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Chapter 4. Programs and Documents > How to Use Classic, If You Must

4.10. How to Use Classic, If You Must

If only we could move into Mac OS X and live there! Unfortunately, software makes the world go 'round, and it could be a while before every program you'd ever want to use has been written or rewritten for Mac OS X.

Figure 4-18. Use the Summarize command to create a one-paragraph summary (bottom) of a longer passage (top). Once the summary appears in the Summary Service program, you can make the summary more or less concise by dragging the Summary Size slider. You can also ask it to display the most statistically relevant paragraphs instead of sentences, just by clicking the appropriate radio button at the lower left. (Bear in mind that Summary Service doesn't actually do any creative rewriting; even Mac OSX can't come up with something coherent if the original wasn't. Instead, Summary Service chooses the most statistically significant sentences to include in the summary.)

That doesn't mean you can't use them at all, though. You can certainly run your old favorites within Mac OS X—by flipping back into Mac OS 9. There are two ways to do that:

  • Run Classic. You can think of the Classic program 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 like a 1999 Macintosh, complete with the old startup logo, oldmenu, non-striped menu bar, and so on. Once it's running, you can launch most older Mac OS 9 programs without a hitch. 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 really old Mac programs. (Except on Intel-based Macs, that is. Those computers can't run Classic programs at all.)

  • Restart the Mac in Mac OS 9. Unfortunately, Classic is only a simulator. Because Mac OS X continues to run beneath it, it isn't actually controlling your Mac.

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

    In those situations, you might be able to use a second technique, although fewer and fewer people have this option with every passing month. If you bought a Mac model that was introduced before 2003, 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 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.)

    If you have the will and the Mac necessary to restart in Mac OS 9, open System Preferences → Startup Disk, click the Mac OS 9 System Folder you want to be in charge, and then click Restart. (To switch back to Mac OS X when you're done, choose → Control Panels → Startup Disk and click the specific Mac OS X System folder you want to be in charge. Then restart.)

4.10.1. Running Classic

If you've got a sufficiently old Mac, it's probably got Mac OS 9 installed already. In that case, when you double-click the icon of a pre–Mac OS X program, your Mac instantly concludes, "Well, this program won't run in Mac OS X, so I'll just go ahead and launch your Mac OS 9 simulator."

Otherwise, if you want to run a pre-Mac OS X program, you'll need to get and install a copy of Mac OS 9 yourself. (See http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?path=Mac/10.4/en/mh763.html for assistance.) Once you've done that, you can double-click a Mac OS 9 program to get it going.

At this point, a progress bar appears in a floating window, as shown in Figure 4-20. During the startup process, you'll see a little Classic (numeral 9) icon in your Dock, just to help you understand what's going on.

Figure 4-19. When you're running Mac OS X, the System Folder that contains Mac OS 9 is clearly marked by the golden 9. Only one System Folder per disk may bear this logo, which indicates that it's the only one officially recognized by the Mac. (As the programmers say, it's the "blessed" System Folder.)

When all the bouncing stops, you'll see a number of changes onscreen. Your Apple menu is now rainbow-striped, as it was in the days before Mac OS X. The menu bar is light gray, its fonts are smaller, and its menus and commands are different. In short, you've now gone back in time to Mac OS 9.


As an entire operating system, Mac OS 9 could well be the subject of an entire book unto itself—like Mac OS 9: The Missing Manual.

Once Classic is running, you're free to use the Mac OS 9 program you originally double-clicked—or any other Mac OS 9 programs, for that matter.

Remember, though, that you're running two operating systems simultaneously. When you click a Mac OS X program's icon on the Dock, you bring forward both that program and Mac OS X itself. When you double-click a Mac OS 9's Dock icon (or click inside a Mac OS 9 program's window), you bring forward both that program and Mac OS 9. You can copy and paste information between the programs running in these two worlds—or even drag-and-drop highlighted material—but that's pretty much the extent of any cross-operating system communication.

Remember, though, that the old Mac OS is no more stable now than it ever was. One buggy program can still freeze or crash the entire Classic bubble. At that point, you may have to exit the Mac OS 9 portion of your machine, losing unsaved changes in all of your Mac OS 9 programs, just as though it were a Mac OS 9 machine that had locked up. (Mac OS X soldiers on, unaffected, and all your Mac OS X programs remain safe, open, and running.)

Figure 4-20. Top: Starting up Classic involves waiting for the progress bar to fill up.
Bottom: If you click the flippy triangle below the progress bar, you summon what looks like the full screen of a Macintosh floating within your own Mac's monitor, displaying the standard extensions and control panel icons, the Mac OS 9 logo, and other landmarks of the traditional Mac OS 9 startup process. (Note that the title bar identifies which Mac OS 9 System Folder you're starting up from.)

There's really no good reason to quit the Classic simulator, ever. If you have a new Mac with plenty of memory, you may as well leave it open so that you won't have to wait for the startup process the next time you use a Mac OS 9 program.

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