Washington Apple Pi

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Keeping Current in Mac OS System 9

By Lorin Evans

Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information

There is a class of Macintosh users who for whatever reason find no incentive to move to Mac OS X, or who have files created in legacy applications that do not have a counterpart in the animal kingdom of Apple operating systems. If this describes you, Mac OS System 9 is the last stop on the hierarchy of Arabic operating systems produced by Apple.

But what do you do to keep that system as current as possible? Fortunately, that is a one-time exercise as there are no more updates from Apple for stand-alone users and almost the same number of updates for legacy applications that keep you current with that system.

It is for those of you who wish to stay with Mac OS System 9 that this update guide was created. By installing these components, you gain the most potential from your investment. This article address operating system and applications updates from Apple, utilities updates, and applications updates from third party vendors. Installations are all easy to do and can be downloaded via a dial-up connection.

What Processor Do I Have

Start by checking the model Macintosh you are using. For this story, the world of Macintosh computers is divided into machines with a processor that is either pre-G3 or G3/G4.

In the pre-G3 world you have 601 processor [Power Mac or Performa 61/71/8100 series] machines, 603 processor [Power Mac and Performa 5000-series, 6000-series] machines; or 604 processor [Power Mac 73/75/76/85/9500-series] machines. It is possible that you replaced the original processor and installed a G3 processor from a third-party manufacturer. Some third-party processors require an extension to function. Don’t lose that extension if you do any system software updates. It would also be a good idea to check the Web site of the manufacturer to see if there is a newer version of that driver from the one you are now using. Then there is the whole class of G3/G4 processors that will boot directly into Mac OS System 9. With a G-series processor, it is possible for you to install a newer series of updates then is available to the non-G series owner.

How High Can I Go

If you computer does not have a G3/G4 processor in it, you can install up to Mac OS 9.1. It is the last version that will run on a non G-series Macintosh. You will see an error message appear if you attempt to install a newer version. If you have a G-series processor, you can take your computer to Mac OS 9.2.2. There are some applications that require this version of the operating system.

Apple lists the Macintosh computers that will run Mac OS 9 here:


There is a patch produced by Other World Computing called “OS9 Helper” which allows you to install 9.2.1 or 9.2.2 on certain legacy models that will not otherwise accept the update. Go here for details:


Before You Start

The installer for Mac OS 9 is economical. If it does not see something, like a USB connector or a wireless card in your computer, it will not install those items that make such features work. Thus, if you add those components to your computer after completing this update, you will need to do a custom install for those pieces of system software, or you will find that your new add-on does not work.

Where to Find Mac OS 9

If you are using an earlier operating system and would like to move to Mac OS 9, it is no longer available for purchase from Apple. You can find it on eBay and sites that sell used Macintosh software. Be sure to ask the vendor for a “universal install” CD. If you are offered something called a “System Software Restore CD,” it is a CD that was created to work with a specific Macintosh model. If the “System Software Restore CD” is not for your model, keep looking.

Once you have installed any version of Mac OS 9, updates are available at:


Installation is straightforward for each of the system updates. You update one step at a time: Mac OS 9.0 to 9.0.4; on to Mac OS 9.1; then to 9.2.1 and finally to 9.2.2.
If you stop at Mac OS 9.1, there are only two updates you need to install:

Mac OS 9 disc

Oops – You Are Asked For A Firmware Update

If you want to keep going beyond 9.1 and have a G-series processor, you will need to install a firmware update if your computer is a Revision A or B iMac, or a Blue and White G3 tower, some iBooks, or the dual FireWire PowerBook [aka Pismo]. You will find a complete list of all firmware updates here:


Identify your model, download the update and follow Apple’s installation instructions.
With the firmware updated, Mac OS 9.1 can be taken to Mac OS 9.2.1 and then to the end of the line Mac OS 9.2.2 that was released on December 5, 2001.

Are you using Mac OS 9 on an iMac 15-inch flat panel?

If yes, there is a firmware update for the SuperDrive in that model. It fixes a problem with ejecting audio CDs and makes it possible to use 4x DVD-R or 2x DVD-RW media. The update is here:


Now What?

