Charles Moore's Mailbag

OS X Features for OS 9, Opera as Default Browser, MacTV Value, Jinxed Power Mac, and More

Charles Moore - 2006.08.02 - Tip Jar

Adding OS X Features to OS 9

From Donald Johnson

Although it is nice to bring back some OS 9 features for OS X, I often long for some of the simple features of the OS X Finder on my OS 9 Macs. Most especially I would like the ability to open subfolders within the same window as their parent. Any suggestions?

Donald Johnson

Hi Donald,

None that I can think of offhand. If some utility exists that could support this feature in OS 9, perhaps someone in readerland can point the way.


Opera Setting Itself as Default Browser

From Christoph Trusch

Hello Charles W. Moore,

The same happens to me (see Opera Setting Itself as Default Browser). I had used Opera 5 (OS 9 version, the build I have is 5.0b5.465) for some time, because it was the last and only decent Opera version for the Mac during the dark ages of horrible OS X try-and-error ports and the whole Opera 6 disaster, until Opera 7 finally came out.

I keep it around for sentimental reasons and for testing purposes, having long upgraded to Opera 9 in OS X, of course. Whenever I start it now, I have to manually switch the default browser back afterwards to whatever my default browser is at that time (normally SeaMonkey).

The RCDefaultApp System Preferences extension - a thing Apple should have built-in natively like in OS 9 - is a nice way to switch the default browser quickly. I asked some people who are usually in the know in the Opera forum, but they had no idea, and of course now that Opera 5 is a little outdated, there won't be a bug-fix anymore. I just learned to live with this strange behavior.

What really disturbs me, however, is that a Classic application can change an OS X default setting. Even if you say No to the question at Opera 5's startup - if you'd like to have Opera set as the default browser (you have to manually edit the preferences file to get that dialog back once you told Opera to not show it again) - Opera still changes the OS X default browser. Looks like Opera will set itself as the default in the Classic "Internet" preferences panel (in the "Web" tab) no matter what you do, and this panel is somehow connected to the OS X default browser setting. Whatever Classic application I select as "Web" default in that OS 9 panel will also become the OS X setting as long as there is an OS X version of that program in the Applications (OS X) folder - even if I select "QuickTime Player" or something. Very, very weird coincidence of an old Opera bug and Apple's apparent inability to keep Classic and X preferences apart.

Best regards,
Christoph Trusch

Hi Christoph,

Thanks for the interesting report. You seem to have the same taste in browsers as I do, although I never really liked Opera much prior to version 7.5, and I really got hooked with version 8. Version 9 is wonderful, and I also use SeaMonkey a lot.


Bizarre iMac G3 Startup Problem

From Mat Schulte

Please help me restore my 4-year-old daughter's faith in my computer superheroism! I don't know who else to ask; you and your readers seem to come up with solutions to the most obscure Mac issues. Hopefully, this one is something simple.

A while ago I received a G3 iMac 450, the "DV +" I think they call it. It was free, because it "wouldn't start up." I quickly ascertained that the hard drive was bad. The only one I had available to put in was a 6 GB from an older Rev. C iMac.

Everything worked fine for a while, both OS 9 and Panther. However, a month or so ago, I decided to reinstall everything (for some reason I can't remember, but that seemed important at the time). Only thing is, I started with Panther, skipping the OS 9 install. Once again, everything seemed fine.

Then I decided to go back and install 9, but it wouldn't start from the OS 9 install CD. The CD shows up in Panther's Startup Disk pref pane, but when you restart, you get the blinking question mark. The short of it is, this computer will now only start up in OS X, either CD or hard drive. It will not start up from any OS 9 System Folder, whether CD or hard drive (I tried dragging a System Folder off another computer, and as such it works fine in Classic mode, but it won't actually boot from 9, no matter what I do).

