MacWorld Mac OS 8 Bible

MacWorld Mac OS 8 Bible

by Lon Poole, Chau

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MacWorld Mac OS 8 Bible by Lon Poole, Chau

Mac® OS 8 is the upgrade you've been waiting for: greater stability, better performance, and a handful of interface enhancements that make a famously user-friendly operating system even easier to use. Now, in Macworld Mac OS 8 Bible, veteran computing author and Mac expert Lon Poole offers a complete, authoritative guide to getting the most out of Mac OS 8. Whether you're a long-time Mac user or are trying it out for the first time, you'll find information you can put to use right away. Poole shows you everything from how to customize the look and feel of Mac OS 8 to how to use the new, improved version of the Extensions Manager control panel. You'll also find out how to make sure your existing applications, networking configuration, and hardware all work smoothly under Mac OS 8.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780764540363
Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/01/1997
Edition description: MACWORLD A
Pages: 912
Product dimensions: 7.38(w) x 9.27(h) x 2.14(d)

First Chapter

Mac Resource Center

Macworld Mac OS8 Bible What's Special in Mac OS 8

Excerpted from Macworld Mac OS 8 Bible
by Lon Poole


Macintosh OS 8 brings more changes to the Mac system software than any version since System 7.5. Some of the changes are very obvious, such as the look of windows, icons, and other interface elements. More changes come to light as you start using Mac OS 8. It's easier to work with disks and their contents using collapsible windows, pop-up windows, view options for each window, spring-loaded folders, contextual menus, and sticky menus to name a few.

What's more, Mac OS 8 comes with far more software for accessing the Internet than any previous version of the Mac system software. For starters, a setup assistant program leads you through the confusing process of getting the computer ready to use the Internet for the first time. You also get top-notch programs for sending and receiving e-mail, browsing the Web, and publishing a simple Web site from your own computer.

This chapter gives you an overview of the improvements that Mac OS 8 brings to the Mac system software. After reading this chapter, be sure to look at the next two chapters for overviews of features and capabilities that Mac OS 8 shares with earlier system software versions.


If you've ever seen a Mac before, you can't help noticing that Mac OS 8 looks different from earlier system software versions. This section previews the first redesign of the Mac OS interface since 1991.

Platinum Appearance

There's a lot less pasty white and a lot more of a cool gray glow in the platinum appearance of Mac OS 8. The menu bar, menus themselves, and the background color of many windows have all acquired a platinum tan. Buttons, pop-up menus, checkboxes, radio buttons, and other controls have also gone platinum.

In addition, the platinum appearance has more finely wrought three-dimensional shading than the previous look. You can see 3D shading in the menu bar and menus, but nowhere is it more evident than in the restyled controls and window borders. Many icons also got a 3D facelift in Mac OS 8.

If you look closely at the menus and window titles, you'll notice that Mac OS 8 normally uses a different system font. It's called Charcoal, and you do have the option of reverting to the Chicago font used since 1984.

The platinum appearance also involves the use of an accent color for menu highlighting and scroll boxes.

Control Panel Appearance

You can fine-tune some aspects of the platinum appearance with the Appearance control panel. It gives you a choice of accent colors, text highlight color, and system font. In addition, you can turn off the platinum appearance in applications that don't use it explicitly. If you don't turn it off, the Mac OS applies the platinum appearance system wide. Figure 1-1 shows some of the options in the Appearance control panel.

appear.gif - 14.32 K
Figure 1-1: Set appearance options in the Appearance control panel.

Desktop picture or pattern

Nothing affects the look of the screen like the desktop's background. Mac OS 8 gives you a wider choice of background patterns than ever before, and it lets you cover the pattern with a picture. You select a pattern or a picture with the Desktop Pictures control panel.

Ease of Use

There's more to Mac OS 8 than its sleek platinum appearance. It's also loaded with improved features and capabilities that make it easier to use than earlier system software versions.

