Snow Leopard and Rosetta

What you need to know.

Have you upgraded to Lion? Then you probably want to read this instead.

Yes, most older Mac OS applications are compatible with Snow Leopard. But perhaps not the way Snow Leopard is normally installed. It might need Rosetta.


Simply put, Rosetta is a special part of Mac OS that enables older software to run on newer Macs with Snow Leopard. Trouble is, Rosetta isn’t installed as part of a standard Mac OS installation. Instead, your Mac offers to install it for you the first time you need it.

So today, when I opened Quicken 2007 for the first time after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, I saw the following dialog:

Install Rosetta?

The options are pretty straightforward:

  • Not Now doesn’t install Rosetta. That means you can’t open the program that needed it — in my case, Quicken.
  • Install uses your Internet connection (you do have one, don’t you?) to download Rosetta from Apple’s server. It then installs Rosetta on your Mac. You’ll see a dialog like this while it works:
    Installing Rosetta

Once Rosetta is installed, try opening the application again. It should work.

I can’t think of any reason not to install Rosetta.

I can think of plenty of reasons to keep your software updated. The first reason is that you can avoid having to install additional software like Rosetta for compatibility. Unfortunately, a newer version of Quicken simply isn’t available. Yet.

If you know you need to install Rosetta, you can avoid this whole process by installing it when installing Snow Leopard. You do this by customizing the installation; no Internet connection is required:

Custom Snow Leopard Installation

It’s in the Book!

Snow Leopard Book CoverYou can find more information about installing Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, including how to customize an installation in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: Visual QuickStart Guide.

Installing Mac OS X 10.6 is covered on pages 2-5.

50 thoughts on “Snow Leopard and Rosetta

  1. Thank you for this information. I just recently moved from PC to Mac, actually 2 days before the release of Snow Leopard. I installed Quicken 2007 and transfered all my data files with few problems. Then Snow Leopard is released and I couldn’t find and answer as to whether there would be compatibility issues. So thank you for posting and making it quite clear that I should go ahead and upgrad to Snow Leopard to keep my new Mac performing at it’s best.

  2. Check with Apple. My wife just bought a new macbook pro a month before Snow Leopard, and apparently there’s a $10? upgrade path for anyone inside of 90 days or so… fwiw

  3. How annoying to have to download rosetta first (or check it upon installation). I learnt this the hard way when a certain Java app which usually gets me into the university wifi network asked me to ‘download’ rosetta. yeah like I’m going to be able to do that. I highly doubt network administrators have the time or energy to develop a universal binary for this particular app seeing that most people here use macs. oh well at least Apple does make it easier for those who already have an active connection.

  4. Actually, think twice before you install Rosetta.

    Rosetta is translation software. Really AWESOME translation software, but it lets you run PowerPC applications on your Intel Mac. That means intensive resource usage. That means overhead. That means slowness.

    There’s a reason it’s not installed by default, you know?

    I’ve tried to purge all of my Macs of any apps that require Rosetta. Of all the applications in my house, there’s only one left on one computer: and that’s Quicken 2007. Argh.

    As an aside Rosetta for a Java application seems really peculiar. Then again, I’m not a computer expert. Just a semi-geeky userdude. But the whole point of Java is to be platform-neutral, yes?

    • Rich: While I agree that it’s better to NOT install something you don’t need, I also don’t think Rosetta will slow things down unless it’s in use. My advice is to NOT install Rosetta until your computer tells you that you need it. Then research an upgrade to the software that requires it and upgrade if possible to avoid the Rosetta installation. If that’s not possible, install without fear. I don’t think it’ll harm your system overall. And yes, I definitely agree that Rosetta for Java seems pretty silly.

      Anthony: I don’t think downloading Rosetta is so annoying. At least the whole process is automated. Rosetta was part of Mac OS X 10.5; Apple has merely removed it as a default installation as part of its process of phasing out older software. It’s unfortunate for those of us who have to use it; most folks running up-to-date software will never miss it.

      Grant: If you bought a Mac after mid-June (or so), you qualify for the Snow Leopard Up-to-Date program. Details are available here. I bought a copy of Leopard this way for about $10 shipping; it arrived within 3 days of ordering.

      • Maria – actually Rosetta slowed down my brand new Macbook Pro so drastically that I simply cannot use it at all and had to (annoyingly) upgrade a bunch of software – notably MS Office Suite to the dreaded 2007 version that no one likes. Not only does it slow down the applications that its helping to run but it slows down EVERYTHING. And my Mac is brand new, running Snow Leopard with 4GB RAM and plenty of hard drive space, repaired disk permissions, etc. And I can’t even open a .doc file and cut and paste something into iWeb without my computer feeling like a 10 year old PC with dial-up internet.

