Best Classic Mac Software

This page lists some of the best software for the Classic Mac OS – System 6 through Mac OS 9.2.2 – in my admittedly biased opinion. Listings are alphabetical, and some programs have OS X versions as well as classic ones. Many links are to archived files in my Dropbox.

Freeware

Classilla is the most up-to-date browser for the Classic Mac OS and Classic Mode in Mac OS X up to 10.4.11. It’s based on the old WaMCom port of Netscape/Mozilla. Classilla is PowerPC only and works best with Mac OS 9.x, but it is pretty compatible with Mac OS 8.6 if that’s what you happen to have. To speed up loading, version 9.3.0 and later appears as a mobile device when visiting websites. The Classilla FAQ tells you how to disable that if you want full versions of websites.

DaylightSavingsTime is a control panel that automatically changes your system clock and toggles the DST bit when daylight savings time starts and ends. Not necessary with Mac OS 8.5 or later, it’s a great thing to have with older versions of the Mac OS.

Disinfectant 3.7.1 is a free antivirus program for the Mac. It does not handle any macro virus or deal with the AutoStart Worm. There will be no future updates.

Eudora (freeware) is an excellent email program, although I prefer Claris Emailer. The Light mode is feature limited, the sponsored mode displays ads, and the $50 paid mode is full featured, ad free, and includes SpamWatch.

Pre-6.x versions were available on the Old Eudora Installers page, and Really Old Eudora Installers are also available for Eudora Lite on System 6 and 7, but these links now go to Thunderbird.

  • Eudora Lite 1.3.1 supports System 6.0.x.
  • Eudora Lite 3.1.3 requires System 7.0 or later and will work on a Mac Plus or better.
  • Version 4.3.3 requires Mac OS 7.6 or later and a PowerPC processor.
  • Versions 5.0.1 and 5.1.x require Mac OS 8.1 or later and a PowerPC processor. The OS X version supports 10.0 and later.
  • Version 5.2.x is available in both Classic and OS X versions. The classic version requires Mac OS 8.6 or later and CarbonLib 1.6 or later. The OS X version supports 10.0 and later.
  • Version 6.x requires Mac OS 9 with CarbonLib 1.6 or later or OS X 10.0 or later.
  • Eudora for OS X uses Thunderbird as its foundation.

iCab, the perennial beta browser from Germany has been developed for Mac OS X, the classic Mac OS, and even 680×0 Macs. The 680×0 version supports Mac OS 7.1 through 8.1. The PowerPC version supports OS 7.6.1 through 9.2.2. iCab 3.0 requires Mac OS 8.5 through 9.2.2.

Macjordomo (Leuca) is a remarkably easy to use mail list manager. The program is under constant update. I recommend running it on a separate computer from your mail server, since bad subscriber commands can occasionally lock it up. Because it runs a Mac Plus, you won’t need a lot of power to do this. I used it to manage several email lists in the past.

NetPresenz 4.1 (Stairways, free) lets you use your Mac as a web server, FTP server, and with Gopher (whatever that is). Running it on my vintage Mac II, it served pages about 50% faster than MacHTTP. Requires System 7 through 9.2.2.

Netscape Communicator 4.8 (Netscape) used to be my favorite Web browser. Not as svelte as Navigator 3.0, but you don’t have to (or want to) install all the options. (Netscape Navigator 4.0 is too stripped down – it can’t even send email!) Firefox is available to OS X users, and TenFourFox is a port of Firefox to PowerPC Macs running OS X 10.4 Tiger or 10.5 Leopard.

PopChar Lite v2.7.2 gives you a pulldown window displaying the entire character set in your current font. Much easier than remembering some of those obscure keystrokes. Requires System 7 to 9.x. Also a download link on Pure Mac.

SIMS 1.8, the Stalker Internet Mail Server (Stalker) is faster than EIMS (Eudora Internet Mail Server). Better yet, it offers spam filtering – essential in the era of junk email. The latest beta adds support for multiple spam blocking lists.

Microsoft’s free TrueType fonts are nice, but they are no longer available for separate download. Just install Internet Explorer 4 or 5 (which Microsoft has also made hard to find, so use your Mac OS install disc), and you’ll have them. For many years, Low End Mac was optimized for their Verdana font, which is more legible on screen than Arial or Helvetica.

Shareware

Address Book 4.2.4 (shareware, $30) is a great program for storing addresses, printing envelopes and address books, etc. (Jim Leitch, the author of Address Book, passed away in October 1996. Address Book was being handled by Jim Smith Software, but I am no longer able to locate jimsmithsoft.com on the Web.)

Default Folder 3.1.5 (shareware, $25, St. Clair Software) does what Boomerang and Directory Assistance used to, until Mac OS 8 broke them. Of course, it works with System 7, too, and tracks the various folder’s you’ve been working in. It also works beautifully in Classic Mode. I wish OS X had a way to make navigating as simple and powerful as this little Control Panel does.

