Using Classic

Using Classic

As I wrote earlier in the chapter, using Classic is for the most part straightforward—when Classic is running you simply launch and use Classic applications as you would any other applications. You can even copy and paste data between Classic and OS X applications, or use drag-and-drop to move data between them. However, there are a few areas, such as printing, where you'll need to set things up, a few areas in which Classic might not behave the way you expect, and a few ways you can make using Classic a bit easier.

Other Ways of Starting and Stopping Classic

I recommended earlier that you start and stop Classic manually, due to potential problems with having Classic start at login or when launching a Classic application. Unfortunately, launching Classic manually is a bit of a hassle, since you have to open System Preferences to do so. Here are a few other ways you can start and stop Classic that are quite a bit more convenient.

Start/Stop Classic from the Dock

The easiest way to start up Classic without any third-party software is to place the Classic Startup application in the Dock (by dragging it to the Dock from its location at /System/ Library/Core Services/Classic Startup). When you want to start up Classic, just click the Classic Startup icon in the Dock. The only drawback to this method is that you still have to quit Classic by opening the Classic pane of System Preferences—you can't quit it by control/ right-clicking on the Classic Startup icon in the Dock and choosing the Quit command. (In fact, the Classic Startup application only runs until Classic finishes loading, so you can't tell if Classic is running by looking at the Classic Startup icon in the Dock; however, if you click the icon while Classic is already running, a message will pop up to let you know.)

Two third-party utilities that offer a bit more functionality are the shareware Classic Toggler ( and Classic? ( Classic Toggler is a standard OS X application; when you launch it, its Dock menu includes Startup and Shutdown commands for the Classic Environment. In addition, by switching to Classic Toggler, you can use the Classic menu to instantly launch the OS 9 Chooser or Extensions Manager, launch frequently used Classic applications, and access Classic items such as the OS 9 Desktop, Apple Menu, Control Panels, and the System Folder (and you can install items in these folders by dropping them on the Classic Toggler icon in the Dock). As an added bonus, by choosing Classic Preferences Manager or Classic Desktop Manager you can quickly synchronize items between your OS 9 and OS X Preferences folders or Desktop folders, respectively.

Classic? provides options similar to Classic Toggler, but since it is a Dock Extra rather than a dedicated application, all of its functions are contained in its Dock menu (Figure 8.5). You can start or stop Classic, force quit Classic, rebuild the Classic Desktop, and quickly access Classic control panels as well as Quick Classic Items (basically any applications or aliases you place in ~/Library/Application Support/Classic?). You can also quickly view the Classic Environment's memory and CPU usage right from the menu.

Figure 8.5: Classic? provides a helpful Dock menu for working with Classic

Both Classic Toggler and Classic? also provide excellent visual feedback about whether Classic is currently running (see "How Can I Tell If Classic Is Running?").

Start/Stop Classic from the Menu Bar

If you're partial to the menu bar, or if your Dock is just too cluttered, there are a couple of great Menu Extras that let you control the Classic Environment. The freeware Classic Spy ( provides a simple menu that allows you to start or stop Classic (including a force quit of Classic, if necessary) or to open Classic preferences. The shareware Classic? that I just talked about also comes in a Menu Extra version that offers the same features as the Dock Extra version.


Both of these Menu Extras require the freeware Menu Extra Enabler ( to function properly under OS X 10.2.

Classic Peculiarities

Although you can switch to and between Classic applications using the Dock just as you can with OS X applications, there are a few ways in which Classic doesn't work quite as seamlessly as Apple would have you believe. Most of these inconsistencies relate to appearance—application windows, menus, Open/Save dialogs, and the Apple Menu—but there are also issues that arise in terms of preferences and application launching.


When you switch back and forth between OS X and Classic applications, you'll notice immediately that Classic applications don't take advantage of OS X's Aqua interface. Windows have the Mac OS 9 Platinum appearance (including the WindowShade button, which works as expected), as do menus and dialog boxes. The menu bar itself changes to an OS 9-style menu bar, including the OS 9 application menu and the traditional Apple Menu (Figure 8.6). Classic windows also don't take advantage of such Aqua features as transparency and live resizing.

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Figure 8.6: The menu bar for Tex-Edit Plus in OS X (top) and Classic (bottom)

Another area where you'll see significant differences between Classic and OS X application is Open/Save dialogs. Again, because Classic applications cannot take advantage of the Aqua interface, they use the older dialog boxes found in OS 9—either the standard modal dialogs that are not movable and force you to address them before doing anything else, or the newer Navigation Services dialogs that are only modal for the current application. Contrast these dialogs with OS X's dialogs, which are document specific (you can switch to any other application, or even other documents in the same application, when an Open/Save dialog is open).


