One solution if you need to run Rosetta software.
I’m one of the poor idiots who didn’t switch from Quicken 2007 — the most recent full-featured Mac version — to something else before Lion was released. And now I’m one of the many people who can’t access my accounting records from my computer running Mac OS X Lion.
I did, however, find a workaround. That’s what this article is all about.
Unfortunately, I can’t explain how to run Rosetta software under Lion. To my knowledge, that’s not possible — and please do correct me if I’m wrong! Instead, this article explain show to keep running that Rosetta-dependent software under Snow Leopard (or Leopard) while your computer runs Lion.
Curious? Read on.
What You Need
To take advantage of this workaround you need four things:
- A computer capable of running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or Leopard. That’s basically any recent Mac released before Lion was released in July.
- A Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard installation disc. The disc (or thumb drive) that came with your computer should do the trick — in fact, it’s your best starting point.
- A USB 2 or FireWire external hard disk. If your computer has two internal hard disks, you could actually use one of those. You could also partition your internal hard disk and use one of the partitions. But I prefer an external disk. It doesn’t need to have a very high capacity, but it should be blank because you may have to format it. You can buy a suitable portable disk — which makes it possible to use it on any computer capable of running Snow Leopard (or Leopard) — for well under $100 at Costco or Best Buy or on Amazon.com. The kind that draw power from their USB or FireWire connection are best for this use.
- The installation disks for the Rosetta software you need to run. In my case, it’s just Quicken 2007.
At this point, if you’re not a complete newbie — which I assume is the case because you need to run ancient software — you should have an idea of where I’m going with this.
The plan is to install Mac OS X 10.6 (or 10.5) on that external hard disk. You can then boot from that disk and install the ancient software you need to run. Once that’s done, you can boot from that disk any time you need to run that ancient software.
Now stop your whining! I can hear you all the way from here.
The sad truth is, there is no other alternative. If your problem is Quicken — as mine is — lots of Web sites are telling you to switch to the Windows version of Quicken and run it under Parallels or Windows running on Boot Camp. But do you really want to run Windows? I don’t. And do you really need to use that software all the time? I don’t. And isn’t this just temporary until you find replacement software that’ll run on Lion? For me, yes!
So this is the solution that’ll work without costing a fortune. Chances are, you already have an old external hard disk lying around somewhere. I sure do.
About My Emergency Boot Disk
True story. I was about 95% done with my Mac OS X Lion book when the internal hard disk on my iMac died. Fortunately, I had backups of all my files, so I didn’t lose any data. But I was stuck living in my RV in the middle of farmland, 100 miles away from the nearest Mac consultant capable of replacing an internal hard disk on an iMac.
What did I do? I went to Costco and bought a portable USB 2 drive. I then installed Mac OS X and the applications I needed to finish the book on that disk, along with my backed up documents. Although I expected Mac OS to run very sluggishly from that external hard disk, I was pleasantly surprised at how peppy it was. Not as good as running it from the internal disk, but certainly bearable.
And the reason I want to use an external hard disk? So that when I do find a replacement for Quicken (which I hope is soon), I don’t have to worry about getting all traces of an older OS off my second internal hard disk or a partition on my internal hard disk. And I can always use the external hard disk as an emergency boot disk if I need one for any computer capable of running that version of Mac OS. Or I can reformat it and use it for something else.
Installing Mac OS
First, try to install Snow Leopard (or Leopard) on the external hard disk without reformatting. If you prefer to reformat first, skip ahead to the section titled “If You Have to Reformat” and come back here when you’re done. I’m assuming you don’t want to reformat the hard disk because it contains data you need to use.
- Connect the external hard disk to your Mac. Depending on how you configured Finder preferences, its icon may appear on the Desktop or in a Finder window’s sidebar.
- Insert the Snow Leopard (or Leopard) installation disc or thumb drive. Remember, you must install a version of Mac OS that your computer can run. That’s why its always a good idea to install from the installation disc or thumb drive that came with your computer. In this illustration, icons for my external hard disk (Mobile Backup) and MacBook Air installation thumb drive appear on the Desktop.
- If necessary, open the installation disc/thumb drive icon. Then double-click the Install Mac OS X icon in the Mac OS X Install window. In this illustration, I’ve opened the icon for my MacBook Air’s thumb drive to install Snow Leopard. This launches the Installer.