The PRAM battery is brand new. I've tried switching out RAM modules just in case. I've reset PRAM. The firmware is 4.1.9. Panther's Disk Utility finds nothing wrong. Neither does Norton Utilities - although it will not start from an OS 9 Norton disk either.

I've never encountered anything like this! I wouldn't even care that much, but a couple of my daughter's older games and art programs don't like Classic very much, so the dual-bootability is still desired.

If anyone has any ideas, I will be extremely grateful.

Mat Schulte

Hi Mat,

My guess is that you didn't select the "Install OS 9 Disk Drivers" checkbox option in Disk Utility when (if?) you reinitialized the hard drive before installing OS X.

If that is the case, you will need to wipe and reinitialize the hard drive again, making sure to install the OS 9 drivers.


Old Versions of AIM

From Ian Anderson


I am hoping to find an old copy of AIM or an AIJN-client that will run on a 68K Mac, specifically a 20 MHz 68LC040 Centris 610.

Thank you, and keep up your good work.

Ian Anderson

Hi Ian,

Try here:

or here:


MacTV Value

From Chris Turpin

Hello, Charles.

Your last advice to running Tiger [OS X 10.4] on my G3 iMac helped me tremendously. I went with the thought in my head and bought Panther [OS X 10.4]. It runs great on my G4 AGP, and my iMac.

Mac TVI have another question I've been meaning to ask the right person. I have an old MacTV sitting in my room, unused, and I've been meaning to sell it. Since it just gathers dust, I'd rather it be in someone else's hands. Probably someone who would appreciate it more. While I'd rather not sell it, but just give it away to a distant friend. But I need the money for a G4 upgrade....

I'd just like to ask what you would recommend for a price point. It has 8 MB of RAM, 150 MB hard disk, stock CD-ROM, etc. It has a few scratches on the case - nothing major.

It doesn't have the black keyboard, unfortunately, or the mouse, but I am including an Apple Extended Keyboard and a Kensington Thinking Mouse with it (4 buttons!). It has 7.6 installed on it.

Any recommendation would be nice.


Hi Chris,

I'm delighted that my OS X advice was helpful.

Wow, a Mac TV. Those are pretty rare - and one of the more interesting ancient Macs. I have an LC 520 is good working order that is a close cousin.

As to price point, anything I could suggest would be a wild guess. Unfortunately, the lack of the original black keyboard and mouse diminishes its value as a collectable considerably.

As a computer, it's 8 MB of RAM (non-upgradable) hobbles it as a workhorse, although it would still be suitable for word processing.

Price would depend on what the buyer is willing to pay.


Jinxed 9600 Kills ATI VR128

Following up on OS 9 and Video Capture with PCI Macs, David Harpe writes:

Hi Charles

It turns out that the software for the system is something called Avid 7.2, and it also needs a lot of supporting hardware. I doubt I have the resources to assemble all of this, so I took them out. I put the ATI VR128 in, and it worked for about a week. This morning I turned on the 9600, and it was dead.

Turns out all the PCI cards are dead, and I suspect the power supply did something really awful and killed a lot of stuff. I should have been more careful, because I knew the machine was very badly mishandled by FedEx when it was shipped here.

Unless I can get another one of those video cards, my video days are over. If I do get one, I guess it's back to doing everything with the ancient but reliable 7200.


Hi Dave,


Your story reminds me of a rough shape Power Mac 9500 my son resurrected, only to burn out the motherboard with some wrong voltage scrounged RAM.


Digital Rolleiflex TLR

digital rolleiflexFrom Greg Endler

I found a posting (Rolleiflex TLRs and Digital, 2004.09.20) through a search and thought I would let you know that a digital TLR can be made. While many people think it is completely stupid to waste my time building one, I'm still going forward to make it work.

Here's a picture of the first version of the prototype:


Hi Greg,

Gotta love those old Rolleis. What a great looking camera!

I don't think it's a stupid idea at all. I would love to have a digital back for my Rolleicord. I'll be fascinated to hear how you make out with this project.


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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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