Because the M1 Macs use a different architecture than Intel Macs, developers must adapt their applications so that they run natively, in other words optimally. Without it, the Rosetta 2 emulation layer comes into play to ensure compatibility. Since the M1 chip is much more powerful than the Intel processors it replaces, the impact of emulation on performance is not visible: “Intel” apps run faster on M1 Macs than on most Intel Macs .
Nevertheless, it is interesting to know if an application has been optimized for the Apple Silicon architecture or not yet. Nothing could be simpler: make a secondary click on the application icon, then click on “Read information”. In the information panel, opposite the first “Type” field, there are three possible answers:
- Application (Universal): the application is optimized for the Apple Silicon architecture and also runs natively on Intel Macs
- Application (Intel): the application is not optimized for Apple Silicon Macs, but works (generally) thanks to Rosetta 2
- Application (Apple Silicon): the application is optimized for Apple Silicon and runs only on this architecture
Note that you have the option of running the Intel counterpart of Universal Applications through Rosetta by checking the “Open with Rosetta” box.
Another possibility to identify the type of apps on your Mac M1, open Activity Monitor then in the menu Presentation > Columns add “Architecture” (this option is not available on Intel Macs). You will then see either “Intel” or “Apple” depending on your apps.
To see the architecture type of all software, not just the software currently running, open the System Information application located in the Utilities folder, then select the “Applications” category. The information here is more complete, since we have the distinction between Universal programs (Apple Silicon + Intel) and Apple Silicon programs exclusively. These are very rare nowadays. We have only spotted some Adobe software in beta.
Logically, we see that Apple has converted all its software into universal applications … well, with the exception of a relic of the past: the Music app viewer is still an Intel program, and must therefore be emulated by Rosetta 2 .
For the status of other Mac applications, you can check our regularly updated list.