When you are finished installing the system updates, it is time to install a series of applications updates. Please do them in the order presented in this article. For some updates, you will be asked to go to Versiontracker:


Apple Modem Updater 2.0
If you connect to the Web via a modem in a PowerBook G3 Series, iMac, Power Macintosh G3 (Blue and White), and Power Macintosh G4 (PCI and AGP) computers, you need to install this modem updater. Once installed, you should notice more reliable connection. Modem throughput will be at least as good and often better than before the upgrade.


Carbon Library 1.6
Carbon-based applications are those that can run in either an Arabic or Roman operating environment. This update improves their performance and reliability under Mac OS 9 and in some cases must be installed for such an application to work at all.


QuickTime 6.0.3
QuickTime gives you the ability to import and play back audio and video content on the Web. Before you install this update, locate the existing copy of QuickTime in your Applications folder. Drag it to the Trash. Now install 6.0.3. After you reboot, empty the Trash. Get QT 6.0.3 here:


Adobe Acrobat 5.1
Reader is the free viewing application that lets you view, navigate and print Portable Document Format (PDF) files:


Open the custom install menu. You are to check the boxes for Acrobat Reader and ‘Search’. Now, click on ‘Install’. You are to do a custom install. Open the custom install menu. You are to check the boxes for Acrobat Reader and ‘Search’. Now, click on "Install."

Virex 6.0/6.0.1
If you use Virex, the latest virus definition file for version 6 can be found at:


Internet Browsers – Which One?

The two newest are Netscape 7.0.2 and Mozilla 1.3.1. Each has an integrated e-mail program. Internet Explorer is the oldest of the four. However, if you need it to access a Web site that insists on IE, install it. It is OK to have more than one browser installed. 

Netscape Communicator 7.0.2 can be found on www.versiontracker.com. Need help setting it up?  The University of Minnesota is here to assist you:


For Mozilla 1.3.1:


For Internet Explorer 5.1.7:


For iCab 3.0.3:


Internet E-mail

If you prefer a separate e-mail program, your mainstream options are: 

Internet Utilities:

Stuffit Expander 7.0.3 gives you access to virtually any file you download from the Internet or receive in your email. When you are asked for a location to place the Stuffit folder, chose the ‘Utilities’ folder. When you are asked if you want an alias on the desktop, click on ‘OK.’



Graphic Converter is your basic image manipulation tool for hundreds of file formats:


At this point you need to restart your computer and rebuild its desktop file. Instructions from Apple on how to do it are here:


Instructions from me follow:

With the desktop file rebuilt, it is time to get back to work.

High Speed Service under Mac OS 9

Yes you can get high-speed Internet service and it is easy to do. The piece you need to subscribe to a DSL or cable service is called MacPoET. MacPoET is the software that provides PPP [Point to Point Protocol] over Ethernet [PPPoE] for Mac OS 9. It is not a part of your operation system. MacPOET can be found on early versions of the Verizon DSL and Earthlink installer CDs. Once you install it in your System Folder, you can subscribe to a cable or DSL service like the rest of the Roman side of the Macintosh community.

You will find version 1.2 here:


Internet without Wires

Want to go wireless? Why not, if you have the right pieces. All Apple portable computers with a PCMCIA slot in the side [Newton and eMate included] are capable of connecting to the Internet via a wireless card. Some models of the iMac will accept an internal wireless card called “Airport”. The software to get started is Airport 1.3.1. It is found here:


Try MacWireless for parts and accessories:


Farallon (Proxim), Asante and ORiNOCO also made wireless cards that fit in the PCMCIA slot. They are available on eBay and on the Web at sites that sell used Macintosh equipment. Apple’s Airport software works very well with the ORiNOCO card.

To learn more about setting up wireless on legacy equipment, go here:


If you decide to try wireless, download and install a utility called Classic Stumbler. It displays information about all the wireless computer networks in range of your wireless equipped Mac:


Add USB or FireWire

If your computer does not have either USB or FireWire, each can be added via a PCI card, or a PCMCIA card for your PowerBook from Other World Computing (OWC) http://eshop.macsales.com/. As noted above, you will need to install additional software to activate those new capabilities. Go here for those pieces:


Flash Player

Flash Player lets you view interactive content such as menus that slide, games or animations. The last version of Flash produced for Mac OS 9 is 7r69. Download Flash Player for all Mac browsers here:


The link you need is found at the bottom of the window. After you uncompress the file, you will have a thing that looks like a piece of a puzzle. That is the Flash plug-in. Open your new browser folder and locate the folder called “Plug-ins”. Drag the plug-in on top of that closed folder.

