How to Install Rosetta 2 on Apple Silicon Macs

Dec 4, 2020 - 14 Comments

How to Install Rosetta on Apple Silicon Mac

Rosetta 2 is necessary if you want to be able to run older non-native Intel x86 apps on new Apple Silicon Macs, like the M1 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac mini. Curiously, Rosetta 2 is not installed by default on these Macs however, so if you wish to run these apps you’ll need to install Rosetta 2 onto the Apple Silicon Mac yourself.

There are two ways to install Rosetta 2 onto an Apple Silicon Mac; using the Terminal, or by attempting to open a non-native x86 app which prompts an installer. You can use whichever method you’d like, as both will have the same end result of Rosetta 2 being installed onto the Mac.


Remember, this is only for Apple Silicon ARM Macs, and this is not necessary on any Intel Mac (nor would Rosetta 2 install on Intel Macs anyway). Also, this capability is only available in macOS Big Sur or later.

How to Install Rosetta 2 via App Launch

If you have any x86 Intel apps available on the Apple Silicon Mac, simply launching the app will prompt the user to install Rosetta. Clicking “Install” will then install the Rosetta 2 software onto the Mac.

How to Install Rosetta on Apple Silicon Mac

How to Install Rosetta 2 via Command Line on Apple Silicon Mac

Another way to install Rosetta 2 on the Mac is by using the familiar softwareupdate command line tool.

softwareupdate --install-rosetta

This will launch the rosetta installer and you’ll have to agree to a license agreement, which I’m sure you’ll read completely and thoroughly as we all do every time we install anything on every device.

You can also skip the license agreement by providing an additional flag:

/usr/sbin/softwareupdate --install-rosetta --agree-to-license

For some quick background, new Apple Silicon Macs run on different architecture, whereas Macs have been running Intel chips for quite some time. Rosetta 2 translates Intel x86 code to ARM so that it can run on the new Apple Silicon hardware. You can read more about the Rosetta 2 translation environment at the Apple developer site gif interested.

And if the name Rosetta sounds familiar to you, it’s likely because Apple used the same name for a similar translation process when Apple moved from PowerPC (PPC) to Intel architecture, support for which was later dropped in Lion. Or maybe you’re familiar with the Rosetta Stone language learning software, or even the original Rosetta Stone Egyptian tablet… but anyway, for our purposes here it allows new Apple Silicon Macs to run older apps that are not yet native.

Over time, more and more Mac apps will run natively on Apple Silicon, and Rosetta 2 will eventually become unneeded, in much the same way that Rosetta for PowerPC eventually became deprecated. But that’s still years away, as Apple is just at the beginning of the process of bringing Apple Silicon to the Mac hardware lineup.

Rosetta is a translation process that allows users to run apps that contain x86_64 instructions on Apple silicon.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

14 Comments

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  1. Scott says:

    It won’t install at all. I think they removed it because of some legal bs. I bought this Mac Mini yesterday.

    Keeps saying error, try again on all 3 methods.

    Open Intel App > Prompts to install Rosetta… fails
    Commandline > fails
    Found Rosetta 2 Updater in S/L/CoreService/…. fails.

    C’mon Apple.

  2. KMAN says:

    How do I know if I have it installed successfully? I get this message in terminal:

    package Authoring Error: 001-86594: Package reference com.apple.pkg.RosettaUpdateAuto is missing installKBytes attribute

    But then it says installed successfully. When I look in my Apps folder I don’t see any rosetta, and can’t find it when I search for rosetta in finder. Was it successful or not?

    • Pal says:

      Rosetta isn’t an app so to speak so it won’t be in the Applications folder, it’s an application translation layer to allow you to run Intel apps on the Apple Silicon Mac chips.

      The easiest way to confirm that Rosetta installed is by running an Intel app on the ARM Mac, if it works – Rosetta is working and installed.

  3. Budi says:

    Hi…I am trying to install scratch 3 into my Mac mini M1,
    and its say “To open Scratch 3”, you need to install Rosetta. Do you want to install it now?
    and then I click “Install”

    Unfortunately : This update is not allowed on this system.
    how to solve this issue…??

    • Chris says:

      From your terminal run (without quotes) the following line:

      /usr/sbin/softwareupdate --install-rosetta --agree-to-license

      That line should force the update if you are on a Mac with an M1 processor. This will install rosetta 2 (the above mentioned emulation layer and will allow for 32bit apps to run again.

  4. Fiorella says:

    Hi, but how do I run the command?

    • Paul says:

      Enter the command into the Terminal application

      Terminal can be launched from Spotlight (Command+Spacebar), LaunchPad, or from the Utilities folder

  5. keith says:

    i have installed rosetta 2.
    when i click on install this is the message i get. how do i get it to invoke rosetta 2? no rosetta message appears under get info. i am lost on how to run older apps on the m1 under big sur.

    “Install.app” needs to be updated.
    The developer of this app needs to update it to work with this version of macOS. Contact the developer for more information.

    • p says:

      Is the app 32-bit or 64-bit Intel? If it is 32-bit it will not work.

      Rosetta 2 will work automatically to launch Intel apps on Apple Silicon once it is installed and recognizes an Intel binary. You might try rebooting after installing it, if you have not done so already.

  6. meg says:

    Hello. How will I know if the installation via Terminal worked? It says successful but I am still not able to download apps that are not supported by Apple Silicon. Thanks!

    • Mr Bill says:

      If installation was reported as successful then Rosetta 2 has been installed on the Mac.

      Where are you trying to download apps from and what is the message you are seeing? Keep in mind that 32-bit apps are not supported on M1 Macs regardless, and some older apps fall into that category.

  7. boni says:

    how can one uninstall rosetta 2?

  8. Emilio says:

    but…. the intel app is translated the first time it is launched, or the first time the app is launched after every restart ??

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