Following the launch of Macs powered by Apple silicon, numerous third-party apps have been updated to ensure they are optimized to run on Apple's custom processors. Even if an app hasn't been updated, Apple's non-Intel Macs can still run them, thanks to Apple's Rosetta 2 translation layer. But how do you know which of your apps are running natively as Universal executables and which ones are using Rosetta emulation? Read on to find out.

m1 macs banner

Universal Apps Explained

When developers update their apps to run natively on Apple silicon, they use something called a Universal binary. Originally, Universal apps referred to executable files that run natively on both PowerPC or Intel Macs. At WWDC 2020 in June, however, Apple announced Universal 2, which allows apps to run on both Intel-based Macs and Apple silicon Macs.

If an app has yet to be updated to Universal 2, an Apple silicon Mac will still run it, but it will do so by converting the Intel x86-64 code using Rosetta 2 emulation software. Even when emulating x86 code under Rosetta 2, the Macs with Apple silicon generally run non-native apps faster than Intel-based Macs, but it's good to know which apps have been optimized for the advanced hardware inside your M1 Mac. Here's how.

How to Check for Universal Apps in macOS

  1. Click the Apple symbol in the top-left corner of your Mac's menu bar and choose About This Mac.
    about this mac

  2. In the "Overview" tab, click the System Report... button.
    about this mac overview copy

  3. In the System Report window, select Software -> Applications in the sidebar. In the Applications list that loads, look under the Kind column to see whether an app is a Universal binary or a non-native Intel executable.
    check for universal apps copy

In addition to the System Report list, you can check individual apps too: right-click an app's icon in Finder, then select Get Info from the contextual menu and look at its Kind under "General."

In addition to the above, iMazing has released a free app [Direct Link] that scans your macOS apps and displays their supported CPU architecture, while repo offers a free menu bar app called Silicon Info that lets you quickly view the architecture of the currently running application.

silicon info

Silicon Info menu bar app

You can also check if an app has been optimized for Apple silicon before you even install it, thanks to a website by Abdullah Diaa called Is Apple silicon ready? The site maintains an up-to-date database of apps indicating native ‌M1‌ support, Rosetta 2 only, and those that don't work at all.

It's worth noting that Apple considers Rosetta 2 to be a temporary solution for developers while they remake their existing Intel-based programs to run on Arm-based Macs, meaning they will eventually need to create Universal apps that work natively on both ‌‌Intel and Apple silicon‌‌ machines.

Apple ended support for OG Rosetta three years after its release to smooth the transition from PowerPC chips to Intel processors, so if a developer doesn't update their app eventually, it may become unusable on Apple silicon machines in the future.

Related Forum: macOS Big Sur

Top Rated Comments

gpmcadam Avatar
21 months ago
If you open Activity Monitor and filter the processes by name, it also shows in the Architecture column either 'Apple' or 'Intel.'



Attachment Image
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yanksrock100 Avatar
21 months ago
Developer of the Silicon Info menu bar app here, so cool to see the app mentioned on MacRumors :)

I was tired of constantly opening Activity Monitor to see if my apps were running natively yet so I figured the menu bar was the quicker. Hope others find it useful too!

Cheers
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wowfunhappy Avatar
21 months ago
I really do hope Rosetta 2 will stick around for much longer than the original Rosetta. Rosetta 1 was always slow on computers of the day, and consequently did not make for a great user experience. It was also licensed technology, and Apple presumably didn't want to keep paying the licensing fee.

Rosetta 2 was developed in-house, and it's super fast. And, perhaps even more importantly, there are far more Intel Mac apps than there ever were PPC apps (because Macs are more popular today), so we’d loose access to a much richer library of software.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacCraig Pro Avatar
21 months ago

I really do hope Rosetta 2 will stick around for much longer than the original Rosetta. Rosetta 1 was licensed technology, and Apple presumably didn’t want to keep paying the licensing fee. Plus, it was pretty slow on machines of the day.

Rosetta 2 was developed in-house, and it’s super fast. Plus, there are far more Intel Mac apps than there ever were PPC apps; the Mac is more popular today, so the software library is larger.
Agreed! It works really well and is seem less so far for me.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
haruhiko Avatar
21 months ago
That it’s so difficult to tell which apps are running natively and which are running emulated is a great achievement of Apple. I can’t really distinguish which app is running on Rosetta on my M1 8/8 MBA. They are all very fast, and much faster than my 2017 iMac with 32GB of RAM.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
justperry Avatar
21 months ago

I get Universal binaries. It's easy. But sadly it also goes with double file sizes too.

