Snow Leopard: Installing Rosetta

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.