10 Things We Miss From OS 9

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10 Things We Miss From OS 9

 

For millions of post-iPod Mac users, OS X is the alpha and omega of the Apple desktop. Unlike Microsoft --- which has basically kept the same arrangement and appearance for its task bar and icons despite updating the overall feel of Windows over the last decade or so --- Apple took its OS in a completely new direction back in 2001 and has never looked back, integrating a new processor architecture and building a revolutionary mobile platform around its sleek engine and slick curves.

 

Since replacing OS 9 as the default on all new Macs, OS X has seen four major revisions and a slew of revolutionary features that have put some serious distance between the two environments. But those of us who remember OS 9.2 will recall with varying degrees of fondness the last serious update to Classic, which added some 50 new features to OS 8.6 to create what Steve Jobs hailed as “the best Internet operating system ever.”

 

And while the OS X experience is vastly superior to its predecessor, there are still a few nostalgic elements that we longtime Mac fans will always have a soft spot for:

 

 

Whoosh, and the window is gone

 

WindowShade
By the time OS 9 rolled around, System 7.5’s standalone WindowShade control panel was incorporated into the Appearance Manager as an option to “collapse windows,” but double-clicking the title bar still offered the same clutter-removal goodness. Apple’s OS X solution is to stylishly minimize open windows to the Dock, but hardcore OS 9 devotees have undoubtedly downloaded WindowShade X instead.

 

 

He's all smiles now...

 

Happy Mac
In Mac OS 9, Apple updated its monochrome startup icon with a fresh set of paint that was worthy of OS X’s bright, cheerful GUI. Initially, Happy Mac looked like it would make the Aqua transition without missing a beat, but Apple inexplicably killed the iconic character in favor of a simple, gray Apple logo, beginning with Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar. We all understand the need for brand recognition, but there’s nothing like a smiling face to start your day off right.

 

 

Better than Stacks?

 

Desktop Tabs
With the development of OS X, Apple abandoned the Control Strip and placed all of its eggs in a Task bar-ish basket for apps, folders, documents and the Trash. While the Dock can be useful --- especially with the introduction of Stacks in Leopard --- it lacks the charm of OS 9’s organization tools and tricks. Classic power users remember dragging windows to the bottom of the desktop to create neat little tabs that hid pop-up windows for quick access to often-used folders.

 

 

 

VoicePrint

Back before Fast User Switching turned the Mac login screen into thing of beauty, gaining access to the desktop consisted of typing passwords into standard, sterile boxes. But there was still one feature that set Apple apart from the pack: Like a sort of vocal fingerprint, OS 9 allowed users to record an alternate password in the form of a spoken phrase that was uttered at the login screen. Setting up the voiceprint phrase was all very cloak-and-dagger, as the system studied your voice, and matched pitches and pauses in a series of four recordings. Once a proper sample was stored, users could speak that phrase at the login screen to gain access to their desktop without hitting a key. While we love OS X’s cube effect, we’d love it even more if it responded to our calls of “Moof!”

 

 

Mono Blue, the kissing disease theme

 

Themes
Until Leopard finally streamlined things, Apple struggled to keep its apps uniform in OS X. Each major revision brought new features and overhauls, which eventually created a mishmash of brushed metal, subtle stripes and smooth gray that could only be changed by installing third-party hackies. In OS 9, however, Apple offered complete control over the appearance of the desktop via a handful of themes that could be applied quickly and easily through the Appearance control panel. Ranging from simple color changes to psychedelic makeovers, Apple let users create a desktop that reflected uniqueness and individuality, but unfortunately ditched the idea once OS X came along. Of course, we all like Leopard’s streamlined GUI, but some of us wouldn’t mind tweaking the blue bars we’ve been staring at for seven years.

 

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BobBarker

Other readers were missing the Apple Menu. Again, my take is the Dock rocks! But you can get it with http://www.unsanity.com/haxies/fruitmenuAND for better Finder labels check out: http://www.unsanity.com/haxies/labels but THIS DOES NOT work under Leopard.