        • Stephanie: I’m surprised. Are you sure it’s Rosetta? Not something else? I have it running on my 13″ MacBook Pro — relatively new — and I’m not seeing a performance hit at all. You might want to have the Geniuses at the Apple Store take a look. You could have some malware problems.

  5. I have Quicken 2007 installed on my Mac which I recently upgraded to Snow Leopard. After a successful installation of Rosetta, I cannot open Quicken with Snow Leopard. When I click on Quicken, I get a split-second showing of the Quicken opening pane, but it immediately disappears and a pane with a header of “Open Quicken 2007″ appears. Immediately below this header, this advice is shown: “Chose a Quicken data file to open.” I see no apparent way to do this. There is a menu on the left side of this pane that is identical to the menu that comes up when I click on the MacIntosh HD icon on the desktop. Would appreciate any help you can give me. Thank you.

  6. Ahh but direct connections to AMEX and other banking sites gives an error, while the download and reconnect shows an error it at least transmits the data. here I come…

    • George: I’m not quite sure what your link is a fix for related to Snow Leopard. I’ve successfully used that fix for a problem related to downloading transactions from my bank. I do recommend that Quicken for Mac users install it, although I’m not convinced it will fix any Snow Leopard related problems. Thanks for sharing it, though.

  7. Let me simplify my post of Sept. 13.

    Snow Leopard is my O/S and I have installed Rosetta. When I try to open Quicken 2007, I get a pane labeled with the wording, “Open Quicken 2007″ and “Chose a Quicken data file to open.”

    Looks like I’m in the right church, but can’t find my pew. Can anyone explain to me in ABC terms, how to follow this advice. Whenever I find a file that looks appropriate, and I enter my old Quicken password, I get a message that the password is incorrect.

    Thank you.

    • Jim: It sounds like it’s looking for your Quicken data file. Have you tried locating it in the Finder and double-clicking it to open it? Is there any chance your password might have been changed? If you think you’re doing it all right and Quicken gets hung up on the password, your problem is far beyond what you’re likely to get help with here. Time to call Intuit! good luck!

  8. The issue of expired certs does precede Snow Leopard, however it did fix my issues with both BofA and AMEX. There is some discussion on Apple’s boards on the fix that is not a fix but that seems to fix things sometimes…”

    I was complaining about this leading me to stop using Quicken (since around 1991) and move to Sadly Intuit just bought which means once again there is no alternative.

  9. I just switched from a PC to MAC with Snow Leopard and have been having a lot of trouble with Quicken 2007. I just installed it on my new MAC and it made a new file for me and the application will open. But if I try to do anything (like click on the register) it “unexpectedly closes”. It also won’t see my bank downloaded files either. Is this some of the same problems that Rosetta is supposed to fix?

    • Channing: Rosetta is not supposed to “fix” Quicken. It provides older versions of software with the older operating system code they need to run. Quicken 2007 works fine on my Mac running Leopard with Rosetta installed. You need to make sure you have ALL the updates from Intuit. You can find them on Intuit’s Web site; they released one within the past two weeks that resolved the few remaining problems I had.

      Good luck!

  10. Note to future commenters on this post:

    This post is NOT a place to get support for Quicken or to advertise for competing software products. This post is about Rosetta.

    While I’ve allowed some Quicken discussion to be added, the tone of comments has shifted far off topic. Future comments regarding Quicken — including those about competing software products that seem like spammy advertising attempts — will simply not be approved.

    Let’s keep comments relevant to the post topics, please.

    You can read the comment policy for my sites here:

  11. Maria-

    I’m sorry if this response to your 10/6 post here in response to my 10/5 post (which you’ve taken down) violates your policies. I’d just like to point out that I thought my previous post advocating an alternative to Quicken was relevant to the Rosetta discussion because it was offering a way for people to avoid the Rosetta issue with Quicken. As an analogy, if I ask for someone’s help with a 10 mile route to somewhere, I wouldn’t consider it irrelevant to my question if they said, “You know, there’s a 2 mile route if you’re interested”. And finally, I am not an employee of the company I mentioned; I am a paying customer so my email was not a “spammy advertising attempt”.

    • Joel: It wasn’t your post as much as the one that followed it. I suspect it was posted by an employee of the company; it read just like an ad. Your post was right on the line; the other one was way over. The only reason I didn’t let yours remain online was because I knew it would lead to more of the same and I was hoping to head off the problem.

