Is there any way to install and use PowerPC applications on Intel based macs? I have older Adobe software that I would like to use, and cannot use on my new iMac.

  • I assume you mean on intel Macs running Lion, right?
    – gentmatt
    Mar 19, 2012 at 14:24
  • This question is somewhat vague. Rosetta (PPC Library) dependencies aside, whether or not a given application will run is going to depend on many things. Perhaps you can provide a little more information about what you're trying to accomplish.
    – jaberg
    Mar 19, 2012 at 14:27
  • 1
    Yes I should have mentioned that, did not think it would make that large of a difference Mar 19, 2012 at 15:11

7 Answers 7


There was an emulation layer called Rosetta to allow Intel Macs to run PowerPC applications that Apple provided from Mac OS X 10.4 to 10.6. Sadly, they removed it in 10.7 Lion and it no longer works. Given that you said your iMac is brand new, it presumably came with Lion preinstalled, and is unable to run anything older. So, unfortunately, the answer is no.

Your options are to upgrade your Adobe software to an Intel version, trade in your new Mac for a slightly older used Mac (from early 2011 or earlier) and put Snow Leopard on it, or continue to use your old hardware for your Adobe software.

  • Adobe Photoshop 7 stopped working under OS X 10.5(?-memory may be failing me here) for reasons other than Rosetta. The base answer is the same—*no*—but a future Rosetta magic box won't necessarily allow all PPC software to run under Lion.
    – jaberg
    Mar 19, 2012 at 17:52

There is a solution: Use Snow Leopard. It comes with rosetta which is an emulation layer for PPC apps.

If you use Lion there is also a solution: Use Snow Leopard:

To achieve a dual system configuration use either VirtualBox, VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop for Mac.

Install Snow Leopard on a virtual machine.

Install Rosetta and your applications.

Run the applications on the virtual machine.

It is not the most efficient or the most convenient way, but until LionRosetta is released it should do.

An up to date setup is described here.

Edit: LionRosetta is no more.

  • According to the Mac OS licensing terms, you can not virtualize Snow Leopard client (only server). In this case, I would recommend installing SL on a separate partition/disk and booting to it when needed.
    – jmlumpkin
    Mar 19, 2012 at 17:18
  • Your link for LionRosetta goes to a page stating "Buy this domain! This domain is FOR SALE!". Perhaps the project never got off the ground? You might want to remove the reference. Jul 5, 2013 at 22:03

Instructions for installing Snow Leopard (and Rosetta) into Parallels 7 in Lion:


  • Answers on Ask Different need to be more than just a link. It's okay to include a link, but please summarize or excerpt it in the answer. The idea is to make the answer stand alone.
    – Daniel
    Jul 5, 2013 at 20:29

Unfortunately, I have to have a Snow Leo partition. Pro Tools 9 only runs in SL and upgrading is not all that cheap, plus, it performs like a champ. Also, I use an app called DrumCore, which is amazing for solo recording musicians. It contains tons of loops played by top session drummers and allows you to change the speed without degrading sound. You can cut up the loops, use midi data & a sound replacer if you want, etc etc. There is a newer version, but it is SOOOO expensive. Version 2 is PowerPC only. Running a VM isn't really feasible for audio production. So, I have to do all my drum tracks is Snow Leo & PT 9, then if I want, reboot into newer OS and open session in PT 10. But I also still have a dual 2GHz G5 which runs lightning fast with the versions of apps that were designed for it.

In short, don't emulate and keep your PPC Mac or buy one used is the best option.


I bought Lion when it very first came out and it did support my camera which is a PowerPC based Canon. The guys at the Apple Store recently ran updates and now it will not. So it is untrue that the original Lion did not support it. For some reason down the line Apple decided not to support it anymore on Lion. It was never an original cannot do that on an original Lion.

Wish they would offer me going back instead of Yosemite. I'd take them up on that one.

Marjorie Cameron

  • 1
    Per Wikipedia (and everybody else...search for "lion support for powerpc applications" on google): "Rosetta is not installed by default in Mac OS X Snow Leopard, but can be retained as an option via the installer... Rosetta is neither included nor supported in Mac OS X v10.7 "Lion" or later. Therefore, with Lion and later releases, the current Macintosh platform does not support PowerPC applications."
    – tubedogg
    Nov 25, 2014 at 4:56

I was experiencing the same problem and was shocked that I can't use PPC on the Mac I bought.

So, after reading all of the sheepshaver and Snow Leopard forums, I finally came across "winebottlercombo.bmg". Look it up, download it and set it up. You might have to download xquartz.dmg as well, I had to.

When you download and set up these two programs, they allow you to use a .exe (Windows execution file) and from there you can use what is known to the Mac as an "unsupported" ppc file as a .exe Windows file through "Winebottler". Totally bypasses the "unsupported PPC" on Mac OS X Lion.

So just copy the image of the CD that you want using a Windows pc, make sure that you are copying the .exe file and open/set it up with the wine file on your Mac and it will work like a charm, without having to go through all of the set up procedures.

After it is set up, whatever .exe and .lnk file you want to use, always "Open With--> wine.app"

Note: you may have to look for the .lnk file via search in Finder. That is the file I needed to find to use the program I set up.

So sorry if this is not so clear, I am also new to the Mac world and don't know all of the Mac lingo yet.

  • 2
    You were shocked that you couldn't use software written for a processor that Apple hasn't used in its computers since 2006? Mar 18, 2013 at 12:59
  • 2
    I am confused here - Wine (of which there are easier ways to use) runs windows programs nor PPC
    – mmmmmm
    Mar 18, 2013 at 13:02
  • ALso if you found winebottlercombo please give a link rather than ask us to search for it.
    – mmmmmm
    Mar 18, 2013 at 13:05
  • Wine can enable running Windows exe files on an Intel Mac and Winebottler creates standalone application bundles for running Windows programs. Neither of these has anything to do with running a PowerPC Mac application or any Mac application.
    – Mr. Mel
    Jul 5, 2013 at 23:27

I just used terminal to install FCP6 on my new intel macbook pro. I was getting hit with the "Cannot install PowerPC" error when clicking on the installer. screenshot1 screenshot2

  • 3
    How does this solve the problem of running PPC applications on recent OS X versions?
    – nohillside
    Apr 28, 2014 at 19:36

You must log in to answer this question.

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