Now that the first Macs with an Apple Silicon processor are sold, you can take full advantage of Check universal apps for Mac. These are applications that can be used on both Macs with an Intel processor or Apple Silicon chip.
New apps developed with the latest Xcode will support both Intel and Apple Silicon. If an Apple Silicon version of an app is not yet available, Rosetta 2 will make sure that the app works on an Apple Silicon Mac. Under macOS Big Sur you can easily check which apps are universal and can therefore be used on both platforms.
Check universal apps for Mac
- Open ▸ About This Mac
- Navigate to the ‘Overview’ tab
- Click on ‘System overview’
- Scroll down the column to the ‘Software’ category
- Click on the ‘Apps’ menu option
An overview of all apps, tools and background processes that are used on your Mac immediately appears. In addition to the version number and origin, you can also check whether an app is ‘universal’. This can be found under ‘Type’, an overview:
- Universal: Works on both a Mac with Intel and Silicon
- Intel: Optimized for Intel chips, runs on Silicon thanks to Rosetta 2
- 32-bit: No longer supported and must be replaced
View universal apps through Finder
In addition, you can also find out directly via Finder whether an application is universal. Click with a secondary click (right mouse button) on an app in Finder and choose ‘Get info’. Then you can read under ‘Type’ which structure is used. Is an app universal? Then you can enable the option ‘Open with Rosetta’.
What is Rosetta 2
In 2005, Apple designated the Rosetta software as ‘The most amazing software you’ll never see’. That was because the app ran completely in the background and made sure that your non-optimized PowerPC apps could still be used on an Intel Mac. This will also be the case for the switch from Intel to Apple’s own processor. All apps that are only optimized for Intel also work on a Mac with Apple Silicon.
Although the Intel apps work fine under Apple’s own processors, there is one to report. While Rosetta works seamlessly, it can slow down apps. Apple is urging developers to optimize their apps for Silicon and make them universal. This benefits the speed and reliability.
What about iOS apps?
Thanks to Apple Silicon, these Macs can also run applications for iOS and iPadOS. These can be downloaded from the Mac App Store. Note that not all apps support this option. Developers must first give permission and place their apps in the Mac App Store. A developer can therefore determine that their app remains exclusive to iPhone and iPad.