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BobBarker

Windowshade you already got coveredWant a happy Mac? Get http://namedfork.net/bootxchanger/"Tabbed folders" as I believe they were called. Is not setting a stack to display as a list the same thing??Appearance themes: there is Shapeshifter http://www.unsanity.com/haxies/shapeshifter/?referer=interfacelift.com BUT it does not work with Leopard. Here is one of several resources for them files: http://interfacelift.com/themes-mac/And yeah I certainly miss Clarus the dogcow... but not those bombs, man!

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Th666

mac was sophisticated back then....no body understand the OS,
it was just like having a kick ass OS nobody owns.....
but deep down I'm glad Steve did retake his position, and infact
make it better and better!

Bubye OS9......you handsome guy you! pinch!

TH

Indonesia

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rickv152

I am currently typing this out using OS 9.2.2 running Mozilla (modified
version 1.3.1 wamcom-macos9-20030721-fix) which actually will
display/do "most" things any OS 10 browser will do; Yes, IE anything
was a disaster on internet with OS 9. I've used a Mac since the 1st
128k (not Lisa) in '84'. That aside, I do miss some of the super cool
features OS 8-9 had that are gone forever, it seems; like windowshade.
Just installed OS 10 version; hated the minimize windows feature of OS
10.. very inefficient. ++Still looking for 3rd party add-on for
Desktop Tabs; that was very handy. Anyone know of one, pleeeese?
++Also one last thing that you missed mentioning, was being able to "add
in" an alias into the Apple menu. I really miss and use that in OS 9
but see no 3rd party for OS 10. Pleeeese help!! Frankly, I realize and
appreciate the fact that OS 10 is FAR superior to any OS Apple made
prior; wonderful not to have frequent freezes that OS 9 and on down
had. I remote control an FM radio station's servers playing music, etc.
I can't afford "not" to run OS 10 for reliability reasons alone. It
just "works". I still run OS 9.2.2 on my Wallstreet which "zips" past
or keeps up with most RAM max'd out, 1.25 GHz. MacMini's running 10.5;
Wallstreet has a Sonnet 500MHz CPU with 500 RAM; added USB 1 card (ok,
that's painfully slow) and a Linksys wireless card. I have both OS's
here at work (we're a local ISP running ALL Mac servers in 2 centers in
2 counties). I'm now typing this on an old G3 beige 333MHz tower
running OS 9.2.2. It sits next to 2 Mac Minis running 10.5, all on a T1
network; some tasks the G3 simply beats out the Minis on, especially
internet ones; we haven't figured out why yet... probably the minis as
our other new Macs zip on by this G3. thanks

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roystonlodge

That was a fun little utility. I had my Mac Classic set up so that HAL 9000 spoke the words "I am completely operational and all my circuits are functioning perfectly" every time you booted up the computer. My buddy used it to really freak out his little sister by having it say "this disk will self-destruct in five seconds" when she shut the computer down. She started to cry because she thought she'd broken the computer. Good times...

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jimn

oops wrong thread

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rdk77

Can anyone let me have a copy of Mac 9.2 in English, please? My French son in law has kindly provided for free a Clamshell laptop for a friend who is paralysed down one side. Unfortunately, the OS is in French and my friend does not speak a word. I have tried to change language, re-install and new install with the original French CD's, but to no avail. RDK

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orborborb

things i miss about os9

-mouse acceleration curve was perfect, no version of windows, mac os x, or even third party software has been able to duplicate it as far as i have found
-a single system folder contained all the system files, was organized coherently, and could be simply copied
-single-user usage took priority over multi-user permissions
-empty trash warning told you how much data was in the trash
-if some files already existed at the destination of a copy you could choose to ignore them and just copy the other files
-windows stayed where they were put and never changed style or shape without you asking them to
-icons stayed where they were put
-you could tell whether a folder, file, or application was open by looking at the icon
-overall look of gui was more consistent
-an icon and its label made up a single graphic element, now they have two separate rounded rectangle selection areas which don't look like they belong together at all
-list view expansion triangles elegantly matched the folder icons in style, they looked like they belonged together
-platinum sound effects were a work of art
-the scrapbook (why it isn't a dashboard widget yet I don't know)
-windowshade (though I don't miss is nearly as much as many people it seems)
-print window
-hard disk could be repaired without needing an optical disc or second system installation

things i would miss about osx if i switched back to os9
(not including of course all my favorite osx-only apps that have come out in the last 5+ years!)

