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Chapter 5. Back to Mac OS 9 > Two Roads to Mac OS 9

5.1. Two Roads to Mac OS 9

You can return to Mac OS 9 in either of two ways. Here's a summary that outlines the pros and cons of each method:

  • Run Classic. The program called Classic is one of the crowning achievements of Mac OS X. You can think of it as a Mac OS 9 simulator or emulator. It runs automatically whenever you double-click the icon of a pre-Mac OS X program.

    At that point, the Classic (Mac OS 9) world takes over your screen, looking exactly as though the old Mac OS 9 you used to know (or not know) is starting up. There's the old startup logo, the parade of extensions across the screen, your old menu, the non-striped menu bar, and so on. Once it's running, you can run almost all of your older Mac OS 9 programs without a hitch.

    Classic is the reason Apple recommends that you install Mac OS X only on Macs with at least 128 MB of memory. When you run it, your Mac is running two operating systems at once, which requires quite a bit of memory.

    For most people, most of the time, Classic is the easiest, quickest, and most effective way to run older Mac programs.


    Classic requires Mac OS 9.2 or later. The most recent version of Mac OS 9 is almost always the best.

  • Restart the Mac in Mac OS 9. Unfortunately, Classic is only a simulator. It isn't your operating system at the time—it isn't actually controlling your Mac. (Mac OS X continues to run beneath it.)

    Whenever a certain program "reaches for" a particular piece of circuitry on your Mac, such as the FireWire or USB jack, it comes up empty-handed. That's why many scanners, digitizing tablets, and even printers don't work when you run programs in the Classic mode.

    Fortunately, you can also restart your Mac in Mac OS 9, just as though you don't have Mac OS X installed at all. At this point, you've got just a regular Mac OS 9 machine, and all of that older gear works just as it always did. Of course, you don't get any of the benefits of Mac OS X, such as its stability and multitasking prowess.

    Note, too, that Macs made after January 2003 don't offer this feature at all. They can't be started up in Mac OS 9 (thanks, Apple). The description of this option in this chapter applies only to the earlier Macs that can.



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