VueScan + Apple Silicon: What does this mean for you?

David Hamrick

We are proud to announce that VueScan supports Apple Silicon and macOS Big Sur. We have been excited ever since Apple announced that they would be creating Apple Silicon, and the Apple M1 chip is even better than we expected. Apple promises higher performance and better battery life with the new chip and they say that performance on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is 2.8 times as fast.

The team at Hamrick Software has been hard at work getting everything ready for Apple Silicon. It all starts with us having created our own scanner drivers and including them in VueScan. This allows us to control the code ourselves and not rely as heavily on plugins/3rd party software that either hasn’t been updated or isn’t ready for Apple Silicon.

Apple has released an impressive compatability layer called Rosetta 2 that should help make existing software work, but it remains to be seen how much other scanner software will be affected.

As our customers know, a key objective of ours is to not only provide support for all operating systems, but also for software quality and ensuring the best customer experience. We have been testing Apple Silicon and VueScan now fully supports it.

macOS Big Sur – the next operating system

We were ready for macOS Catalina and we are ready for macOS Big Sur (11.0) – released on 12th November 2020. This is the first macOS to support the new M1 chip (but note that Big Sur still supports Intel-based chips as well.)

Although it is already working, we will continue to carry out extensive evaluations of VueScan on this new chip and on all new operating systems.

If you want to get all the latest news about VueScan, like VueScan’s support for Mac with Apple M1 chip, sign up to our monthly newsletter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to change anything in VueScan for Apple Silicon or macOS Big Sur?

You don’t need to change anything, but if you want to use VueScan on Apple Silicon we recommend using the Universal version of VueScan. The Universal version contains executables for both Apple Silicon and Intel processors, so you can use it on either type of machine. VueScan version 9.7.37 is the first version of VueScan that we are releasing as a Universal version.

How do I download the Universal version of VueScan?

If you running Catalina or Big Sur, the download button on our home page will automatically download the Universal version. Otherwise, you can download it on our alternate versions page.

Do I need to buy a new license to use VueScan with Apple Silicon

If you have the Professional Edition of VueScan, you are entitled to free updates for life, and so can download the latest Universal verison of VueScan for free.

If you have the Standard Edition of VueScan, you are entitled to free updates for 1 year. So if you purchased your license after November 8, 2019, you can update to the Universal version of VueScan for free.

If you would like to use the Universal version, you can either purchase a new Standard Edition license or if you have already purchased a Standard Edition license you can upgrade to the Professional Edition.

Will VueScan be faster with Apple Silicon?

Yes! Apple is reporting a 2.8x speedup from their previous generation of laptops. While the speed of the scanner is still the primary determinant of how fast you can scan, all of the image processing will happen much faster as a result of using Apple Silicon.

You’ll especially notice this speedup when doing OCR, scanning searchable PDF files and scanning film with infrared cleaning. You’ll also experience faster responsiveness.

Is it better to wait for Macs with Apple Silicon or buy Intel-based Macs while I can?

There are two schools of thought here. Some recommend buying the first models that appear after a major chip change because Macs with the previous chips may have a shorter effective lifespan once the transition is complete. Others prefer to buy the last models with the earlier chips under the assumption that the first new Macs might have unanticipated problems.

For the longest lifespan, wait for new Macs with Apple silicon. But if you’re worried that the first models out will have teething pains, invest in the last Intel-based Macs.

How long will Apple keep selling Intel-based Macs?

The company said that it anticipates releasing new Intel-based Macs for roughly 2 years and that it has some exciting new models in the pipeline.

How long will Apple continue to support Intel-based Macs?

Apple didn’t commit to a specific length of time but said it would be releasing new software and supporting Intel-based Macs “for years to come.” In the previous processor transition from PowerPC to Intel, Apple maintained the Rosetta translation environment for over 5 years.

In other words, if you buy an Intel-based Mac today, it should have an effective lifespan of at least 3–5 years. Businesses often refresh their Macs on such a cycle, so that’s not unreasonable.