      My apologies.

      Good analogy.

    • Joel,

      I read the entire string, including your post of 10/5 and frankly, appreciated the “two mile” shortcut. I’m glad it was not deleted before I got to read it.

      Since this is a post not “unabout Quicken,” although its main purpose may be to encourage the purchase of said program and install an unnecessary program, it seems only fair that other options are allowed to be explored. I thought your comment and those that followed only offered alternatives that are not now allowed to be discussed.

      Most of us purchased either a MacBookPro with Snow Leopard already installed or installed it for the main purpose of speeding up and simplifying our computer experience. Any way of doing that is a welcome comment in an open discussion.

      • Abbey: You’re right: the post is not “unabout” Quicken. But I need to make it clear that I am not prepared or interested in supporting Quicken here. Likewise, I am not interested in letting this discussion degrade to a comparison of accounting software, a bashing of Quicken, and harsh, uninformed criticism of Apple’s policies.

        The topic is Rosetta, not Quicken. Quicken is used as an example of what prompted the need to install Rosetta on my machine. On another one of my machines, the Office 2008 installer prompted the installation of Rosetta. I could have written about that. Does that mean I should let the conversation degrade into Microsoft Office bashing or support? I don’t think so.

        You want free discussion, please do that on your own site. On my sites, comments are moderated and discussions are kept on or near topic.

  12. Joel and Maria,

    I was that response poster to Joel. No I am not an employee of any such company. I am a frustrated computer user who was trying to figure out a way to get the Quicken software to work. Joel’s response was much more helpful than other information I have found. I could not find very much information on Rosetta (not even on the Apple website). That made me wary about downloading it onto my brand new computer. Especially since I never got the pop-up asking me to download it. I felt as though it would not fix the problem I was having.

    If my previous unpublished post sounded like and ad, then maybe I’m in the wrong line of work. I was just thanking Joel for thinking outside the box and offering a 2 mile route to my destination.

  13. Just bought Epson V600 scanner, but can’t save the pictures into iPhoto. Please somebody help me. This old lady doing something, but what? Have iMac w/Snow Leopard, have your book “Mac 10.6 Snow Leopard”.

    • Tulay: Try contacting Epson or checking their Web site for information about conflicts between their scanner and Snow Leopard. Unfortunately, I can’t provide support for peripheral hardware. But perhaps someone else here has the same scanner and can help you.

      Good luck!

  14. Thank you, I did but still have the problem. Trying to read the manual for scanner on line, may be I can find some answers for my problem. Good luck with your new project and have good weekend.

  15. Thanks for this posting, Maria. I found it while Rosetta was installing for Quicken and I wondered if I were downloading malware.

    I’ve bought your Snow Leopard ebook which is downloading to my iPod Touch. Still debating about a real Kindle.

    • Judy: Thanks for buying my book, but I cannot imagine reading any Visual QuickStart Guide on an iPod touch — let alone one that is 650 page long. As for the Kindle, I’m waiting for a better reader. i want color on a good-sized screen that isn’t tied to a server somewhere and doesn’t use a special format. I basically want to be able to read PDFs on a tablet computer. When will someone make something like this? I think I’ll be waiting a long time.

      Thanks again.

  16. Maria: The one advantage I can see of the black and white e-readers is that they are easier on the eyes than regular pc or iPod screens. I’ve been reading a mystery the last few days on my iPod Touch and my eyes are burning from it.

    It was a bit difficult to navigate your Snow Leopard guide on the iPod. Still thinking about a Kindle. Price is down to $259 for the lighter one. I don’t need the new international one.

    Meanwhile, you could get a tablet PC and read all sorts of formats!

    • Judy: I am actually thinking of a tablet PC or netbook to use as an ebook reader, email reader, and Web computer. I read plain text books on my BlackBerry Storm now; no problems. But I think if I invested in a device designed specifically to view books I’d want color capabilities, perhaps with the ability to switch to grayscale.

      But now I’m getting off topic. Sorry, folks.

  17. On page xiii of your MAC OS X 10.5 LEOPARD, bottom left, you mention additional material that was not included in your book. How may I get that information.

    I have a twenty inch iMAC with the 10.5 that has been upgraded to 10.5.8.

    • William: I am away from my office and don’t have the book handy. Can’t answer your question unless I know exactly what information you’re looking for. Chances are, that information is here, on this site. Look around and you’ll probably find it on your own. There’s a LOT of information on this site.