Shockwave Player allows you to view interactive Web content like games, business presentations, entertainment, and advertisements from your Web browser. If you need it, get it here:



iTunes 1.1 is available from Apple. However, you are no longer allowed to buy music from the online store with this version:


Audion is a free application which plays audio CDs, MP3s, and streaming network audio:


SoundJam MP is the program used as the foundation to create iTunes. It converts music quickly into MP3s from CD, AIFF, QuickTime™, and WAV formats, and allows you to play MP3 streams over the Internet:


Windows Media Player 7.1.2 allows you to play both streaming and downloadable audio and video content in Windows Media Format [files that end in “.wma”]:


Can’t open “winmail.dat” files

Files with the extension “.dat” usually come by e-mail sent with Microsoft Outlook for Windows. Your Macintosh looks to Graphic Converter to open it; but it can’t. You avoid this by asking the sender to e-mail you in plain text or HTML format. Otherwise, Josh Jacob comes to the rescue. Go here:


Download the Mac OS 9 version of TNEF [1.0b2FAT]. 

Word Processor Updates

Version 3.5.1 is available for Mac OS 9 from:


Users describe it as similar to WriteNow.

Microsoft updates at Mactopia



WordPerfect (WP) Updates
If you are caught in the Word 6 dilemma, are a current user of WP, or are searching for a different document creation tool, then:


is your resource for all things WordPerfect. If you don’t own it, WP 3.5e is free. WordPerfect 3.5e is not an upgrade of an earlier version; it is a full replacement. Download 3.5e here:


Additional help configuring the application is found here:


AppleWorks Updates
If you are using ClarisWorks 5.0v1, update to v3 here:


Then go to v4. It fixes some Mac OS 9 issues and changes the name of the program to AppleWorks. It is here:


There is no update path from AppleWorks v5 to v6. If you are using AppleWorks 6, be sure to update to 6.2.7, which is the latest and probably last update for this venerable works program. [v6.2.9 is the Mac OS X equivalent]. That update is here:


WriteNow 4 Update
Originally written for the 68k processor, the clean code of that program has enabled it to survive to this day. If you use it and want to update to version 4.0.2, it is found on Versiontracker. WriteNow Enhancer 2.0 and additional information on using the program are found here:


PrintToPDF is a shareware printer driver that creates Adobe Acrobat Reader (.pdf) files without needing the full Acrobat package. You can create PDF bookmarks to your section and subsection headings, and URLs will become hot links. If you use it, pay the shareware fee ($20.00) – a bargain. Get it here:


Printer Drivers

The printer driver for many inkjet and laser printers requires an update to work reliably with Mac OS 9. Go to the Web site for your printer and look in the download section. If there is an update for yours, download and install it.

Daylight Savings Time change for Mac OS 9. 

Apple has no plans to fix the code that automatically translates the old Daylight Savings Time formula to the new one mandated by Congress. Find the Date & Time control panel and uncheck “Set Daylight-Savings Time Automatically.” You will have to spring ahead and fall back manually. There is a hack that restores the automatic feature, but explaining how to install it is beyond the scope of this article.

Roman Tweaks

Would you like to watch how much CPU time is being taken by your applications or see where the memory in your computer is being used the way your Roman friends do? Go here:


and download Peek-a-Boo 1.6 and Memory Mapper 1.5. Now don’t get carried away at this Web site. There are some things there with which you really don’t want to play.

Thought of something else you want?

Go here:


Help yourself to the lost loot of Apple. You will find manuals, software updates, disability solutions, and lots of miscellaneous goodies to get you in trouble.
You can also go to Versiontracker,


and discover that you have not been forgotten. Click on the tabs to select the category of Mac OS-9 applications, utilities or games you would like to browse.

Oh, and One More Thing

Well actually three. When you are all finished installing updates and stuff:

  1. Run Disk First Aid again.
  2. Rebuild your desktop again:
  3. Allocate additional RAM to each of the programs you just installed. Double the recommended amount of RAM for all but QuickTime player, the browser you install, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Word or WordPerfect. For those, triple the recommended number. Here is how to do that: