M1 Macs’ Rosetta 2 app translations can take 20 seconds on first launch

Apple this week announced Rosetta 2 technology for the M1, the most powerful chip Apple has ever created and the first chip designed specifically for the Mac.

Rosetta 2 enables existing Intel apps not yet upgraded to Universal to run seamlessly on Macs with Apple silicon.
Rosetta 2 enables existing Intel apps not yet upgraded to Universal to run seamlessly on Macs with Apple silicon.

With Big Sur and M1, Mac users can run a greater range of apps than ever before. All of Apple’s Mac software is now Universal and runs natively on M1 systems. Existing Mac apps that have not been updated to Universal will run seamlessly with Apple’s Rosetta 2 technology. With the power of Metal and M1, developers will see some of their most graphically demanding apps perform even better under Rosetta 2 than they did running natively on Intel-based Macs with integrated graphics.

Joe Rossignol for MacRumors:

Apps built for Intel’s x86 architecture will need to be run through Apple’s translation layer Rosetta 2 in order to function on Apple Silicon Macs, and this process can take some time.

Microsoft this week indicated that when launching any of its Mac apps for the first time on Apple Silicon Macs, the apps will bounce in the dock for approximately 20 seconds while the Rosetta 2 translation process is completed, with all subsequent launches being fast. This applies to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and OneDrive.

MacDailyNews Note: Apple’s developer doc, “About the Rosetta Translation Environment,” states: “To the user, Rosetta is mostly transparent. If an executable contains only Intel instructions, macOS automatically launches Rosetta and begins the translation process. When translation finishes, the system launches the translated executable in place of the original. However, the translation process takes time, so users might perceive that translated apps launch or run more slowly at times.”

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. If you ask me, doing a binary translation of that code in only 20 seconds is pretty damn fast. Yeah, we would all love for it to be instantaneous, but that’s impossible. The real question is, how often does Rosetta 2 screw up and not properly translate (or miss) some code? Is this something like Java’s JIT where it’s continually checking for code that needs to be translated at runtime?

  2. WooHoo! Great news for legacy software users everywhere to be up and running in a matter of seconds. Certainly the biggest concerns for many switching to Apple silicon. I’ve held off purchasing a new Mac until this announcement and plan on M1 purchase when it debuts in my favorite PRO machine…

    1. Yes must admit this is a far better situation than I expected especially considering my Office applications generally take that long to open anyway though they are old versions I admit. As stated reliability of software is by far the primary concern so will await that answer as time passes. Long way from the days of power PC replacing Motorola when you were lucky if you could keep an application from quitting for more than ten minutes at times. Mind you that happening at regular interviews was the norm anyway. I remember a woman doing 2 days worth of intense photoshop work without actually saving when it crashed which put her into a total panic, I was just shocked that she had managed to get it to last that long. Those were the days.

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