I'm wondering if there is any way to run Rosetta on macOS Sierra. In this post, someone mentioned that Rosetta may uses the Carbon framework, which appears to exist in up to macOS Sierra. Are there any missing frameworks in macOS Sierra that Rosetta requires?

I'll attempt to install Rosetta on macOS Sierra soon, and will update the question after doing so

Update: it turns out that Rosetta is a file named translate which is placed in /usr/libexec/oah/. When running /usr/libexec/oah/translate, either as when installed by the Snow Leopard Rosetta installer, and installed by Pacifist, I get Killed: 9. But, when running ~/Downloads/Rosetta/usr/libexec/oah/, which was extracted by Pacifist, I get the following:

$ ~/Downloads/Rosetta/usr/libexec/oah/translate
objc[21035]: Objective-C garbage collection is no longer supported.
Abort trap: 6

After looking more into Rosetta.pkg (which isn't actually located in Optional Installs.mpkg somehow), I noticed that aside from postinstall and preinstall scripts, there was a folder named postinstall_actions which contained a script named registerRosetta. Here are the contents of that script:

if [ "$3" == "/" ]; then
    logger -p install.info Registering Rosetta
    /usr/sbin/sysctl -w kern.exec.archhandler.powerpc=/usr/libexec/oah/translate

So, I decided to backup /usr/sbin/sysctl and then try running part of the script. This is what happened:

root# /usr/sbin/sysctl -w kern.exec.archhandler.powerpc=/usr/libexec/oah/translate
sysctl: unknown oid 'kern.exec.archhandler.powerpc'

I don't know about this stuff, but it looks like something is missing.

Update 2: I've discovered this discussion about getting Rosetta to run on OS X Lion, which unfortunately seemed to stop in 2011, without having provided (as far as I could understand) a conclusion to whether Rosetta can be run on OS X Lion. I'm going to look into modifying macOS more, to make this work. I have no idea how much is going to need to be done, but I can hopefully get an idea by continuing where the discussion on InsanelyMac forums left off.

  • What app or functionality are you looking to retain? Are you sure there's no modern alternative?
    – benwiggy
    Oct 31, 2019 at 7:47
  • @benwiggy I'm looking to run PPC apps, on a modern macOS. I've tried alternatives, but aside from setting up a Snow Leopard Server VM (which isn't the type of solution that I'm looking for, but I will use if I have to), no solutions have worked for me so far.
    – Sam
    Oct 31, 2019 at 18:14
  • Which apps? Ultimately, there comes a point when you either have to use old hardware to run old software, or migrate to new software.
    – benwiggy
    Oct 31, 2019 at 20:26

1 Answer 1


You can try installing Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6.8) in VirtualBox. I was able to do this using an iMac (21.5 inch, Mid 2011) with High Sierra installed. I was able to install and use Adobe Create Suite 2 in a Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6.8) virtual machine. Adobe Create Suite 2 requires the installation and use of Rosetta.

VirtualBox is a free application. I can not longer find the link to buy Snow Leopard from Apple. Used DVDs are available or you can refer to this answer.

Below is a link for the license for Snow Leopard. As far as I can tell, Apple requires the use of a Mac to run Snow Leopard. There is no mention of whether or not the Mac uses a virtual machine.


  • 1
    The Snow Leopard licence prohibits running it in a VM. But you can legally run Snow Leopard Server in a VM, so that’s the one to get.
    – Mike Scott
    Oct 31, 2019 at 7:04
  • @Mike: I added to my answer the part of the license with regards running in a VM. Where does it state this is prohibited? Oct 31, 2019 at 7:52
  • Getting a copy of Snow Leopard Server wasn't easy, but I'll try to create a VM from it if I can't run Rosetta
    – Sam
    Oct 31, 2019 at 16:54
  • @DavidAnderson For example, see this MacWorld article about virtualising Leopard and Snow Leopard: macworld.com/article/1163755/…
    – Mike Scott
    Oct 31, 2019 at 17:37
  • 1
    @Mike: Thanks for the link to the article. In my option, if you own a single use Snow Leopard DVD and use the DVD (or an ISO made from the DVD) to install Snow Leopard in a VirtualBox virtual machine running on Apple Mac computer, you would not be violating the license, provided the Mac was the only machine with Snow Leopard installed from the DVD or ISO. Both the article and the Snow leopard license seem to confirm this. I realize the article says you are not allow to, but the article offers no evidence to support such a claim. VirtualBox does not turn a Mac into non–Apple–branded computer. Oct 31, 2019 at 19:30

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