Working with Windows

Many windows in Mac OS 8 have controls not present in earlier system software. One of these is the collapse box, which you click to hide all of a window except its title bar and click again to expand the window. The collapse box sits at the far right end of a window title bar, bumping the zoom box to the left. You can still collapse and expand a window by double-clicking its title bar, although you have the option of disabling that action.

Another control not present prior to Mac OS 8 is the window frame, which you can drag with the mouse to move the window. It does the same job as the title bar, effectively giving you a bigger handle to grab and drag.

Viewing Folder and Disk Contents

In Mac OS 8, you change the view of a folder or disk window with a revamped View menu. You can choose to view files and folders as icons, buttons, or a list of names and other facts. If you're viewing icons or buttons, you can choose View menu commands that clean them up by aligning them to an invisible grid or that arrange them by name, date, kind, and so on. If you're viewing a list, you can sort it by those same criteria.

Button Views

If you choose "as Buttons" from the View menu, you see files and folders represented by square buttons. You open a button by clicking it once, drag it by its name, and select it by dragging across it. Figure 1-2 shows an example of a folder window viewed as buttons.

button.gif - 6.37 K

Figure 1-2: View files and folders as buttons, and open one by clicking it once.

Pop-up Windows

You can make a pop-up window from a regular window by choosing "as Pop-up Window" from the View menu.

By choosing "as Pop-up Window" from the View menu, you anchor a window at the bottom of the screen and change its title bar into a tab. Clicking the tab at the top of a window closes it and leaves the tab at the bottom of the screen. Clicking a tab at the bottom of the screen makes the window pop up from there.

View Options

By choosing View Options from the View menu, you can adjust several aspects of a window's appearance. For a window viewed as icons or buttons, you can select an icon or button size and a forced arrangement. You can force icons or buttons to always snap to a grid when you move them or you can keep them arranged by name, date, and so on. If you select any of the forced arrangement options, a small icon in the upper left corner of the window indicates which arrangement is in force.

For a window viewed as a list, you can select an icon size, select which columns to show, specify whether to take the time to calculate folder sizes, and specify whether to display relative dates such as "today" and "yesterday." You can also display a Date Created column in Mac OS 8 (which you couldn't do in earlier system software versions).

Note that unlike the Views control panel it mostly replaces, the View Options command adjusts each window or the desktop individually.

Finder Preferences

The Finder in Mac OS 8 has a Preferences command that you can use to set appearance and behavior options for all Finder icons and windows. For the first time in any Finder, you can simplify the menus to see just the essential commands. You can also configure spring-loaded opening of folders and disks (as described next). Other options replace similar options formerly found in the Views and Labels control panels. Figure 1-3 shows the Finder Preferences dialog box.

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Figure 1-3: Set appearance and behavior options for all Finder icons and windows with the Preferences command.

Spring-loaded Opening

You no longer have to do a lot of double-clicking to travel through layers of folders in the Finder. Disks and folders spring open when you pause briefly over them with the mouse button held down. This behavior comes in handy when you're moving or copying items to a folder that's buried inside other folders. You can also make a disk or folder spring open by clicking it one-and-a-half times (like double-clicking, but hold down the mouse button on the second click). As long as you keep pressing the mouse button, you can open any folder or disk by pausing over its icon. You can adjust the delay factor with the Finder Preferences command.

Contextual Menus

Mac OS 8 brings menu commands closer to hand with contextual menus. You see a contextual menu of commands that can affect an icon, a window, or some text in the Finder when you press the Ctrl key while clicking the object. If you Ctrl-click a group of selected items, the contextual menu lists commands that pertain to all of them. Figure 1-4 shows an example of a contextual menu.

context.gif - 3.43 K

Figure 1-4: See a contextual menu by
Ctrl-clicking an icon, a window, or some
text in the Finder.