  18. I am having some problems with the software for my mobile internet browser and think i need rosetta as part of the fix. However, as I am not online without mobile internet at home then I can’t download on-line. Does anyone know of where I could find the rosetta install file to download onto a USB on my work PC to take home to fix my mac?

    • Pete: If you have the original Snow Leopard install disks with you, you can run the installer and install that way. Otherwise I don’t know of a way to do it; perhaps someone else here does. Good luck!

  19. I used Appleworks without issue on Leopard, but after installing Snow Leopard I cannot open my .cwk files. I did not originally choose Roseeta on installation, nor did I know to add it when prompted the first time Appleworks would not open. I tried re-installing it from the original software disks for Snow Leopard, but this has not fixed the problem of not being able to open my documents made with Appleworks. Is there a better way to install Rosetta. Is there some way to check if the installation worked?

  20. I said go ahead and install, although the message was doubly mysterious for me since I also have Rosetta STONE (language) software installed … I thought OS/X was tangling up all my apps.

    • Connie: That’s actually kind of funny. I never thought of Rosetta Stone users possibly getting confused about the needs to “install Rosetta” when Rosetta Stone is already installed. Good point!

  21. thanks for this site.. very useful.

    was wondering if anyone has been able to run the very old “Manage your Money” OS9 app by installing Rosetta?

  22. Having a problem. Use Mirosoft Office for Mac 2004 (Student/Teacher edition)- have kept up with all of the updates. Got a new MacBook Pro and took advantage of the data transfer service.When I tried to open Word it said I needed Rosetta, so I installed it. Now my Word files – including my novel that I worked on for 15 years- won’t open. I get the initial poof and expansion effect, but no file. Help please.

    • Rod: I might be wrong, but I don’t think Office 2004 is compatible with Snow Leopard, which is likely installed on your new MacBook Pro. You may want to double-check with Microsoft before panicking. Sorry to be the [possible] bearer of bad news. Best of luck with a fix.

    • I don’t use Office so I can’t help there, but you might be able to open the files using It’s a free download & I know it handles windows versions of office files.

  23. Hi there! I have snow leopard, but have lost my installation disc. I am told I need Rosetta in order to run my Epson print programs…but cannot find where I can get it – other than if I open a PPC program and it prompts me (cannot find one which will do this) or from my install cd (which I cannot find). Are there any other options?

    • Caren: When you need to install Rosetta, your computer will tell you and offer to install it for you. If you have an Internet connection, it will download and install it. No need to look for it on disc.

      If you DO want to install from your own discs, you can find it on the Snow Leopard installation disc. Start the installer and step through it until you get to the point where you can customize. Turn on the option for Rosetta and complete the installation. But this is a more advanced installation method.

      I recommend just waiting until you’re prompted to install by your Mac and do the installation via Internet connection then. The file isn’t very big, so it won’t take long to download.

      Hope this helps!

  24. Hi folks,

    I have a GDI printer (Oki C5150N) which I think needs Rosetta to utilize the new drivers written for the Snow Leopard OS. The Oki folks say its a Mac problem but I haven’t heard back from Apple yet. I just bought a new MacMini and can’t use my printer. It doesn’t allow me to install the new driver. Any idea how to proceed?

  25. I am running a 15″MacBook Pro with Lion. Had to go to IBank and not use q2007 because lion does not have rosetta. So I have been trying to come up with a download for rosetta, but to no avail. As I understand it, rosetta can be installed onto Lion. Is that true? If so, where can I find a copy of rosetta by itself?
    Ham talk 73s, thanks

    • I don’t know — yet. But I could sure use it, too. I’ve actually held off on installing Lion on one of my computers because I rely so heavily on Quicken. (And boy, am I ANGRY that Intuit has dropped the ball on this!) One possibility is to use Parallels Desktop or something similar to install a pared down version of Snow Leopard. You can then use that to run your Rosetta apps. I’m thinking of doing that myself.

      In the meantime, if you do track down a way to put Rosetta in Lion, don’t keep it a secret.

  26. HELP! I lost both of the disks that came with my macbook pro. This is my first mac. I recently learned that I need Rosetta to run 2 different devices I need for a project that stated it was “mac- OSX capable” (I’m not sure why it so many things are advertised as mac capable when the programs NEVER run with a fraction of the capabilities as a PC if they are not a mac- intended product, but it always seems the case) I need to get this roestta application on my mac ASAP…what can I do?

    • If you have a connection to the Internet, your Mac will offer to install it for you when it needs to. Just follow the instructions in this article. You did read the article, didn’t you?

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