-expose
-drag and drop into open/save dialog boxes
-protected memory
-proper virtual memory
-proper multitasking
-application packages
-live window dragging and resizing
-unsaved document dot
-activity monitor
-spotlight

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ms.smittyb

There was a feature in the last version of OS9 that allowed you to drag and drop two folders and sync their contents. (It was in the Control Panels, of all places ?)

Invaluable and I've seen no replacement without shelling out $$.

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roystonlodge

Launcher was great, and MUCH more convenient than the much-heralded Dock.

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MacGeorgeHB

It was very efficient, since anything, doc or app or volume, could find a home in one of the Launcher's buttons. AppSwitcher was a great improvement for getting from one app to another, but nothing else since has done the job of Launcher, even though it did hog desktop space.Anyone ready to code a new Launcher app? 

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roystonlodge

WAY BACK in the stone age, every new Macintosh came with a nice interactive tutorial program to teach the user the very basic basics of using a computer. I think they were written in Hypercard, and some were admittedly better than others. But they were all way better than the PDF files and quicktime videos that Apple seems to think can do the same job. Sorry, they can't. A quicktime video tutorial makes the assumption that the user knows how to use a mouse well enough to open a quicktime video. The "Mouse Basics" tutorial taught users who had NEVER used a computer before how to use a mouse. How to click. How to double-click. How to drag. Sounds simple enough, until your 70-year-old father buys a brand-new iMac because the ads claim it's "easy-to-use", and he needs you to teach him how to use a mouse.

Some of my favourites were: Mouse Basics. Macintosh Basics. Getting Started on your Mac SE/30.

Some of them are available in the free download section of Apple's support website, but they won't run in OSX. I keep saying that, one of these days, I'm gonna convert them all to Flash or Java or SOMETHING. Oh well...

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supayne

There was a wonderful Classic program called "Murphy" based on Murphy's Law humor. Each time you booted up your Mac the startup screen would post one of many witty comments!! Along with the Mission Impossible voice saying "Good Morning, Ms. Payne............"should you choose to DO IT"........... It was a great way to start the day!! I MISS THAT!!

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fotmasta

Stuff in the trash could be "put back" to where it was.

So, if say you deleted a bunch of extensions, you could undelete them and they'd shoot right back to where they were before you trashed them.

A great feature for those of us for which deleting files is pure ecstasy.

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photogirl333

Open Apple / CLOSED Apple... Ahhh, the good old days ;)

____________________________

Photographer / Graphic Designer / Mac Lover

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Darksidehearts

Man I miss the ability to speak your password, I'd have it set on my Desktop [iMac DV Edition (Charcoal)] and Laptop #1 [Powerbook 1400c/166] so I could not only log in but I set them both up to have me just speak the app name or file to open. Literally making my comps ran hands free so to speak. I have heard that there is software you can buy to regain this ability but it's like $200+ depending on if you want the mic or not. however it doesn't run the same as the old one does. Luckily I still have Os 9 on my iMac and 1st Laptop. I only wish I could have Os9 on my Macbook. I have a lot of software I cannot use on it, I don't mind it because I love my laptop but I'd prefer to have it "complete" you know? I mean I remember they cam out with Classic feature when the OsX first came out, but personally I would love it if you could install Os9 on the newer comps. I mean my iMac started out the same running under the Os9 and then I upgraded it to OsX Right now I have it at 10.4.11, if I upgrade the processor I can get it to run Leopard. Although there are a few things on Leopard I don't like and features I have lost like the ability to use line in headsets. However I did install software to fix that but the fact remains that it was an issue.

I really miss the "About this computer" feature, it told you all the app's you had open and what's taking memory on your computer. I know there is a "Activity Monitor" but it's not always convienient to have to go through to the utilities folder and get it, yes you can put it in the dock but it's not the same as going to the apple menu and accessing it with one to two clicks. 

I too missed the smiley face welcoming you into your computer through the log in. It was fun to have it, I have replaced the wallpaper in the log in window with the old fashion smiley BG but it's not the same if the log in window itself is cut, dry and sterile. Well anyway I suppose I can't complain too much as I have 2 that still run the Os9 system but it would be nice to have some support for the newer ones. I mean I know they said the technology in the newer laptops cannot run Os9 but isn't there a way to make it work? I mean some kind of drivers or partition on the HD for the Os9? I mean with all the tech we have today is it not right to say possibilities are endless. I'm not saying Apple needs to update and support Os9 anymore if that's the issue but at least bring it into the new age a bit, as many people would love to use it.

