If you're lucky enough to be using a new M1 Mac, or considering buying one, you'll be wondering if the apps you need to use will work on it - especially since Intel publicly criticised the range of software that's compatible with the M1 processor.

In this article we'll run through all the apps that are ready for the M1 chip - which, as of mid January 2021, now includes VLC.

Where the developer has released a M1-ready beta version we will mention that too, such as the beta version of Microsoft's Edge browser.

Other apps are confirmed to be running via Rosetta 2 - Apple's tool for translating code intended for Intel processors so that the M1 chip understands it.

Rosetta 2 should mean that most existing Mac apps will run on the new M1 Macs, although they may take a few minutes to start up the first time you run them on the new machine as Rosetta will translate the code so that they can run. Running via Rosetta may also cause some lag - although hopefully it won't be noticeable.

We say most because notably you won't be able to run Windows. This is because there isn't an ARM version of Windows at the moment, although there is a way to run Windows apps on an M1 Mac. More on that here: Will Windows run on Apple Silicon M1 Macs?

Luckily there are some apps that are already running natively on the M1 Macs. As you would expect Apple has converted all its apps to run on M1, but other companies are also working on updates to their apps. We'll run through what's arrived so far below.

Google Chrome

Google has shipped a version of Chrome with M1 support. However, some aspects of the browser still uses Rosetta 2.

If you are on a M1 Mac you will see an option to download for a Mac with Apple Chip.

The first build that shipped apparently caused the new Macs to crash though, so a new version appeared on 18 November.

Crossover 20

The update to Crossover - Crossover 20 - makes it possible to run Windows software on the M1 Mac. The update requires the beta of macOS 11.1 Big Sur, as this comes with numerous bug fixes for Rosetta 2 - Crossover 20 requires the Rosette technology to run on the M1 Macs.

CrossOver allows users to install Windows apps without requiring the installation of Windows itself. This is a breakthrough because the ARM-based Macs cannot run Windows (at least not until there is an ARM version of Windows).

For more about Running Windows on M1 Macs read: Will Windows run on Apple M1?

Microsoft Edge (beta)

The beta version of the Edge browser (based on Chromium) has been optimised for the M1 Macs.

This version of Edge is currently in beta, so users may encounter some bugs. Regardless, the optimised version of the Microsoft browser promises better performance and fewer errors than could occur if Edge runs via Rosetta 2. It is currently unknown when the full version will be released.

Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Brave are all optimised for M1 Macs (as discussed below).

Adobe Lightroom

On Tuesday 8 December Adobe released a new version of its image management software Lightroom.

Adobe Lightroom 4.1 has now been adapted for Apple's M1 chip, which means significantly better performance on the new M1 versions of the Mac mini, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

The update also adds support for more cameras and lenses, in addition to the usual bug fixes. For more detailed information, visit the Adobe blog.

The system requirement for Adobe Lightroom 4.1 is macOS 10.14 or later. As usual, the application can be downloaded from the Mac App Store.

Adobe Photoshop

It's not yet in final version but Adobe has released a beta version of Photoshop for Apple's M1 Macs. It will also work on the ARM-based Surface Pro X.

Beta testers will find that a lot of tools are missing in this first beta version, so expect it to take a while before all features are available. However, Apple gave us a very impressive demo of Photoshop running on an M1 MacBook Air so we have every high hopes for the final version. Join the Photoshop beta here.

We don't now when Adobe's other programs will be adapted for the M1 and ARM based computers. The company did suggest that an update to Lightroom will come in the new year.

You can still use the regular version of Photoshop on an M1 Mac via Rosetta 2.

You can get Photoshop from Adobe's website.

Firefox

Firefox had offered preliminary support for M1 in the Firefox 84 Beta. As of 15 December the public version of Firefox has been updated to support the M1 natively.

Microsoft Office

The Office apps - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook are now ready for the M1 processor.

As of 15 December Microsoft has made the Office suite of apps for Macs universal - which means they will run natively on M1 and Intel Macs.

Microsoft had already announced that the apps were able to use Rosetta 2 in order to run on the new Macs, but that meant there was a lag of about 20 seconds while they start up.

