HowTo: Get PowerPC apps working again (on Intel mac)

This tutorial* explains a method that helped me get my PowerPC apps running again after they have started crashing immediately at launch (I am running the latest Leopard upgrade Mac OS X 10.5.2). I thought I’d share it with you to save you from all the trouble I went through lately.

Symptom:

You are on an Intel Mac. PowerPC (that means non-native) apps are always crashing immediately when you try to open one.

Before you proceed, you might want to have a look at the log file of the specific app after the crash. In the crash dialog, click on Report… and then on Problem details above to see what was put into the file. If you see a process called translated you have good chances to get it working again with my method.

If there is nothing like “translated”, please scroll down and try a simpler method from Apple’s support website first (although that didn’t solve my problem).

Solution:

The problem lies behind the Rosetta application, more precisely, a process called translated. This process is also a file in the system responsible for PowerPC apps to run properly. Somehow, this file must have gotten corrupted. But don’t ask me how, I am not an expert. 

1st step: Look for your Leopard Installation DVD (the disc that was delivered with your Mac or the one you bought in-store for upgrade).

2nd step: First finish your work and save it. Then restart your computer. Now put the DVD into the computer.

3rd step: Now, in Finder, click on Go to… and then Go to folder… In the new window type in (case sensitive!): 

/Volumes/[OS X disk image name]/usr/libexec/oah/

where OS X disk name stands for the name of the DVD you’ve just inserted (you can see its name on the desktop). Now you should see two files. One should be a folder with the name Shims and the other one our wanted file translate. Now copy ONLY the translate file.

4th step: Open again the Go to folder… dialog. Now type in:

 /usr/libexec/oah/

Again, you should be able to see the folder and the file translate. Before you paste the copied file here and replace the other file you may want to backup the existing translate file from here. Do this first if you want to play it safe! (Maybe you have to type in your user password once; this is nothing special for important system files as these)

5th step: Now close all open windows and do not touch any files in the system anymore! Afterwards, restart your computer.

Now everything should be working again as usual. Congrats!

CRASHING OFFICE APPS (PARTIAL SOLUTION): Visit the following Apple support page to see another solution for crashing PPC apps (especially Microsoft Office) but with a different cause: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303677 

Additional advice: Please see comments below!

If everything suggested didn’t work, search Google or Apple discussions.

*Please note: You take full responsibility for your actions on your computer. I can never be held responsible for any damages caused by my tutorials. Errors excepted!
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13 Responses to “HowTo: Get PowerPC apps working again (on Intel mac)”


  1. 1 Holger May 17, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    I have the same problem, all PPC apps crash at launch.
    Was glad to find this post, but the replacement with the older ‘translate’ version from install DVD (Former: Feb 6 2008 -> Now: Nov 6 2007) unfortunately didn’t fix anything. Programs still crash right after launching.
    Have still no clue how to fix it, very anoying. – Any other idea?

  2. 2 herbstblatt May 17, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Holger

    This is very strange since I was also trying out several solutions and finally this one turned out to be useful.
    I can only imagine that something went wrong while exchanging since the original file on the DVD must have worked at some time in the past.
    Since I do not know all the details behind the Rosetta application I can only give you some suggestions:

    1. Did you repair permissions using Disk utility before exchanging the file? (Maybe you might want to verify your startup disk for any damages as well)

    2. Also, did you restart your computer before and after applying this solution?

    3. If you open up Activity monitor, do you see any suspect process running (like “translated” or something colored red?

    Maybe these questions are too stupid for you but I have also done all these things before proceeding.

    Good luck and keep asking back. I had the same problems and I know how annoying it is.

    Herzlicher Gruss aus der Schweiz

    herbstblatt

  3. 3 John Elford June 24, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    I had exactly the same problem (Excel and Word suddenly decided not to open at all, and the error log mentioned Terminal). Neither replacing Terminal nor the Apple fix mentioned above worked.

    However . . . in mild desperation I downloaded the latest update (10.1.9), and this has fixed it.

    So this is at least worth trying. Good luck.

  4. 4 John Elford June 24, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Sorry – in above post I should have said ‘Translate’, not ‘Terminal’.

  5. 5 herbstblatt June 25, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Hey John

    Glad you could solve the problem – thanks for sharing!
    It’s strange that the method described above only worked for me so far according to the comments. The solution above certainly did it for me.
    But nonetheless, I hope I could reach some people who were able to fix it with my method as I know how annoying it is.

    herbstblatt

  6. 6 Dave Corbett July 11, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

    Thank you for finding a fix to this problem…………
    This worked first go.

    Dave Corbet
    Sydney, Australia.

  7. 7 herbstblatt July 13, 2008 at 12:55 am

    @Dave: Cool it worked for you! Greetings to “Down under” :-)

  8. 8 hendsch October 25, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Great! You prevented me fom reinstalling the whole system!
    THANK YOU!!!

  9. 9 saffi November 7, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    The only thing that solved for me is the suggestion i read: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=8187283&

    which is installing a 600M update from apple.

    http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/macosx1055comboupdate.html

    so that is my recommendation, download the apple update and install it to solve the translate ppc problem of the Intel leopard.

  10. 10 Joey November 26, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    I’m struggling with removing the proper files off my Leopard Install/Restore DVD. Is there a way to download the proper (undamaged) Rosetta files off the Apple website, or could someone send me the “oah” folder, that houses the “fixed” Rosetta files? Thanks.

  11. 11 herbstblatt November 30, 2008 at 1:00 am

    Hey Joey

    I’m sure that there’s no way to download these files off of Apple’s website for free. And, actually I can’t send or publish them as that would represent a copyright infringement… :-(

    Where exactly are you struggling with the procedure? There must be a solution!

    Best wishes,

    herbstblatt

  12. 12 Joey December 4, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Nevermind, I got it working. The problem was I was trying to do it my own way, using Pacifist. When I used your exact method, it worked perfectly. So, yeah. It was my fault. Thanks for the help though.

  13. 13 herbstblatt December 4, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    @Joey: Congrats, I’m happy for you!

    Bye,

    herbstblatt


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