10 Things We Miss From OS 9

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10 Things We Miss From OS 9



Come on Apple, bring this to OS X


Print Window
It’s not necessarily a daily task, but there are plenty of times when the ability to quickly print the contents of a Finder window comes in handy; however, Apple inexplicably removed this feature when making the move from Carbon to Cocoa. It has since included a hidden, cumbersome way to accomplish this simple task, but after six major versions of OS X, Print Window has yet to reappear. (Here’s how to do it: Open the desired Finder window; press Command+Shift+4, followed by the space bar; move the camera cursor that appears until it highlights the open Finder window; click the mouse once; double-click the document that appears on your desktop or in the Documents Stack to open it in Preview; and finally, press Command+P. Easy, right?)





Internet Explorer
OK, bear with me on this one. Back before I bought my first Mac, I did all my writing and researching on a used laptop running Windows 95. Once I scraped together enough money to foot the bill for a PowerMac, I ditched the ThinkPad and dove head first into the Mac desktop experience, which was a little daunting at first. It may sound strange, but it was comforting to see the blue Internet Explorer icon in a sea of unfamiliarity --- and I think today’s switchers would appreciate the same friendly face.



Uh oh


When OS 9 crashed --- which was far more frequent than we’d like to remember --- a dialog box popped up informing you of the need to restart. To ease the pain of losing whatever you happened to be working on at the time was a silly graphic of a bomb seconds away from going off. Apple’s OS X answer is an unsettling full-screen picture of a power button, with a cascading multi-language message imploring a restart. We prefer OS 9’s cute, little exploder.





Clarus the Dogcow
Like die-hard fans of any professional sports team, Mac devotees have a tendency to latch onto little things that set them apart from the rest of the crowd. Enter Clarus the dogcow. Introduced as one of the dingbats in the Cairo font suitcase way back when, Clarus soon found a home in the Mac OS page setup box, where she skillfully showed the paper’s orientation, “moofed” when clicked and inspired legions of geeks to print a little more often than necessary. She even had her own theme song, found in Macintosh Technical Note #31:


A dogcow is what I want to be.
Pictured in dialogs,

Running through the weeds,

In and out of advertisements,

Loving my naughty deeds.
Feeling in black and white.
Over the edge of cliffs,

Out with the tide in the sea.

Living life to the fullest,

Sweet survival in 2 D.


And if anyone at Apple is reading this, we all miss her dearly.



This may take a while


Coffee Breaks
With the dawn of OS X, proper multi-tasking on the Mac was finally born. No longer did we have to wait for a 1MB Photoshop file to render before we could begin working on another project. Gone were the trips outside for a cigarette while a video compressed, or to the vending machine while a disc burned. Of course, we appreciate the increase in productivity, but how are we supposed to catch a cat-nap while a progress bar slowly moves across the screen now?



Editors Note (AKA Robbie): Thanks to a few keen-eyed readers, we realized that a wonderful Stickies apps resides near the bottom of our Applications folder in Leopard. Let's just say we've written a few unprintable words on our newly discovered desktop Sticky. Still, we're not about to hide our mistake. Check out the Stickies item below.


All the convenience, none of the adhesive


Desktop Stickies
There’s no arguing that Dashboard is one of the most useful apps to come out of Cupertino’s labs since iTunes. With breathtaking effects, striking graphics and dozens of practical applications, Dashboard opened up the Mac desktop to a world of mini Web apps available at the stroke of a key. They’ve undoubtedly made our lives easier, but there is at least one that we OS 9 users would like to see return to OS X proper: Stickies. Dashboard Stickies are certainly useful, but Post-It notes work much better when they’re in plain view. UNIX tinkers can fiddle in Terminal to trick the Stickies Widget (defaults write com.apple.dashboard devmode YES), but most Mac users will be forced to enter Dashboard to read their important notes.



What do you miss from OS 9? Tell us in the comments below.




+ Add a Comment


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


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.



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. :)



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.... ;)




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



Really informative. thanks! mp3 music download



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



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.


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.



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.



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.



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.


John Croshan

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



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!




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



Text clippings work just fine in tiger too



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.


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.



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.


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



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


Dr. Macenstein

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



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

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