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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Matthew

I miss:
1. The "Put Away" command in the Finder file menu
2. The ability to change label colors (without hacks)
3. Trash on desktop (without hacks)
4. Changing applications with the application menu (upper right corner)
5. Custom Apple Menu
6. Accessing particular control panels from the Apple Menu (instead of the system 6 behavior of an all-in-one system preferences-type of control panel)
7. Simplicity of the System Folder (copy to a new drive and you can boot--no permissions required)
8. Optional file extensions (not forced)
9. The General Control Panel preference to auto-hide other applications
10. The ability to put anything anywhere.

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Pekingduk

I agree with 'All from Memory,' and the list of 10. I still go up the the right corner of the screen to access the application switcher, then I realize, oh yeah, bummer, it's gone. I do have a collection of old (Retro) Macs that I fire up and use when I want to go back to a different system and some software I still use. I miss the Extensions folder, and being able to choose sounds, and startup movies, and screens. I miss being able to dig into the System folder and know what I was doing. Therefore, I will always keep my old, Retro Macs around. But, OS X is pretty awesome.

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dvsjr

Wow! Great list. I agree with all of them, seriously. Except for extensions, which were sort of the spawn of satan in terms of stability. Utilities like Conflict Catcher and such would help, but problems with your extensions were like slow system creepage in windows; only a matter of time before they appeared.

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Ben

There are times when I feel a little bit nostalgic, so I'll boot my old PowerMac G3 B+W up into OS 9. I wasn't a Mac user in 1999 (I saw the light in 2002), but I can still sense how it must have been a really exciting time for Mac users. Even today the colored case and form factor still make me stop and stare in awe for a while. Some truly timeless systems were released in this time. And while these once new generation systems age, I can't help but think of how much has changed over ten years.

Funny I saw this article on Mac|Life just now because I am actually booted into OS 9 at this very moment. IE 5 is a disaster on the modern web, so I'm writing this on my iPod touch.

By the way, I started put on a Power Mac 6100/66 running system 7.5 in 2002, and I never went back to windows.

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Ben

I completely forgot about the VoicePrint feature.

And I can agree with some of the very angry people in the comments [above and below] about the performance [along with various other aspects] of OS 9. I can't imagine using OS 9 for any serious work [now at least]. It runs horribly dog slow with one gigabyte of RAM compared to Leopard on my 1 GHz iBook G4. So yes, OS X is exponentially better than OS 9 ever could dream of being.

It still is alright to have a little fun remembering operating systems of the past though... well, for Mac users at least.

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Leon Buijs

I used to do 'serious' work on Macs since System 7 (and still going). Of course you are right that for our perception of OS X users with 2008 hardware, things were unusable slow. However, ten years ago you wouldn't know any better and it was really very useable.

I never thought of the PowerTower Pro 210 as slow, because it was faster than anything else I knew then.

Voiceprint was pretty useless for native Dutch speakers.

I really missed the Desktop Tabs. Not just for their (snappier) Stack-alike pop-up. They were really 'normal' windows you'd shove down the edge. I used them al lot and even tried to find 3rd party alternatives. Stacks comes close enough for me.

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Brandon

You're not using true OS 9 if you're on an iBook G4, they don't boot into it natively. Classic mode is slow on pretty much everything IMHO, but rebooting my G3 from OS X back to OS 9 is always a welcome speed boost for some light work. :)

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Anonymous

I can't really say I miss anything about OS9. I've been using Mac's since the 512ke and honestly, I miss the time period more than the Mac itself. I think what's cool is that I associate so much of that period of Mac with that happier (less chaotic?) time in my life. Now if only OSX 10.6 would bring a little of that back.... ;)

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dvsjr

Amen.

(Although I miss OS 9 for reasons stated and more.)

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ammys

Really informative. thanks! mp3 music download

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Anonymous

ok, the window shade was nice. Everything else, I remember with a kind of cringing pain. Of course, windows was worse (win 95 was apple 87, right?)

uh huh

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Anonymous

I didn't own a Mac or even a computer but I remember the original iMac from school. I miss those buggers. So basically I miss the classic OS... >_> more importantly since Leopard... I miss the rounded menu bar. And yes Stickies is still around... Think it's in the utility folder. Probably wrong though.

