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Apple created a dynamic binary translator called Rosetta and bundled it into their OS X operating system. As of OS 10.7, however, Rosetta was removed, and PowerPC applications are no longer supported on Intel-based boxes running the latest OS X software. Is there a way to bring Rosetta back? How can I run PowerPC applications on an Intel Mac?

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You can "bring Rosetta back" by installing an older version of Mac OS X which supports it — Tiger, Leopard or Snow Leopard (on the latter it's an optional component). Rosetta was removed from later version for licensing reasons.

If you have an installation CD for PowerPC Mac OS X, you can use a full-system emulator to run it. Currently it seems your best bet is QEMU. If your application works on MacOS 9, and you have the appropriate installation media, you could also try SheepShaver (which emulates PowerPC Macs but doesn't support Mac OS X). PearPC is another PowerPC system emulator but I'm not sure how well it works (compared to QEMU).

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    You can still call Apple (1-800-MY-APPLE) and buy Snow Leopard Server which supports Rosetta and virtualization. Purchasing the server license is the only legal route to run Rosetta on current Macs. There is a longer discussion on this at Ask Different – Michael Shopsin Jun 16 '16 at 18:35
  • @MichaelShopsin According to this answer on the linked question, Apple is no longer shipping Snow Leopard Server. – JAL Jun 19 '16 at 14:57
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    @JAL apparently if you call up Apple they can still ship you Snow Leopard Server, they don't advertise it on the website though. There are ways to mark regular Snow Leopard as server for virtualization, but that violates the license agreement. FYI I still run Snow Leopard at home and Rosetta is very handy since I have Adobe Creative Suite CS2 which is PPC only. – Michael Shopsin Jun 20 '16 at 14:32
  • I believe the last Mac OS X version to still support Rosetta was Snow Leopard 10.6.8. – Retro Gamer Aug 22 '17 at 16:21
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As far as I know, there's no way to bring Rosetta back - so your only option (providing you have OS X install discs with PPC support), would be to set up PearPC - which emulates an entire system.

That being said, I don't know how well it runs - I only played with an 0.1 a very long time ago, and none of the more recent versions.

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Assuming that your host computer has an Intel CPU and you wanted the most recent version of Rosetta, then you could run Snow Leopard 10.6.8 on VirtualBox. Unfortunately, just having Rosetta may not solve all your problems because some PowerPC applications or games require the classic Mac environment. In this case, you would need the classic MacOS 9 environment running on PowerPC. This can be done with QEMU or some other type of CPU emulator if your host computer is an Intel-based CPU.

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Parallels and VirtualBox allow you to do whole system emulation as well, and running Mac on Mac seems a normal thing to do with it. These are much quicker than QEMU or PearPC.

  • VirtualBox can only be ran on x86 or x64 machines. It cannot be ran on PowerPC machines, therefore VirtualBox cannot "emulate" PowerPC because it is not an emulator. It is a virtualization tool. QEMU would be your best option because it is still maintained, and it can emulate CPU's other than the machine it runs on. – Retro Gamer Aug 22 '17 at 16:16
  • @RetroGamer VirtualBox can virtualize an older version of Intel macOS which supported Rosetta. – duskwuff Aug 22 '17 at 20:32
  • Correct, so the latest version of Mac OS X that still has Rosetta support and that can be ran off of VirtualBox would be Snow Leopard 10.6.8 (the intel version) – Retro Gamer Aug 22 '17 at 20:35

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