Rosetta Keeps Running and I Want It To Stop

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Gray writes: I recently purchased a La Cie USB drive. While setting it up I used the included utility to format the drive as a single Journaled HFS+ partition. A dialog appeared saying that I would have to install Rosetta in order to run the utility. I am using Mac OS 10.6.3. I downloaded Rosetta, installed it, formatted the drive, and am now using it successfully.

However, I then noticed a system slowdown accompanied by increased CPU activity revealed by MenuMeters. Activity Monitor shows a process “translate” is taking up lots of CPU cycles. Since it is a PowerPC-type process, I assume it is related to Rosetta. What is going on? It looks like Rosetta is the problem. How do I get rid of it? I don’t see it in any of the application directories.


Indeed, Gray, ‘translate’ is (one of) the Rosetta process(es). It shouldn’t be running like that unless you’ve got something actually using it, but perhaps there’s a problem. You can disable Rosetta by issuing:

sudo sysctl –w kern.exec.archhandler.powerpc=/usr/libexec/oah/RosettaNonGrata

To turn it back on, you set the handler back to ‘translate’, as such:

sudo sysctl -w kern.exec.archhandler.powerpc=/usr/libexec/oah/translate

That will likely solve the problem for the current session, but depending on how your Mac is configured, Rosetta may become enabled again down the road. This is because these sysctl values are not necessarily saved for future boots. To force them to be saved and set as you wish, you need to edit (or add) the /etc/sysctl.conf file and add the following line:


Once that’s in and saved to /etc/sysctl.conf the setting will persist amongst reboots. Editing files from the Terminal is a trick in and of itself, but I recommend using something like Bare Bones Software’s free TextWrangler to do so from a GUI. Otherwise you’ll have to use emacs, vi, nano or something else from the Terminal directly.

Additionally, it’s worth checking your System Preferences->Accounts->Login Items to see if the La Cie utility is listed there to launch at boot. If it is, remove it (by highlighting it and clicking the minus sign). Then this problem will be gone for good.

This question was originally answered on MGG 268: Mac Tools, Ethernet Cables, Spyware and More

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Each week Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun provide some great troubleshooting advice to listeners of the Mac Geek Gab podcast. Here with MGG Answers we share some of those tips with the rest of the world!

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You might also want to pester La Cie about developing an Intel version of their utility.

John Francini

It shouldn’t be necessary to use their utility. Assuming it uses the “stock” Mac OS X drivers, you can format it using Disk Utility—no 3rd party application needed.

If it requires some sort of 3rd party utility to format the drive, return it.


This “translate” process started with me when I went to 10.6.3.  Then, when I upgraded to 10.6.4, Apple seemed to fix the problem and it went away.  I also noticed that it went away under 10.6.3 when my Macbook was not connected to an external monitor, in this case an old Apple 23 inch Cinema Display.  When I connected the Cinema Display (built in 2002) and booted my Macbook, I would have to force quit the “translate” process every time to keep my CPU cycles from being at 100%.

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