Using Your Power PC (PPC) Mac in an Intel World

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Are you a Mac OSX user that is still using an outdated, but admirably well functioning, Power PC (PPC) G4 or G5 desktop or laptop computer, even as it is becoming a relic that will one day be a corpse in computer wasteland? These machines are being left in the Intel dust storm left behind from when Apple switched from IBM processors to Intel. Now Mac PPCs are quickly winding up in storage units, E-bay and pawn shops. Hell, maybe that's where you got the one you're using! But you don't have the money to upgrade to a costly new Intel-powered Mac and you'd rather not get a used one on Craigslit. Plus, the computer runs great! No matter the reason, if you are still using one of these machines, such as the Power Mac G5 (predecessor to the Mac Pro), you are probably just getting by as a Mac PPC user, but don't worry. There are still a few workarounds to get you by in the meantime while you save up moola for that new Mac you will someday need.
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It's an Intel World

Apple, along with software developers that release applications for its system architecture, rarely support the PPC architecture nowadays, so you've probably struggled with getting an updated web browser and other key applications. It is especially true for users in the creative profession. Other applications that require plugins for online use, such as Google Voice, also do not support PPC Macs.


Archived Software

Many of these programs however, are available as archived versions (older versions that are PPC-compatible) free to download from sites like Mozilla's own Index of Firefox Releases or Old Apps for versions of Mozilla Firefox. You will want to download the most recent version that your system will allow, which would likely be 3.6.23. Always try to get the most recent and/or stable versions for PPC. Other sites include OldVersion, Old-Version, Ultimate Mac Software Archives, MacUpdate and Pure Mac. There are others. Use a search engine to find archived versions of software. Use search terms such as "archived versions of mozilla firefox for ppc mac" or the like.

Other Software Solutions

If you are a user of Google Voice and you have found that it does not work if you want to make calls with your PPC Mac computer because the Google Voice plug-in download requires Intel processors to work, there is still a bit of good news. You can download a handy application called VoiceMac. This application has all the rich features of Google Voice/Google Talk in a sleek software application. You can even set up multiple accounts.

There are other types of software that you can't even get for PPC whatsoever, such as the Google Chrome browser. There is a PPC compatible alternative out there called Stainless. It runs fairly well. You must download it, for instance, if you're trying to access Google Drive, another application that cannot be installed on PPC Macs (you can, however, download Dropbox) and other applications/sites that are Chrome optimized.

There is a variety of software for PPC multimedia tasks such as Prism, a great video/audio converter, and VLC, a streaming media LAN application (alternative to Quicktime Player) and many others. Many popular tech sites host downloads of such software.

If all else fails, search for open source solutions. A developer community that is already there to solve the very problem you are having with finding software is often times an Internet search away with open source software solutions. NeoOffice and Open Office are examples of open source office software applications for PPC Macs. Also try freeware and shareware sources for software.


Hardware is a bit of a challenge, but you can find a lot of things online these days. There are products available that are still compatible with PPC Macs on sites like Tiger Direct, Other World Computing and Used Mac to name a few.

Of course, you might get lucky and stumble into a garage sale or a used computer store peddling PPC compatible Mac gear, such as the PYRO Firewire webcam (works great with iSight and iMovie).

Other Resources

There is a helpful support community online from a variety of trusted and dedicated Apple experts, but they are not Apple nor the major software retailers. Many of them are die hard Mac fanatics and many of them are programmers, developers and other techies. This list of sites is just an example of the many there are:

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