GraphicConverter (Lemkesoft, shareware, $30 or $35) is a great, easy-to-use image editor that can work with more graphic formats than you can shake a stick at. Only drawback: It makes much larger GIF files than Photoshop (which means that after working in GraphicConverter, I run the GIF through Photoshop to reduce file size and use the Export For Web option). You could also try SuperGIF, which requires System 7.5.5 or later, but it’s $30 shareware. You could try the CompressNow website, which is a free service that reduces the size of GIF, PNG, and JPG files. I use ImageOptim (freeware) on my OS X Macs – the oldest version requires OS X 10.3 Panther, and there are versions for almost every OS X version since..

MenuChoice 2.1 (Kerry Clendinning, shareware, $15) is much faster and more flexible than Apple Menu Items. Requires System 7 to 9.x.

SmoothType 2.3.1 (shareware, $10) provides anti-aliased TrueType and Type 1 fonts, which can look just great on your screen. Be forewarned, this will make your Mac more sluggish. Try it to see if the improved look is worth it. (Alas, it didn’t work well with FrameMaker 5 and/or Mac OS 8.1 on my Power Mac at work.) Recent versions of ATM and ATM Deluxe (much more expensive) offer anti-aliasing, but only with Type 1 PostScript fonts.

ramBunctious 1.6.2 (shareware, $12) allows you to create RAM disks. The RAM disk that you can create using Apple’s Memory control panel has two drawbacks:

  1. To turn it on or off, you must restart your Mac.
  2. It loses all data when you turn off your desktop Mac.

Since ramBunctious is an application, you can launch RAM disks as you need them. It can also mirror any change to your RAM disk to an image file on your hard drive or a removable media disk (Zip, SyQuest) of flash drive, making it easy to restore the contents of your RAM disk. Also available for OS X.

Remember? (Dave Warker, shareware, $20) is a helpful program to remind you of birthdays, anniversaries, and appointments. Version 3.4 supports System 7.x and later; version 4.2 requires Mac OS 8.0 or later and supports OS X.

Commercial

AppleWorks 6 (formerly ClarisWorks) is simply the best integrated software ever made. Period. For most users, it’s all the word processor and all the spreadsheet you’ll ever need. It’s a shame Apple hasn’t updated it in years and hasn’t updated it top run natively on Intel Macs. Version 6.2.x runs natively in Mac OS X and is written for PowerPC, and it runs just fine with Rosetta on Intel Macs through OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard.

For OS X users who have AppleWorks files but can no longer run AppleWorks on their new Macs, LibreOffice (free) opens AppleWorks word processing documents and most spreadsheets. Versions for OS X 10.4 and later.

Claris Home Page 3.0 (FileMaker, discontinued) is the easiest to use page design software I ever worked with, and it produces pages that display pretty consistently across browsers. This entire website was constructed using Home Page from 1997 until 2013, when we switched to WordPress. You can learn and use all the HTML tricks you want – but you don’t have to learn any.

Claris Emailer (Apple, discontinued) is an excellent email program, easily handling multiple accounts, offering sophisticated filtering, and very intuitive. A f ree 60-day trial version was available from Claris. Helpful review on MacSpectre.

FileMaker Pro (FileMaker, about $200) is easy and powerful, perhaps the best and most Mac-like database ever created. Version 4 even supports putting your data on the Web. (I’m still working happily with version 3.)

Speed Doubler 8, Copy Agent (Connectix, discontinued) provides smart file copying (only changed files are replaced), a more intelligent disk cache, and, for Power Macs, a better 680×0 emulator than Apple has. Speed Doubler works through Mac OS 8.6; Copy Agent requires Mac OS 8.5 or later and eliminates the disk caching and 680×0 emulation. Look for these on eBay.

QuicKeys (CE Software, under $100) lets you create macros and other shortcuts. I found it invaluable with the classic Mac OS, but I don’t use it under OS X. Version 5 requires Mac OS 8.5 or later.

RAM Charger 8.1 (Jump Development, $40-45) dynamically allocates memory as programs need it. I’d call that smarter than RAM Doubler, which it is compatible with. By launching applications using the minimum amount of memory they need, RAM Charger lets you run more programs.

Photoshop (Adobe, under $600) is the best image editor I’ve worked with. Hint: You can sometimes buy a good color scanner bundled with a full version of Photoshop for less than the cost of Photoshop alone or pick up an older version on eBay that has all the features you need for a lot less than the cost of a new copy. Even the Lite and Elements versions of Photoshop have plenty of power for most users.

PowerPrint and PowerPrint Pro (Infowave, discontinued) <see review> let you print to almost any parallel-port printer from your Mac with a DIN-8 serial port. PowerPrint is for a single user; the Pro version lets you put the printer on a network. Excellent with DeskJets, OfficeJets, etc.

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