Apple’s ARM Macs include a machine translation solution named Rosetta 2. This lets those Macs run existing software designed for Intel Macs. But it’s not perfect. Here’s how to check whether your software is compatible before buying an Apple Silicon Mac.
We recommend checking out the “Is Apple silicon ready?” website. This website, created by programmer Abdullah Diaa, provides a searchable directory that brings together compatibility information from all over the web.
Head to the website, search for an application, and look at the available information. If an app has a checkmark in the “Apple silicon optimized” column, that tells you it has an official version that runs natively and speedily on Apple Silicon. The “M1 Supported version” column tells you which version of the app supports Apple Silicon.
If an app has a checkmark in the “Rosetta 2” column, that tells you it works properly via the Rosetta 2 translation layer. The app will run and be usable on an ARM Mac.
In some cases, you might see a yellow caution triangle. This indicates that the app may work properly, but that it may have some bugs. You can click any app and you’ll see a link to further information about any problems and plans for compatibility—perhaps on the developer’s website, on a discussion forum, or in a Twitter thread somewhere.
That’s the real advantage of this website—it brings discussions from all over the web together in one place.
You could also hunt down this information yourself—for example, if you’re wondering whether a professional app supports Apple Silicon, you can head to the developer’s website and see if they have an announcement. You could also perform a web search for the name of the app and “m1 mac” to see if it works properly on Apple’s first M1 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. But this directory should save you some time.
Really, Rosetta 2 works amazingly well—especially compared to Microsoft’s half-baked emulation layer in Windows 10 on ARM. As of November 2020, Microsoft’s Windows 10 on ARM still can’t emulate 64-bit Intel applications—years after it was first released!