We have an Office for Mac buying guide.

You can get Microsoft Office from Microsoft's website.

Pixelmator Pro

Image editing program Pixelmator Pro version 2.0 supports Apple's new M1 processor, which means higher performance on the new models of Mac mini, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

The update also brings a refreshed interface that, among other things, makes it easier to find the effect you want. Users will also be able to adapt the look to their own needs.

The system requirement for Pixelmator Pro is macOS 10.14.4 or later. The price tag is £38.99 from the Mac App Store.

Twitter

Twitter updated its Mac app in November so it's now compatible with the M1 chip. The app design has also been updated.

Download it from the Mac App Store.

VLC

A new version of the popular video playback program VLC has been released. VLC 3.0.12 is optimised for Apple Silicon.

It has full support for the ARM64 architecture in Apple's new Macs.

Most developers who add full support for Apple Silicon and the new M1 Macs do so by embedding it in the existing program, a so-called universal binary. However, there VLC 3.0.12 has two separate versions: One for Intel Macs and one for Apple Silicon Macs.

Why VLC has chosen to do so is not clear, it may be to do with components that have not been updated yet.

To get the optimised version on an M1 Mac, you must first install the update to 3.0.12 and then check for updates again. This way you can download version 3.0.12.1, which has only ARM64 code.

Other news is a slightly updated interface to fit in Big Sur, improvements in Blu-ray and WMV as well as various bug fixes. On Windows, crashes when using Direct3D filters have been fixed.

World of Warcraft

Blizzard is the first gaming company to release a title optimised for the new Mac models.

Blizzard has adapted World of Warcraft for the new M1 processor, which means that it is already possible to play the game with full performance. All users need to do is update to version 9.0.2.

Blizzard has a long tradition of optimising its games for macOS, so hopefully it's only a matter of time before the company's other games are adapted for the new M1 processor.

Games that have not been optimised will hopefully work decently with the help of the emulation tool Rosetta 2. Exactly how it is with the compatibility for individual games remains to be seen.

We can probably count on the games in Apple Arcade already being optimised, so if you want games that are guaranteed to work with the new Mac models, it might be worth checking out that service.

Other apps and tools optimised for M1

There are lots of other apps that have been optimised for the M1 chip. You can check this website to see if the app you use is listed.

  • 1Password from 1Password
  • Alfred from Crayons Ltd
  • Affinity Designer from Serif
  • Audio Hyjack and other apps from Rogue Amoeba
  • djay from algoridddim GmbH
  • Cinema 4D from Maxon
  • DaVinci Resolve from Blackmagic
  • Fantastical from flexibits
  • Geekbench 5 from primatelabs
  • Groove and other apps from apogeedigital
  • NTFS for Mac from Paragon Software
  • OmniGraffle and other apps from OmniGroup
  • Python
  • PDF Expert and other apps from Readdle
  • PDFelement and other apps from Wondershare
  • Pixelmator from Pixelmator Team
  • Quicken from Quicken Inc
  • Scrapple  from Literature & Latte
  • Scrivener from Literature and Latte
  • TeamViewer from TeamViewer
  • Transmit and other apps from Panic
  • Tweetbot from Tapbots

Apple's apps

Apple's own apps including Safari, Pages, Numbers and Keynote, iMovie and GarageBand, as well as Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro have all been updated for the M1.

iPhone and iPad apps

Because they use the same family of processors as the iPhone and iPad the M1 Macs will be able to run iOS and iPadOS apps - as long as the developer agrees to port them over (some apps won't be suited to the Mac, for example a game that uses the accelerometer or where there is a suitable Mac version already). There are already a number of iOS apps available on the Mac App Store.

Early on it was possible to install iOS apps that were not visible on the Mac App Store on Macs, however Apple has since removed the ability to 'sideload' iOS apps on M1 Macs.

If you're looking for more information, you can read about how fast the M1 chip is. For more advice on whether to buy an M1 Mac, read Should I buy an M1 MacBook or Mac? 

As for what you can't run on an M1 Mac, sadly it isn't possible to run older versions of macOS on M1 Macs and you can't currently run Windows on an M1 Mac either.