It's OK for small apps but some exceed 3GB (Ableton Live for example). So basically the Universal app you need to download is 6GB instead of 3GB (and it also will occupy 6GB on your system).

I remember PPC/Intel Stripping tools which could strip the unneeded.
But that's not possible now with code signing - if you would strip it now, it just won't work.

Anyhow, I think devs should also provide separate ARM and Intel downloads.
This is not true, a binary is just part of the App package, a slimmed-down App will not magically give you back half of that App size.
There's a lot more in an App package than Binaries, like for instance images, supporting files, databases and so on.

Just an example below, this is Safari App package, look at the Safari binary size, there are more binaries in /Safari/Contents but not that many and not huge.

Edit: I just researched a bit more into the Safari App package, it's ~19 MB, slimming it down would not even save you 1 MB.
There are much bigger binaries but in my experience slimming down an App folder saves you max 10% of the total size, done that after going from PPC to Intel, lots of Universal Apps back than, there are still Universal Intel/PPC Apps.



Attachment Image
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

Universal Control Colored Feature

How to Adjust or Disable Universal Control on Mac

Tuesday March 15, 2022 7:26 am PDT by
As of iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3, Apple has introduced support for Universal Control, the long-awaited feature that's designed to allow multiple Macs and iPads to be controlled with a single mouse and keyboard. Thanks to ‌Universal Control‌, you can use the same cursor and keyboard on any nearby Mac or ‌iPad‌ that's signed into your iCloud account. So, for example, if you...
live text macos monterey feature

How to Turn Off Live Text on Mac

Tuesday February 15, 2022 12:26 pm PST by
In macOS Monterey, Apple's Live Text feature can automatically recognize text when it appears in an image in Safari, Photos, Preview, Quick Look, and elsewhere, allowing you to copy or share it. If you find this text auto-detection a distraction, and you might prefer to turn it off. This article explains how. How to Turn Off Live Text in macOS Launch System Preferences from your Mac's Dock, ...
multiple copies same app home screen

How to Add the Same App to Multiple Home Screens on Your iPhone

Wednesday March 9, 2022 1:15 pm PST by
In iOS 15, you can put multiple copies of the same app on your iPhone's Home Screen. On the surface, this may seem like a strange thing to allow, and perhaps even a bug, but Apple has intentionally made it possible to have additional copies of an app across several Home Screen pages so that the apps can be used in conjunction with its new Focus features. One of the functions of Focus is that ...
macbook air facetime camera

How to Enable Wide Spectrum Audio in FaceTime on Mac

Thursday February 17, 2022 3:19 pm PST by
In macOS Monterey, Apple brings several enhancements to its FaceTime video and audio calling platform, including new visual and audio effects to improve your call experience. One of the audio features is Wide Spectrum mode. This microphone mode brings every single sound into your call, making it ideal for when you want the other person to hear everything that's happening in the space you're ...
fullscreen menu bar macos

How to Make Your Mac's Menu Bar Stay Visible in Full Screen Mode

Friday January 7, 2022 9:20 am PST by
In macOS Monterey, when you take an app fullscreen by clicking the green traffic light icon in the top-left corner of the app window, the menu bar may be hidden from view in order to draw your focus to the window's content. If you're using a Mac that has a camera housing or "notch" centered at the top of the screen, like a 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro, hiding the menu bar effectively makes ...
2018 2018 macbook pro battery

How to Show Battery Percentage in Your Mac's Menu Bar

Wednesday March 2, 2022 8:09 pm PST by
If you're the sort of person who likes to know exactly how much battery life your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air has left, then you'll want macOS to show the percentage next to the battery level icon in the menu bar. This article explains how. If you look at the right-hand side of the menu bar in macOS Monterey, you'll notice a battery level icon indicating the amount of charge your Mac has...
MacBook Pro 2021 SharePlay Feature

How to Force Quit a Frozen Mac App

Wednesday January 19, 2022 3:20 pm PST by
Macs aren't infallible, and at some point during your time using them you'll come across a situation in macOS where an app has become unresponsive, leaving you without access to its contents and functions, and only a continually revolving beachball for your troubles. If the beachball stays on the screen for more than a few minutes and you can't interact with the app's interface, this usually ...
edge browser KM Night Mode

How to Change Your Default Browser on Mac

Wednesday March 2, 2022 8:13 pm PST by
In macOS, Apple's Safari is the default browser for accessing the web, but you don't have to keep it that way. This article shows you how to change your default web browser to an alternative option. Keep reading to learn how. Microsoft Edge Apple's Safari has been met with complaints from some users in recent years over the browser's bugs, user experience, and website compatibility....