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GabeSanchez

100th comment!!!

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Anonymous

i didnt quite understood what you said about it, Leopard still has the stickies the same as os9, being in either form, dashboard or finder window

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Larry

Emailed the ff to Apple 12/13/2007. No response, of course....

Why not allow the user (me) to change the appearance of icons on the Dock? Why should I have to remember which blue folder is which? I used colorful letters in the 10.4.11 Dock; not allowed in Leopard. Even the house icon of my Home folder becomes just a blue folder in Leopard's Dock.

Why not allow me to make an Alias of any folder? I can customize Alias icons, so can put an easily identifiable Alias icon in the Dock. Leopard doesn't permit making an Alias for Home, for example.

Why prevent FindFile from finding all files? Won't find Previous Systems or Any System folders. What others won't it find?

Why eliminate Attach Info in iCal? New arrangement requires an extra click or two to change an item. Also have to drag the pop-up window off to the side to keep other iCal items visible during the process.

ICal edit entry window shows max of 4 lines. To see entire entry without scrolling need to view uneditable entry on a calendar or use 'edit' then 'note'.

I realize these are not major items. No doubt I'll get used to them, but what purpose is served by taking features away? At least refer me to a list of these takeaways so I'll know my installation went OK. That way I won't waste my time and AppleCare's time when I run across more takeaways.

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raindogg

Are you kidding? Stickies is in your Application folder and it works the same as OS9.

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David Steiner

One of the best things about my first Mac in 1974 was its ability to talk to me. I imported sounds for just about everything it did and its alert sound was "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that" from 2001. I really miss the ability to import system sounds.

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Anonymous

Sorry David, but the first Macs didn't come out until 1984.

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Matt Mattox

I miss the OS 9 version of "Recent Items." It was much more efficient and made more sense. The current version just doesn't work as well as I remember the old one. The old one was based on true aliases and the list could be used to find the actual document, not just open it.

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Venitar

The thing I miss the most is Kaleidoscope!! I loved being able to change the look of my desktop whenever. I also liked having my Mac greet me when it started up, with messages such as "Welcome to the world of Mac." Where are those guys? Can't they do the same thing for OSX.xxx? Let's not lose the fun and the options for individuality that used to be part of having a Mac.

Venitar

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fab4bear

Dear Sir or Madam,

Having been a MAC lover since 1995, I remember OS 7. I read your article on what we miss from OS 9 with a bit of nostalgia. I was glad to see you include "Print Window" in your list. I am stumped about your comments on Stickies? I have always had a finder Stickies Ap in OSX. I do believe I've read about a Dashboard equivalent as well. So, I am missing your point?

One of the best things I miss from older OS is the full status report in a copy dialogue box which includes the name(s) of the files being copied.

Going forward does not necessarily mean dumping everything. (I am aware I am grossly overstating.)

I love your Mag!

Thanks!
Jim Myers

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Terre Spencer

Oh, how I wish I could use WindowShade X!! Unsanity's WindowShadeX devoured half my applications (actually I think it was the evil APE that created all the problems, but WS X does not work without APE) and I have tried re-installing every time a new OS or WS/APE version is introduced. I have begged Unsanity to fix these wacky bugs; but as of yet they have not answered even one email in over two years.

Apple, can you hear me? I want WindowShade back in the OS!!!!

My workaround? I bought a second monitor. I work (graphics coordinator) with the dock hidden and the Genie effect is more like a complete disappearing act. So for now, until Apple brings back WS, I drag windows off to a second monitor (both at home and at the office).

Ah, sweet nostalgia. . .

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Anonymous

I believe it was in OS 9, maybe even before, where when doing a calculation the tape would write DOWNWARDS as a typical calculator would do (or am I dating myself?). It's so hard to read your calculations horizontally. Wish that Apple would bring that back.

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Matt T

The ability to have Quicktime movies appear on startup was a cool, yet frivolous thing for me. The thing about Mac OS 9 is that it had so many more Easter eggs than OS X, which has clean itself free from them as far as I can tell.