- Follow the prompts to restart your computer. It will boot from the installation disc/thumbdrive. (That’s why its important to use an installer that your computer can run.) It may take a while to start up.
- Follow the prompts to choose your language, start the installation process, and agree to the license terms.
- In the window that asks which hard disk to install on, be sure to select the external hard disk. Your internal hard disk should not be selectable because it already has a later version of Mac OS X. If your external hard disk cannot be selected either, it likely needs to be formatted; if this happens, Quit the installer, restart from your internal hard disk, and skip ahead to the section titled “If You Have to Reformat.”
- After selecting your external hard disk, click the Customize button.
- In the window that appears, turn off the check boxes for Additional Fonts, Language Translations, and X11 (unless you need any of them). Turning these items off makes the installation smaller and may speed up running Mac OS X from an external hard disk. Be sure to turn on the check box beside Rosetta. Then click OK.
- Back in the main installer window, confirm again that the correct hard disk is selected. Then click Install.
- Wait while Mac OS X is installed on the external hard disk. It could take a while. Go get a cup of coffee or take your dog for a walk. When the installation is complete, your computer will automatically restart.
- Follow the onscreen prompts to complete the Mac OS setup on the external hard disk. I recommend not transferring your information from another source. (I’m one of those people who like a clean install of everything.) Eventually, you’ll be dumped into the Finder so you can start using your computer with the new OS on the external drive.
- Optional: Run Software Update to update Mac OS and its components to the most recent version.
You can eject the Mac OS installer disc/thumbdrive.
If You Have to Reformat
If you have to reformat your external hard disk — or if you want to, just to start with a clean slate — you can use Disk Utility to get the job done. Just remember that following these instructions will completely erase the hard disk, so don’t do this if the disk contains files you need.
With the external hard disk connected, follow these instructions:
- If necessary, start your computer from its internal hard disk and Lion installation.
- Open Disk Utility in the Utilities folder in your Applications folder.
- On the left side of the window, select the name of the hard disk you inserted.
- On the right side of the window, click the Erase button near the top of the window.
- Make sure Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is selected form the Format pop-up menu.
- If desired, enter a new name in the Name field.
- Click the Erase button near the bottom of the window.
- In the dialog that appears, click Erase.
- Wait while the disk is erased. It shouldn’t take very long.
- Quit Disk Utility.
Once this is done, you can follow the instructions in the section titled “Installing Mac OS” above.
Installing Your Rosetta-Dependent Software
Once Snow Leopard (or Leopard) is installed on the external hard disk, you can install your ancient, Rosetta-dependent software on it.
- If necessary, restart the computer from the external hard disk. One way to do this is to hold down the Option key while the computer is starting up and then choose the disk you want from the options that appear onscreen.
- Insert the original installation disc for the software you want to install.
- Open the installer.
- Follow the prompts to install the software.
Note that you might be prompted to install Rosetta. While I realize that if you followed the instructions in the section titled “Installing Mac OS” above Rosetta should already be installed, for some reason, it wasn’t installed for me. No big deal. Your computer can use its connection to the Internet to download and install Rosetta on demand.
When the installation is complete, you can open the software. You’ll find it in the Applications folder on the startup disk — your external hard disk.
Running that Old Software
From that point forward, any time you need to run that old Rosetta-dependent software, you’ll need to restart your computer and make sure it starts from the external hard disk. Yes, this is a pain in the butt. But hopefully, you won’t need to do this often — or forever.
You should be able to keep the data for the application on your internal hard disk — for example, my Quicken data files reside in my Documents folder in my usual Home folder. Quicken, when launched from my external hard disk, can still access them. In fact, I normally launch Quicken by opening one of its data files.
If you expect to need to use the application and its documents on multiple computers, save the files to the external hard disk’s Home folder. The data becomes just as portable as the hard disk. Just don’t forget to back it up periodically if the disk is not backed up with your other data.
When you’re not accessing that other software, you can unmount and disconnect the external hard disk. Just remember to restart your computer from its internal hard disk before you try to pull the plug.
That’s about all there is to it. What do you think? Will this solution work for you? Please share your comments. Just try to refrain from bashing Apple for dropping Rosetta or Intuit for not updating Quicken for Lion. Those two horses have been beaten to death so there’s no need to beat them here.