The Best of Low End Mac
The Best of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger
Last revised 2012.08.29
Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger was released on April 29, 2005, went through 12 revisions before it was replaced by OS X 10.5 Leopard on October 26, 2007 - two-and-a-half years (almost 30 months to the day) later. Many consider Tiger a high point because of the wide range of hardware it supports and its length of time on the market, which we will probably never see matched with Apple moving toward an annual update cycle.
Tiger would become the first version of OS X to support Intel Macs when they began to ship in January 2006. The PowerPC and Intel versions of Tiger were maintained in parallel, and you can't boot a Mac from a version of Tiger made for the other hardware architecture. Because most Intel Mac users have since moved on to OS X 10.5 and beyond, we focus primarily on the PowerPC version of Tiger on this page.
The best reasons for using Tiger are its support for Classic Mode, which allows you to run Mac OS 9.2.2 within OS X, providing access to a wide range of vintage software (OS X 10.5 Leopard dropped support for Classic Mode) and because your Mac - slower G4s and any G3s - cannot run anything newer.
As of mid 2012, Apple no longer provides security updates, yet some antivirus apps are still available for Tiger. Flash is no longer being updated for PowerPC Macs, but there's a hack that lets Flash 10 run most Flash 11 apps. Browsers are for the most part getting left behind, but TenFourFox remains in development, bringing the power of Firefox 10 to PowerPC Macs.
Apple's official hardware requirements for Tiger are a G3 CPU, 256 MB of system memory, 3 GB of available hard drive space, an optical drive that supports DVDs, and a built-in FireWire port, although it can be run on the 350 MHz iMac, which does not have FireWire. We strongly recommend more than 256 MB of memory - at least 512 MB if your Mac supports it.
Buying and Installing Tiger
- Best Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Prices
- Tips for Installing or Reinstalling Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, Adam Rosen, Adam's Apple, 2009.06.10. Mac OS X 10.4 uses less memory than Leopard, supports Classic Mode on PowerPC Macs, and, unlike Leopard, is supported on G3 Macs.
- You can install Tiger on Macs without DVD-compatible optical drives. See Installing OS X 10.4 Tiger on DVD-Challenged Macs Using FireWire Target Disk Mode and Using FireWire Target Disk Mode to Install OS X on Macs without DVD Drives for details.
- Installing Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger on Unsupported Hardware, Joe Rivera, Mac Fallout Shelter, 2006.01.09. Although Apple doesn't support it, you can install Tiger on the Lombard PowerBook and many other unsupported Macs.
- Hacking the Tiger Installer for Unsupported G3 Macs, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2011.08.31. Although Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger can run on almost every G3 Mac, the installer prevents installation on some models. How to overcome that.
- Is It Worth Maxing the RAM in Old G3 and G4 Macs?, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2009.04.15. Increasing memory can make your old Mac faster and make you more productive, but it probably won't improve resale value by the amount you spend.
- Do G4 Macs Have What It Takes to Remain Useful in a Multicore World?, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2009.01.15. With dual-core Intel CPUs running beyond 2 GHz, is any G4 Mac a practical choice?
- Bringing G3 iMacs and Other G3 Macs into the Tiger Age, Dan Knight and Bill Brown, Mac Daniel, 2007.12.07. Tips on hard drives, memory, WiFi, and getting Mac OS X 10.4 installed on G3 iMacs and other older G3 Macs.
- Long Lasting Mac Value: Tiger and Snow Leopard, Dan Bashur, Apple, Tech, and Gaming, 2012.02.20. Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.6 stand apart by providing lots of support for older Macs and older Mac software.
- Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger: Perhaps the Best Version Ever, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2012.04.27. In many ways, OS X 10.4 Tiger was Apple's best yet, supporting a wide range of hardware and software.
- OS X 10.4 Tiger Still Very Usable on a 500 MHz G3 Mac, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2010.03.11. For writing and basic Internet access, a 500 MHz G3 provides sufficient power and Tiger provides fairly up-to-date software.
- Tiger vs. Leopard: Which Is Best for You?, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2008.09.22. Two great versions of Mac OS X, but unless your Mac is well above the minimum spec for Leopard and has lots of RAM, stick with Tiger.
- What's the Minimum Mac or 'Book for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger?, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2007.01.22. Today's Intel-based Macs are great with Tiger, but how old a Mac can you use and still find satisfactory performance?
- When Is Your PowerPC Mac Too Old?, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2011.12.08. Apple abandoned PowerPC Macs with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in mid 2009. How much longer will they remain useful?
- 11 No Cost Tips for Optimizing Your Mac's Performance, Ed Eubanks Jr, The Efficient Mac User, 2007.03.12. If your Mac is getting sluggish, here are 11 tips that can help restore its original performance.
- 6 Years with Tiger, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2011.04.29. Introduced on April 29, 2005, Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger has a great legacy and remains the last and best choice for many PowerPC Mac users.
- Vintage Mac Workhorse: Power Mac G4 Cube with Mac OS X 10.4.11, Adam Rosen, Adam's Apple, 2011.03.02. The G4 Cube has plenty of power and runs OS X 10.4 Tiger very comfortably, letting it act as a server accessible by new Macs and old.
- Hack Allows PowerPC Macs to Access Flash 11 Content, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2012.01.03. Although Adobe stopped PowerPC Flash development at version 10, this hack lets you view a lot of content that "requires" Flash 11.
- 9 Browsers for G3 and Older G4 Macs, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2008.09.26. The latest versions of Opera, Safari, Shiira, iCab, Radon, Firefox, Demeter, Sunrise, and Camino that run on Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.
- The Best Browsers for Older Macs Running Tiger, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.10.02. A dialup user's overview of browsers for Mac OS X 10.4 puts the emphasis on reliability, downloads, and speed.
- TenFourFox and Flash: The Future of PowerPC Macs on the Web, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2011.09.19. While more and more developers are leaving PowerPC Macs behind, TenFourFox keeps giving us better and better ports of the newest Firefox. Adobe Flash is another story.
- TenFourFox: The Best Browser for PowerPC Macs Running Tiger?, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2011.04.05. TenFourFox is out of beta, stable, and fast. It could be the best overall browser for Mac OS X 10.5 on G3, G4, and G5 Macs.
- OmniWeb: The Best Surviving Free Browser for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger?, Charles Moore, 'Book Value, 2011.01.10. OmniWeb was the last commercial browser to become free, and the current version tends to run quite well on PowerPC Macs with OS X 10.4.
- Safari 4.1.3 for Tiger Revisited and Redeemed, Charles Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2011.03.22. The drive noise issue noted last week eventually went away, and Moore is now working with Safari as the default browser on his Pismo PowerBooks.
- iTunes 9.1.1 is the last version of iTunes compatible with G3 Macs running Tiger.
- iTunes 9.2.1 is the last version of iTunes compatible with Tiger. It requires a G4 or newer CPU, and it won't prevent you from installing version 9.2.1 on a G3 Mac.
Links for the Day
- Mac of the Day: PowerBook 5300, introduced 1995.08.25. The first PowerPC PowerBook - known for flaming performance.
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- World Book Encyclopedia 2012 DVD, Tommy Thomas, Reviews, 2013.03.05. "You may be asking yourself, in an age of Wikipedia and instant information, is World Book still relevant?"
- Vintage Computer Festival SouthEast, April 20-21, 2013, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2013.02.25. Old Apple gear and old PCs.
- iMessage: The Ultimate Messaging Service?, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2013.02.21. In most ways, Apple's iMessage is far superior to BlackBerry Messenger.
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