That and themes. I don't know if I'm the only one who misses the Aqua Pinstripe Theme of the pre Jaguar Era OS X. To me, Leopard is tacky and fails at times (transparent Menubar; unified toolbar; gray and purple theme) To fix these things without unstable hacks is impossible though. It worked well enough for me with Jaguar, but to stay up to date requires Tiger and above now.

Mac OS 9 makes me feel too nostalgic of the old days, so I try not to associate myself with it anymore.

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Ted Hoofar

Thanks for a great article. I work with OS X in my office, but because of some network indexing deficiencies with OS X I still use OS 9 daily. Some people critical of this article have got it all wrong. Yes, OS X is superior to OS 9 but there were some terrific, efficient and productive features in OS 9 that made my workday easier--even a little more fun--but for some reason were left out of OS X. Replacement of the Happy Mac startup icon with a gray apple says it all. The Mac was a quirky, homey community but it's all business now. It's as if we classic users were the embarrassing school buddies that didn't get invited to the wedding. Along with the items listed in the article, here's what I miss:

2. Adjustable memory settings for each app. ("Oh, NOW Office 2001 works great!")

3. OS 9 could remember network window settings. I HATE that every time I make a network connection in OS X I have to hit cmd-shift-T, then cmd-2 and then resize the %*@^$ window to fit on my limited desktop space. And speaking of such:

4. Simpler keyboard commands. One of the more annoying learning curves moving to OS X. Can someone explain how cmd-shift-N is more efficient than cmd-N? And don't get me started on Quark's KC's!

5. Lack of distractions. I can get my work done quicker without the distractions of that Willy Wonka Aqua interface. Again, how does genie effect help get more work done compared to WindowShades?

6. DiskLight and Keyfinder. Yeah, they were Norton tools, not Apple, but still a couple of excellent utilities. You could immediately determine if your mac was pausing to access a hard drive or network connection or if it was just locked up. It could really help now if you have an OS X crash (oops, I mean kernel panic). Keyfinder could immediately list those funky characters that help you name files so they could be put at the beginning or end of a file list.

7. System Folder, Fonts, Extensions and Preferences. Man, it was SO easy to tweak, repair and maintain the system. Explain to me again why we have to have two freakin' Library folders?

8. Buttons. This has nothing to do with the desktop option or even OS 9, but I miss having buttons on a mac:

a. Power button on the keyboard. Man I miss this. It's ironic that Apple would eliminate the keyboard PB with the advent of the Mirror Drive Door PowerMac, a mac so noisy you had to put it under your desk or in a closet. Why is it I can turn on my PC just by touching the spacebar, but have to crawl under my desk to start my mac? And speaking of that...

b. Hard Restart button on the case. I used to just hit a button on my mac to restart after a software or network crash, now I have to crawl under or behind my desk and pull the plug. Safety first!

c. CD drive button. Yes, I know there's a button on the keyboard for that now, but many years of reaching down holding a CD between my thumb and bird finger while pushing the door button with my index finger is a habit hard to break. Also, the button allowed me to insert a boot CD at startup.

I know these things seem trivial, but consider that every time I forget these differences between the OS's is wasted time and frustration that adds up.

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Pekingduk

All of those are great points, and some I have missed very much. And why can't I turn off my monitor? Sometimes I'd like to leave the computer on, and just turn off my 'display' so I don't have the little light bugging me at night. I would like to have the control that the older Macs gave you, and the previous systems. I love OS X, but there are definitely thing to be missed from OS 9.

MacLED, and Firepower? After Dark? Hypercard Stacks? Desk Accessories in the Apple Menu? Sea Battle? DateBook Pro? Billiard? I miss the Garbage can! Easter Eggs!

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Eric T.

One thing I miss is that each volume on your computer had its own desktop folder. Therefore, when you plugged in a Floppy, CD, SCSI, ZIP, USB, or FireWire drive, you could put things from the disk onto its own desktop. When you unplug and re-plug the drive, there they are, back on the desktop!

Another thing I miss is the Apple Menu. You could put anything on it that you wanted to. And it was alphabetically sorted! Nothing could get lost! OS X's Apple menu is unchangeable and contains some of the functions I would use least.

Other things I miss are the switcher (X-Assist let's you use one in OS X), Control Strip, the Launcher, and just how much simpler it is to use.