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Frank Tano

I miss Text Clippings. Highlight any text then just drag and drop it to the desktop (or anywhere else) and a nice clipping of that text was made. Sure, TextEdit services is somewhat similar but I miss that drag and drop.

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Dual

You can make clippings from text, but what I really really miss is the ability to select a section of text and drag it somewhere else WITHIN THE DOCUMENT.

That was great, and it's gone.

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MacGeorgeHB

ClarisWorks (later, AppleWorks) had the feature of letting one highlight the text to be moved to a target location, and clicking enter and the text would automagically reposition. Just a different way of drag and drop, and much faster, since one could target the move to a location pages or chapters far away. [For more information, see any outdated CW or AW manual. Sadly, my old Quadra is non-functional right now, so I am without the functionality of AW.] I haven't checked the new Apple apps (mine are InDesign and other non-Apple apps), so maybe there are new Leopard equivalents.

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RogueCnidarian

Drag-and-drop editing is still there. It's gotten a little funky with cocoa, though all apps support it:

The trick is that you have to select the text, then click and hold for about a second before you drag the text around. Then it works fine.

Go figure.

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John Croshan

I just selected your comment, dragged it to my desktop, and Leopard made a text clipping. Seems like it works to me.

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linedancingurl

all this new technology is great isn't it!I have a blackberry and I thought this was for all cell phones but it isn't! Help!

Linedancingurl

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jdbaum42

I don't use Text Clippings, but I just tried it in Leopard and it seems to do what you describe.

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slamm

Text clippings work just fine in tiger too

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NC

I miss...graphics drivers other than OpenGL. Back with 9 we had Glide and Rave which worked a heck of a lot better than OpenGL ever did. Even now GL is terrible in OSX compared to what it is on Windows. Apple pushed GL so heavily years back, now it doesn't care enough to keep it up to date.

Also I agree with the other comment in reference to the System Folder. It was much easier to troubleshoot problems and manage things with the old System Folder vs the new setup.

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Dirk Branford

There are two main things that I miss, and Apple has to finally put them in OS X. The first you mention: printing a window. You give a workaround, but it does not work as well as it did in OS 9. You workaround only works if you can see all the contents of your window at once without scrolling. In OS 9 when you chose "print window" it printed the entire window contents no matter how many items were in that window and scrolling was required. This was great to print out the entire contents of your hard drive or a folder: Just put it in list view, option click one folder to open all sub folders, and then just print window.

However what I miss more is the feature on "Drive Setup" in OS 9; you had the option to not automount all your drives on your computer. This was great if you have multiple internal drives, but use some as backups or to hold data you hardly use. Instead of those drives mounting each time you started your computer (and making them vulnerable to all sorts of things), you just unchecked "automount at startup" in Drive Setup and the drives didn't start up and mount unless you did it manually.

I have tried everything on OS X to have something similar happen but have found nothing. I have been asking so called Apple Geniuses at Apple stores, posted questions on message boards, but no one has ever given me a way to accomplish this on OS X. So if anyone knows how to do this please let me know.

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Anonymous

You can setup launchd to unmount any drive connected to your mac on startup. Do a google search for Lingon - this utility can help you make the launchd script. If you want to unmount the drive called "Backup" when your Mac starts, use this unix command:

umount /Volumes/Backup

Obviously, change "Backup" to whatever the drive name is you don't want to mount.

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Scott Brookes

I miss the System Folder.... so much easier to navigate though and find things that you didnt need..... to pull extensions out of the extensions folder.... and the startup and shutdown items folders......

also the ability to put a file in the system folder called startupscreen that would change your startup screen

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Anonymous

Uh, you do realize that Mac OS X comes with Desktop Stickies, right? Try Stickies.app :)

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Dr. Macenstein

Yeah, Stickies have been around in OS X since 10.0 in the Apps folder.
Otherwise, nice article.
-The Doc

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Mike

Wow, I feel like a dope. I honestly didn't know the Stickies app was still there.

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