Can you tell from a .dmg file if it contains arm64 binaries?

I've got a Mac mini M1 running Big Sur. I don't want to run apps under Intel, only arm64. I don't even have Rosetta installed, and want to avoid installing it.

I can install apps, try to run them, and see if they request Rosetta installation. But I'd like to know if the .dmg file contains binaries compiled for arm64 without running the application.

2 Answers 2


A DMG is just a container, it doesn't know about it contents.

If application is distributed without a package (so it's application you can just drag&drop to /Applications) you can run

hdiutil attach THE_DMG
file /Volume/THE_DMG/THE_APPLICATION.app/Contents/MacOS/*

to see what kind of binary it is.

  • 1
    @KlasMellbourn See the second part of the answer :-) You will need to mount the DMG to do so of course.
    – nohillside
    Dec 11, 2020 at 13:55
  • 1
    @KlasMellbourn I usually just double-click, but hdiutil works as well :-)
    – nohillside
    Dec 11, 2020 at 14:01
  • 2
    @KlasMellbourn Not sure DMG can even do that.
    – nohillside
    Dec 11, 2020 at 14:18
  • 1
    Generally speaking opening a DMG will not initiate an installation. It is possible to set up a DMG to do that but you can simply cancel the installer without running the App itself. And if it is just an App inside the DMG you can get info on it to see what kind of binary it is. Dec 11, 2020 at 14:27
  • 1
    I am fairly sure it's not actually possible to make a DMG file automatically launch anything. They can display a license agreement, but they can't actually launch an application. As others have said, .dmg is just a container for a filesystem and double clicking simply mounts it so you can view (and optionally install) the contents
    – Josh
    Dec 11, 2020 at 22:51

you can get info on the app, by right click and get info, or cmd+i, and see what it is designed for. Intel, Apple Silicon, or Universal.

  • The app file, yes, but not the .dmg file. Dec 11, 2020 at 17:53
  • @KlasMellbourn a DMG is architecture-independent
    – nohillside
    Dec 11, 2020 at 22:57
  • This would be a good answer to a question asking how to tell an app is architected as opposed to a question on what a package contains. It’s like asking what food is in the foil tray or the paper bag. Image files lack any code since they contain other files.
    – bmike
    Dec 12, 2020 at 19:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .