Snow Leopard: Installing Rosetta

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Mac OS X 10.6 signals a shift at Apple as the company looks to the future of its operating system, and a clear example of that was the move to offer Rosetta as an optional install instead of including it as part of the default OS installation. For Mac owners that still rely on apps that can't run natively on Intel processors, Rosetta is still available, and luckily it's easy to install.

Rosetta is Apple's utility that lets applications designed to run only on PowerPC-based Macs to launch and run on Intel-based Macs, too. The list of applications that run natively on Intel and PowerPC Macs -- Universal applications -- is pretty extensive, and the number of apps that run only on Intel-based Macs is growing all the time. Some applications, however, were never updated with Intel Mac support.

Since changing applications isn't always an option, Rosetta is an important part of some Mac user's daily lives. If that's you, making sure Rosetta is available is easy, and there's two ways to go about it.

Installing During Upgrade
To install Rosetta during your upgrade from Mac OS X 10.6 to Mac OS X 10.6, do this:

  • Insert the Snow Leopard installer DVD into your Mac, and launch the installer application.
  • If you have more than one disk connected to your Mac, select the hard drive where you want to install Snow Leopard.
  • Click Customize.
  • Check Rosetta.
  • Click OK.


Rosetta is an optional component in Snow Leopard.

The installer will now include Rosetta in your Mac OS X 10.6 upgrade installation.

Installing After Upgrade
If you find out after your Snow Leopard upgrade that you need Rosetta, no problem. Mac OS X will let you know, and it will handle the Rosetta installation for you, too.

Snow Leopard can add Rosetta even after installation.

If Rosetta isn't already installed when you try to launch a PowerPC-based application, Snow Leopard will display a dialog asking if you want to install Rosetta. Clicking Not Now stops the installation process, and your application won't launch. Clicking Install downloads and installs Rosetta from Apple's servers so your app can properly launch.

Many Mac users won't even notice that Rosetta isn't installed by default, but for those users that need it, it's nice to know Rosetta is only a couple of mouse clicks away.

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Rosetta is amazing. Unlike so many Intel/Universal applications that needed updates before they were Snow Leopard compatible, my old PowerPC software continues to run just fine.

Most of my applications and tools have been updated to the latest Intel native, Snow Leopard friendly versions, but I have no need for the latest version of Photoshop. I actually have no need for 98% of its features, but I’ve found nothing else that does a good job of adjusting levels and colors in iPhoto. My old copy of CS continues to get the job done for me and it will be a sad day when Apple finally discontinues Rosetta.


Wow.  What rock have I been hiding under.  I didn’t know that this was an option in Leopard, so it is a special surprise to see that it can be installed for Snow Leopard.

Like Bregalad, I have been steadily moving my applications to the latest Intel native versions.  My library of tens of thousands of documents has been moving too, but I still have some stragglers in MacWrite, MacWrite Pro, and Word Perfect for Mac (pretty old, eh?).  Obviously, I haven’t needed to read them these past few years, but it is reassuring that if I do need to read them, that I don’t have to fire up one of my fine older PPCs to translate.


You can get Rosetta with Snow Leopard but not with leopard,.. which means you can install Quark 6.5 on snowleopard but not on Leopard,... unless you get “Classic 9”,... but then again it might not run as well..

Can I install Rosetta on Leopard?

Downside of Macs are the compatibility….


Rosetta is built-in to Leopard (as it was in the Intel version of Tiger).

Part of the idea behind Snow Leopard was to slim down the codebase, which is why Snow Leopard doesn’t install Rosetta by default—it’s been several years since the Intel changeover now, so many people might no longer use apps that need Rosetta.


Hi. Thanks so much for the info here.

I work for a school. Through the years, many of us have created hundreds of documents using Appleworks. Now that we’ve had to change operating systems and Apple is no longer supporting Appleworks, we were told by our network administrator to convert all of our documents to the Pages application. While I understand the need to start all new creations using Pages, it didn’t make sense that we had to convert every single document.

As I had suspected, the problems with converting were numerous as many documents got mangled beyond recognition and others (anything that was NOT word processing…spreadsheets, etc) were not recognized by Pages, thus making them impossible to convert. The network administrator’s solution was to convert problem documents to MS Word or just create PDFs that wouldn’t be editable.

When I stumbled upon the Rosetta solution on another Mac forum, I asked the administrator about using it. It seemed like a godsend as now the lion’s share of the Appleworks application would still be functional and teachers wouldn’t have to go through the time-wasting and painful process of conversion. I had also read that a lot of businesses used Rosetta to read and use their Appleworks documents.

After a lot of reluctance to even address the issue, she finally came out and responded that “Rosetta is not an option for our network.” I asked a friend of mine who’s a bit more savvy with computers and he said she was incorrect. Anyhow, she got the administration to believe her and the issue is seemingly dead.

My understanding is that Rosetta is simply an install option and should be available.

It seems to me that she was just unaware of this option when she installed the new operating system and now doesn’t wish to change the 20 or so computers that have been affected. Is there any feasible reason why she wouldn’t be considering this obviously sensible option? Could it be a network compatibility issue?



Well, I may have an answer to my own question…

I asked a computer specialist today and he said that she was incorrect in stating it was a compatibility issue.

He did, however, state that printing will be the big issue when using Appleworks down the road. He said that it may work well now while we’re on the Leopard OS, but once we change to Snow Leopard later on, we’ll experience lots of printing problems.

Is this true?

S.Masood Raza

Thanks for making a Rosetta software for using mac 10.6.8 easy
but Please Make it new version for lion 10.8.3 or higher version.

S.Masood Raza

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