Easily Determine Architecture Type of Mac OS X Apps – Universal, Intel, or PowerPC

Jan 24, 2007 - 1 Comment

Regardless of your thoughts on Apple’s switch to the Intel architecture, we are now in a transition period where many apps are either PowerPC, Universal, or Intel only. While most new applications are at least Universal binaries, some are PowerPC, and running these through Rosetta on your Intel Mac can cause a performance decrease. So how do you know what architecture type each application is? There’s multiple ways to tell, but we’ll give you two of the easiest.


Easy way #1) The first and probably the easiest way to determine what kind of app is running is with the Activity Monitor, which is kind of like the Mac’s version of the Task Manager (ctrl-alt-del) in Windows.

  • Access the Activity Monitor, easiest by doing a spotlight search (Command-Spacebar), otherwise it is located in /Applications/Utilities.
  • You’ll see a ‘Kind’ column that shows which application type is each of the currently running programs.

Easy way #2) What if you want to determine the architecture type of applications that aren’t currently running? Perhaps you want to purge your Mac of all PowerPC applications to ensure that you are running things at optimum performance. Easy again:

  • Open System Profiler, also located in /Applications/Utilities. Once again this is easiest to do a Spotlight search for.
  • Once inside System Profiler, navigate the tabs on the left and open the Software tab, and select Applications.
  • Now you will have a list of all apps installed on your Mac, simply expand the window and in the far right column you’ll see the architecture type.

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Posted by: OSXDaily in How to, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

One Comment

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  1. buzzert says:

    You can also see it in Get Info. It’ll say Type: Application(Universal) or Application(PowerPC)

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