless for the end user
  • Install Rosetta 2 only once through any Intel app and use it indefinitely
  • Fast performance
  • Translated at install time
  • Dynamic translation for JITs
  • Transparent to users

Install Rosetta 2

  • If you have a Silicon-based Mac and want to run an Intel-based application, you need Rosetta 2
  • Open the Intel-based app. It will prompt you to install Rosetta
  • Click OK and enter your credentials to continue
  • That’s it! We are done installing Rosetta. Downloading it for one app makes it available throughout the Mac

Apps that Require Rosetta 2 to Work

Following is a list of some apps (and developers with the last updated date) which are still Intel-based and aren’t compatible with the m1 chip yet. In simpler words, the following apps need Rosetta 2 to run on Silicon Macs:

ApplicationDeveloperLast update
MongoDB CompassMongoDB, Inc.Mar 17th, 2022
AnyTransImobieMar 13th , 2022
Android File TransferGoogleJan 13th ,2022
Amazon MusicAmazonDec 27th, 2021
DriveDxbinaryfruitDec 12th, 2021
MongoDBMongoDB, Inc.Dec 11th ,2021
Pro toolsAvidDec 5th,2021
Dante ControlleraudinateNov 15th,2021
Serato DJSeratoOct 20th,2021
Ableton Live 10AbletonOct 4th,2021
Betternet VPNbetternetSept 14th,2021
DoricoSteinbergSept 7th ,2021
ExpressVPNExpressVPNAug 27th,2021
Topaz Gigapixel AlTopaz LabsAug 27th,2021
KakaoTalkKakao Corp.Aug 27th,2021
ShadowsocksJigsaw Operations LLCAug 27th,2021
SnapGeneInsightful ScienceAug 27th,2021
QLabFigure 53, LLCAug 27th,2021
NordPassNordPassAug 5th,2021
Chrome Remote DesktopGoogleAug 4th,2021
QuarkXPressQuark Software Inc.Aug 3rd ,2021
Folx ProEltima IBCAug 2nd ,2021
HEYBasecamp LLCJul 27th ,2021
DeSmuMEDeSmuMEJul 27th ,2021
Foxit ReaderFoxit IncJul 27th ,2021

Rosetta Timelines

Timeline of Rosetta 1:

  • August 2005: Steve Jobs announces Rosetta 1 at the WWDC (WorldWide Developers conference)
  • October 2005: Rosetta was integrated into Mac OS X Tiger v10.4.3
  • January 2006: First Intel-based iMac was released
  • August 2006: The last PowerPC-based Mac G5 was discontinued
  • October 2007: Rosetta became optional for Mac OS X Snow Leopard v10.6
  • July 2011: Rosetta support was entirely removed from Mac OS X Lion v10.7
    Rosetta lasted for about 5 years

Timeline of Rosetta 2:

  • June 2020: Rosetta 2 is announced in WWDC 2020
  • November 2020: M1 MacBook Air, Pro, and mini released
  • March 2021: “Rosetta 2 will be removed” discovered in macOS 11.3 beta
  • May 2021: M1 iMac released
  • NOV 2022: Remaining Intel Macs MacBook Pro 16”, iMac 27”, Mac Pro
    might be discontinued
  • November 2025: Going by the active time of Rosetta 1, Rosetta 2 support might be removed by this time

Emulator Info’s Words:

Rosetta 2 is a must-have app in your M1 Silicon Macs to be able to run Intel-Based apps since a lot of apps are incompatible with M1 chip architecture. Rosetta (1 and 2 both) is a product by Apple inc. itself. It has no loophole or no alternate option. So it is basically the only option there is.

Not to worry since it is very easy and convenient to install and “use” Rosetta 2. It enables users to run Intel-based apps on silicon Macs and that too quite seamlessly. Often, it is noticed that Rosetta 2 runs intel apps in silicon better than the native intel system!

Sooner or later, all Macs and the apps will be M1 silicon-based. That would mean Rosetta 2 will be obsolete then. But that day is around 4 years ahead of us. So experience Rosetta 2 while you can!


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