Use GuideGuide with Apple Silicon

By default, Macs with Apple Silicon cannot run GuideGuide 4 and 5. However, it is still possible to use these extensions! The secret is that you have to run Photoshop via Rosetta.

If you are using an Intel Mac or a version of GuideGuide after GuideGuide 5, this guide does not apply to you.

How to run Photoshop with Rosetta

First, determine if you are using Apple Silicon.

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left toolbar.
  2. Click the About this Mac menu item.
  3. In the window that opens, look for the Chip item. It should have a chip with an M in it, like “Apple M1”. If you see “Intel”, this guide does not apply to you.

Next, run Photoshop with Rosetta.

  1. Navigate to Photoshop in Finder. It’s probably in /Application/Adobe Photoshop <year>.
  2. Inside the Adobe Photoshop <year> folder you should see another icon called Adobe Photoshop <year>. That’s Photoshop. Right click on it. Choose “Get Info”.
  3. In the “General” section, ensure there is a checkmark next to “Open in Rosetta”.
  4. Close the info window, then launch Photoshop.
  5. In the menu bar, navigate to Photoshop > Preferences > Plugins…
  6. In the “Legacy Extensions” section, ensure that “Load Extensions Panels” is checked. If it is not, you will need to restart Photoshop when you are done.
  7. Click “Ok” to close the window.
  8. Find GuideGuide in the menubar at Window > Extensions (legacy) > GuideGuide

What does this mean?

Apple Silicon is the type of chip architecture that modern Macs use. Previously, they used Intel based chips. Both are different and software developers have to release software that supports them both.

Adobe has two extension platforms: CEP and UXP. CEP has been around for many years. Early versions of GuideGuide and many other extensions were built using CEP. UXP is the new extension platform. When Adobe updated Photoshop to support Apple Silicon, they only moved the UXP platform over, meaning that any extension built on CEP won’t work.

I don’t know exactly how things are built, but my assumption is that Photoshop actually supports both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs depending on the mode they are in. CEP is probably an Intel-specific feature, so by forcing Photoshop to run in the Intel mode, it reenables CEP support.

Are there side effects?

GuideGuide and Photoshop will work exactly as expected. However, Photoshop is quite slow when run in Rosetta. You may not notice the difference, but Apple Silicon gives it way more power.

The latest versions of GuideGuide support Apple Silicon, so the best option is to download the latest version if you want to take advantage of the performance boost that Apple Silicon provides. Please keep in mind, if you are using GuideGuide 4, the jump to the new versions is a paid upgrade.