Some applications that have been Carbonized for OS X will use OS 9-style dialogs if the developer did not choose to take advantage of Mac OS X's Aqua dialogs.

Application Launching

Although the process of launching Classic applications is nearly identical to the process of launching OS X applications, there are a couple of situations where the existence of the Classic Environment can throw a wrench in the process. The first is related to Carbon applications; the second has to do with having both a Classic and OS X version of the same application on your hard drive.

Launching Classic and Cocoa applications is simple; Classic applications launch in Classic and Cocoa applications launch in OS X. However, some Carbon applications—those that are not OS X-only—will actually launch in both OS X and OS 9. This presents an interesting challenge for your Mac. When you double-click on such an application, how does it know whether to launch in OS X or Classic? The answer is a simple setting in the application's Get Info window (Figure 8.7). By checking "Open in the Classic environment," the application will always open in Classic; unchecking the box will cause the app to open in OS X.

Figure 8.7: The Stata statistical package can be launched in either OS X or Classic.

The other anomaly can occur when you have both a Classic and OS X version of the same application on your Mac (for example, the e-mail client Microsoft Entourage). Assume for the moment that you've chosen Entourage as your preferred e-mail client in both Classic and OS X. If you click on a mail link in a Classic application, and the OS X version of Entourage is running, the URL will be opened (via a new e-mail message) in that version; however, if the OS X version isn't running, the mail link will be opened in the Classic version. This bug is due to the way in which Classic views OS X's application packages. As discussed in Chapter 7, an application package is actually a folder disguised as a single file. OS X understands this organizational trick, but Classic doesn't; it sees an application package as a folder. Thus when Classic needs to open a file in an application, if the application is already running, it works fine; however, if the application isn't running, sometimes Classic cannot "find" the OS X version. When this happens, Classic then looks for a Classic version of the application. The good news is that this is a fairly obscure bug—you need to have separate versions of an application on your hard drive with the OS X one not running, and then open a file or URL that is opened using that application. Mail clients and web browsers are the most common culprits.


Classic applications use their own preference files, located in either /Classic System Folder/ Preferences or ~/Library/Classic/Preferences (depending on the setting you've chosen in Classic preferences). Although this method of organization generally works well, there are two areas in which it can become confusing: when you have two versions of an application, one that runs in Classic and one that runs in OS X (or a Carbon application that can open in either one); and when you're dealing with networking and Internet preferences.

Many applications have both OS X and Classic versions. If for some reason you use both of these versions (for example, certain web pages seem to work better with the Classic version of Internet Explorer than the OS X version), keep in mind that the two use different preference files, so unless you set them up identically, they may behave differently (in fact, you may want them to behave differently, so this isn't necessarily a bad thing). Likewise, as mentioned above, some Carbon applications can run in either OS X or Mac OS 9, and will use a different preference file depending on the environment in which they're launched.

In terms of Internet and networking preferences, you'll remember that all Classic networking is tunneled through Mac OS X. This means that the settings you choose in the Network pane of OS X's System Preferences also apply to Classic. However, the Internet settings and behavior of Classic applications are not controlled by the settings in OS X's Internet preferences. Rather, Classic uses the settings in the Classic Internet control panel or InternetConfig utility. For example, both OS X's Internet preferences and the Classic Internet control panel have settings for your preferred web browser or e-mail client. If these settings are different, clicking on a URL or e-mail link in an application may produce different results depending on whether that application is a Classic or OS X application.

Using the Classic Apple Menu

When a Classic application is active (and the menu bar takes on the Classic Mac OS appearance), you can actually use the Classic Apple Menu just as you did in Mac OS 9. You can even customize it, just as you may have done under OS 9, by customizing the contents of /Classic System Folder/Apple Menu Items (if you don't have "User preferences from home folder" checked in Classic preferences) or ~/Library/Classic/Apple Menu Items (if you do). In fact, many people who are fond of the Classic Apple Menu keep a Classic application running at all times just so they can switch to it to access the Classic Apple Menu.

If you want a similar Apple Menu in OS X, or you'd prefer the ability to access it without switching to a Classic app, check out Appendix A for some solutions.

Printing in Classic

I discuss printing in OS X a bit later in the book (Chapter 12). However, printing is one of the few ways in which Classic has its own, independent, settings. As long as your printer is visible to the Classic Environment (meaning it's connected to a supported port or available via OS X's network connections), you use the Classic Chooser (located in the Apple Menu Items folder described above) to choose the printer, just as you would have done if you had booted into Mac OS 9. Unfortunately, OS 9's Desktop Printers are not supported by Classic, so you have to use the Classic PrintMonitor application (located at /Classic System Folder/Extensions/PrintMonitor) to monitor print jobs.


The fact that the OS 9 Chooser controls printing in Classic means that to print from Classic you need to install the appropriate OS 9 printer drivers.