Sticky Menus

When you open any menu on the Mac OS 8 menu bar, or any contextual or pop-up menu, it stays open even if you release the mouse button. You can then choose a menu item by clicking it, or you can open a different menu by moving the pointer to the menu title. The menu goes away if you click outside it or if you don't move the mouse for 15 seconds. You can also operate menus the old way, by holding down the mouse button.

File Menu Commands

The Finder's File menu has some additional commands in Mac OS 8, and several of them have useful keyboard shortcuts. The Move To Trash command disposes of items you have selected. The Show Original command locates an alias's original item and brings it into view in the window that contains it. You use the commands in the Label command to apply a colored label to the items you have selected (like the Labels menu prior to Mac OS 8). In addition, the Sharing command's window is improved.

Networking and the Internet

Mac OS 8 goes a lot further than previous system software versions in helping you get connected to the Internet and access Internet services. This section gives you an overview of what Mac OS 8 provides.

Setting Up

Setting up an Internet connection can be an incredible nightmare, but not if you use the Internet Setup Assistant program that comes with Mac OS 8. It interviews you to get the necessary information and then makes all the control panel settings behind the scenes. You don't have to open the control panels to get started, although you can always tweak them later.


Exchange electronic mail with people around the world or across the street by using any of the three e-mail programs that come with Mac OS 8. More people use the Internet for sending and receiving e-mail than any other purpose. Claris Emailer Lite is the best of the bunch, although you can also use the e-mail capabilities of Netscape Navigator or Cyberdog if you prefer.

Web Browsing

It may not be as utilitarian as e-mail, but the World Wide Web is the flashiest part of the Internet. You can view text, pictures, and movies and hear sounds from Web sites around the world with the Web browser programs you get with Mac OS 8. Netscape Navigator is part of a standard installation of Mac OS 8, and you can also install Cyberdog along with it.

As a bonus, Microsoft Internet Explorer comes on the installation CD-ROM, but you have to install it separately. With any of these Web browsers you can seek out information that's published on the Web. Alternatively, you can use Castanet Tuner and the PointCast Network to receive information that's broadcast over the Web, so you don't have to find it on your own. Both Castanet Tuner and the PointCast Network are bonus items Mac OS 8 CD-ROM, meaning you have to install them after installing the system software.

Connect To

Mac OS 8 includes a bare-bones program, Connect To, for quickly accessing any Internet site whose URL (Uniform Resource Locator) you know. You choose Connect To from the Apple menu, type or paste the URL, and click the Connect button.

Personal Web Sharing

The Personal Web Sharing software included with Mac OS 8 makes it easy to host a Web site on your computer. You place your prepared Web pages in the Web Pages folder on your startup disk and click the Start button in the Web Sharing control panel. While you're connected to the Internet, anyone with an Internet connection and a Web browser can see your pages. The Web browser can be running on any kind of computer or even on an Internet connection device that hooks up to a TV. If you're connected to an intranet (TCP/IP network), anyone on the intranet can see your pages with a Web browser running on any kind of computer.

Mac OS Runtime for Java

Your computer can run programs written in the popular Java programming language with the Mac OS Runtime for Java software that's part of a standard installation of Mac OS 8. Small Java programs called applets are often embedded in Web pages to make the pages more interesting or useful. When you view a Web page with an embedded Java applet, the applet runs automatically. You can also run Java applets outside of Web browsers. The Apple Applet Runner is an application program that runs Java applets, and the Apple Applet Viewer is an OpenDoc part that lets you put Java applets in an OpenDoc document. Both are included with Mac OS Runtime for Java.


This chapter introduced the platinum appearance of Mac OS 8, which is accompanied by a wider variety of desktop patterns and the ability to cover the pattern with a desktop picture. In addition, this chapter previewed what makes Mac OS 8 easier to use than earlier system software versions.

You also got an overview in this chapter of what Mac OS 8 provides for getting connected to the Internet and accessing Internet services. Finally, you can run Java applets that are embedded in Web pages and run Java programs outside Web pages with the Mac OS Runtime for Java software.

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