Popular Stories

widgets ios 16 feature

Gurman: iPhone 14 Pro to Feature Always-On Display Showing iOS 16's New Lock Screen Widgets

Sunday June 26, 2022 7:36 am PDT by
iPhone 14 Pro models are widely expected to feature always-on displays that allow users to view glanceable information without having to tap to wake the screen. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter for Bloomberg, Mark Gurman said the feature will include support for iOS 16's new Lock screen widgets for weather, fitness, and more. "Like the Apple Watch, the iPhone 14 Pro will be...
maxresdefault

M2 13-Inch MacBook Pro With 256GB SSD Appears Slower Than Equivalent M1 in Real-World Speed Tests

Monday June 27, 2022 1:57 pm PDT by
Benchmark testing has indicated that the 256GB variant of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 chip offers slower SSD performance than its M1 equivalent, and now real-world stress testing by YouTuber Max Yuryev of Max Tech suggests that the 256GB SSD in the 13-inch MacBook Pro is also underperforming in day-to day-usage. The M2 MacBook Pro with 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM was slower than the M1 MacBook ...
13 inch macbook pro m2 mock feature 2

Base 13-Inch MacBook Pro With M2 Chip Has Significantly Slower SSD Speeds

Sunday June 26, 2022 2:52 pm PDT by
Following the launch of Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 chip, it has been discovered that the $1,299 base model with 256GB of storage has significantly slower SSD read/write speeds compared to the equivalent previous-generation model. YouTube channels such as Max Tech and Created Tech tested the 256GB model with Blackmagic's Disk Speed Test app and found that the SSD's read and...
m2 mac mini screen feature

Gurman: Apple Planning M2 Pro Mac Mini, New Apple TV With A14 Chip, Revamped HomePod With S8 Chip, and More

Sunday June 26, 2022 6:31 am PDT by
In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter for Bloomberg, Mark Gurman outlined additional M2 Macs on Apple's product roadmap, including new Mac mini models with M2 and M2 Pro chips, new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, and a new Mac Pro tower with M2 Ultra and "M2 Extreme" chips. Following the M2 series of Macs, Gurman said the first M3 series of...
M2 Pro and Max Feature

Apple's Upcoming M2 Pro Chip for High-End MacBook Pro and Mac Mini Will Reportedly Be 3nm

Monday June 27, 2022 7:31 am PDT by
TSMC will manufacture Apple's upcoming "M2 Pro" and "M3" chips based on its 3nm process, according to Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes. "Apple reportedly has booked TSMC capacity for its upcoming 3nm M3 and M2 Pro processors," said DigiTimes, in a report focused on competition between chipmakers like TSMC and Samsung to secure 3nm chip orders. As expected, the report said TSMC will...
iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro

iPhone 11 Pro vs. 14 Pro: New Features to Expect if You've Waited to Upgrade

Monday June 27, 2022 11:22 am PDT by
With many customers choosing to upgrade their iPhone every two or three years nowadays, there are lots of iPhone 11 Pro users who might be interested in upgrading to the iPhone 14 Pro later this year. Those people are in for a treat, as three years of iPhone generations equals a long list of new features and changes to look forward to. Below, we've put together a list of new features and...
tesla carplay hack

Tesla Apple CarPlay Hack Updated to Work With Any Tesla Model

Monday June 27, 2022 3:38 am PDT by
Polish developer Michał Gapiński has released a new and improved version of his "Tesla Android Project" which brings Apple's CarPlay experience to more Tesla vehicles than ever before. According to Gapiński, version 2022.25.1 provides "100% functional CarPlay integration for any Tesla," and comes with several new features and bug fixes. The project now supports DRM video playback so that...
2022 back to school apple

Apple Launches 2022 Back to School Offer: Up to $150 Gift Card With Mac or iPad

Friday June 24, 2022 5:08 am PDT by
Apple today launched its annual "Back to School" promotion for college/university students in the United States and Canada. This year's promotion offers a free Apple gift card with the purchase of an eligible Mac or iPad, rather than free AirPods like last year. Apple is also offering students 20% off AppleCare+ plans during the promotion. Apple is offering a $150 gift card with the purchase ...