I miss System 6 - 7.5 more. They are so much easier to use than any other OS I have used. I've decided to move back to OS 7, 8, 9, and 10.0. They're faster and look far better. I understand the "Going Green" bit. But I don't see why Apple had to make an aluminum interface. It looks worse in my opinion.

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Sarah Kuriakos

What I miss the most is that it's not available anymore! They took it out of 10.5 altogether. I have a game that is only available for OS 9, and it's my favorite game, so now I have no way of playing it.

I also miss the metallic sound the trash can lid made when the trash was being emptied. The sound it makes now just isn't the same.

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Anonymous

I enjoy using 10.4 but I missed the way the Apple menu work. Found FruitMenu solved that. I miss fold tabs on the bottom of the screen. Though you don't see it often I miss the way the system folder was organized. OSX inherited just a little to much from BSD but I would not want to go back to OS9. We could use a couple of OSX revs that instead of adding features they refined the OS. Leaner and cleaner.

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Anonymous

How about the control strip?
I have a bunch of stuff on the right side of my menu bar, but I can't collapse them out of the way and when I get too many menus, many of them become unavailable.

On your list the only one I miss is windowshade.

I also miss emailer, oneclick. two great peices of software that died with OS 9.

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Anonymous

I am glad to read I am not the only person who misses the Chooser. I also miss the old Apple Menu. And that about does it.

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MacGeorgeHB

I, too, miss the Chooser; it was a great printer network browser; even on very large networks, it was always possible to up- and down-arrow to the printer needed, and even at a remote location, as long as the printer was online, you could select and print to it, using Generic as the printer type. Nowadays the setup is more complex and it's just plain irritating to have to leave one's working files to setup a new printer.

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Bob-H

While lamenting the lack of OS9 features in OSX, there is SheepShaver for running OS 9.0.4 on the Intel Mac. Also, there is Mini Vmac for running Systems 6 and 7. The caveat with these, though, is getting the essential but elusive ROM chip file (elusive because of the copyright restriction).

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Fred

Instead of what I miss in systems gone by, how about the things we DON'T miss? I have had Macs all the way back to the MacPlus. Remember the system was on the disk you inserted with one application on it?? So much for multitasking...

I remember when we finally got an external drive... or a fan after almost burning out my Mac playing Dark Castle (which recently resurfaced!)...

How about the Imagewriter II? Color printing at its finest :)...

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lhillemn

Dark Castle is back? Where?

Also someone mentioned missing Hypercard. I haven't tried it but there is a company advertising a new version called Tilestack http://www.tilestack.com/

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Linda Hillemann

Dark Castle is back? Where?

Also someone mentioned missing Hypercard. I haven't tried it but there is a company advertising a new version called Tilestack http://www.tilestack.com/

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Anonytwice

the Font/DA Mover...

but i really DO miss Hypercard!

it came bundled with system6 on my Mac Plus, upgraded that machine to a manly 4meg, and a whopping 50meg external hd... ;)
then upgraded to Hypercard 2.1 & ran it on a Performa 6200 (upgraded to 40meg), using 7.5--8.5... and can STILL run on a G4 (now with 1.5gig) using OS9.2

REALLY wish they would come up with a MODERN version (all the OSX features) IMAGINE - fullscreen color stacks running on your new Macbook... could even rename it iCard, and have a "new" killer-app that nobody would expect... [now that i've made myself sad, i think i'll go have a quiet cry]

[fnord]

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Anonymous

Wow, I've been using Macs for a whopping two months now and even I knew the Stickies app was in there.

Does this mean I have passed the test to be an intern or (dare to dream) paid staff member at your publication?? sigh :)

Other than that, nice article.

j

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Paul Eccles

Internet Explorer? Come on? I know it was a good browser back in the day, but now we have Camino, Opera, Firefox, Safari...all way better!

BTW Internet explorer IS in OS X, it's just permanently stuck at version 5.5 My mom's Powerbook still has it on, it sucks.

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sonnymoon42

I have a column of icons on the right-hand side of my screen (drives, folders, & aliases) that will NEVER stay as far to the edge of my screen as I like them to be. Every time I start up in OS X I have to nudge them over a bit. In OS 9 (and prior) they stayed where I put them.

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