posted by Adam S on Tue 7th Mar 2006 23:29 UTC
IconI recently set up my new Macbook, and I was upset to see that my Windows Media video files no longer worked. The Flip4Mac player that Microsoft endorsed after they officially killed Mac Windows Media Player doesn't install or run on Intel Macs, but it can be easily circumvented with a little tinkering. Read on for details.

All Intel Mac systems include a program called Rosetta whose sole purpose is to emulate the PowerPC for non-intel native/universal applications. If you launch a non-native application, in theory, Rosetta kicks into action and dynamically translates to application to work in near-realtime. Although Rosetta is transparent, it's not invisible, and that's the trick. Apple has generously built into the Finder the ability to use Rosetta at will.

Here's the essence of this "non-hack." First, you'll need to proceed to flip4mac.com and download their latest release. Note that it is NOT a Universal application. It is packaged as a Disk Image (dmg) file, like most Mac applications, and contains a mpkg file, which is an installation package. Unlike most Mac bundled apps, which install with a simple drag and drop, the installer must be launched. Launching the mpkg will return a failure everytime.

Now that you've downloaded the file, mount the disk image and navigation to /Appications/Utilities. Find the application called "Installer," and either right-click or Apple+click to get the context menu. Select "Get Info." Beneath the color labels you'll notice a checkbox that reads "Open Using Rosetta." Check it.

Navigate back to the Flip4Mac disk image and run the installer. It will launch just fine. Install Flip4Mac. Close the installer. At this point, you should go back and change the "Installer" application so that it no longer runs using Rosetta.

Next, navigate to /Applications and choose "Quicktime." Now repeat the Rosetta emulation procedure to this application. Quicktime runs nicely in Rosetta for the most part, although there is clearly a delay for me on launch. Since it's so easy to toggle between emulation and native mode, it should be easy to change to Rosetta when needed.

I have had no problems using WMV files on the Macbook since employing this method. Although untested (and I should probably add unencouraged), this method likely works for other packages, plugins, and applications, but of course, use at yor own risk.

Got any other tips for maximizing and optimizing your Intel Mac? Share them in the comments!

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