Mac OS 9

This article is about the ninth release of the classic Mac OS. For version 10.9 of macOS (formerly OS X), see OS X Mavericks.
"OS 9" redirects here. For other uses, see OS9 (disambiguation).
Mac OS 9
A version of the classic Mac OS operating system

Screenshot of Mac OS 9.
Developer Apple Computer, Inc., later renamed Apple Inc.
OS family Macintosh
Working state Historic, not supported
Source model Closed source
Released to
October 23, 1999 (October 23, 1999)
Latest release 9.2.2 / December 5, 2001 (2001-12-05)[1]
Kernel type Nanokernel
License Proprietary
Preceded by Mac OS 8
Succeeded by

Mac OS X (10.0)

Mac OS X Public Beta
Official website N/A
Support status
Unsupported as of February 1, 2002

Mac OS 9 is the ninth and final major release of Apple's classic Mac OS operating system. Introduced on October 23, 1999, it was promoted by Apple as "The Best Internet Operating System Ever",[2] highlighting Sherlock 2's Internet search capabilities, integration with Apple's free online services known as iTools and improved Open Transport networking. While Mac OS 9 lacks protected memory and full pre-emptive multitasking,[3] lasting improvements include the introduction of an automated Software Update engine and support for multiple users.

Apple discontinued development of Mac OS 9 in 2001, transitioning all future development to OS X. Since that time, no updates have been released. The final updates to Mac OS 9 addressed compatibility issues with OS X while running in the Classic Environment and compatibility with Carbon applications. At the 2002 World Wide Developers Conference, Steve Jobs began his keynote address by staging a mock funeral for OS 9.[4]


Apple billed Mac OS 9 as including "50 New Features" and heavily marketed its Sherlock 2 software, which introduced a 'channels' feature for searching different online resources and introduced a QuickTime-like metallic appearance. Mac OS 9 also featured integrated support for Apple’s suite of Internet services known as iTools (later re-branded as .Mac, then MobileMe, which was replaced by iCloud) and included improved TCP/IP functionality with Open Transport 2.5.

Other features new to Mac OS 9 include:[5]

Mac OS 9 and the Classic Environment

Main article: Classic Environment

PowerPC versions of OS X prior to 10.5 include a compatibility layer (a shell) called Classic, enabling users to run applications and hardware requiring Mac OS 9 from within OS X. This is achieved through running Mac OS 9 without access to Finder inside OS X. This requires Mac OS 9 to be installed on the computer, even if computers that can run the Classic environment are not necessarily able to boot into Mac OS 9. Some Mac OS 9 applications do not run well in Classic. They demonstrate screen redraw problems and lagging performance. In addition, some drivers and other software which directly interact with the hardware fail to work properly.

In May 2002, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, Steve Jobs, accompanied by a coffin, held a mock funeral[4] to announce that Apple had stopped development of Mac OS 9. Mac OS 9.2.2, released in December 2001, was the final version of Mac OS 9 and the "classic" Mac OS. In June 2005, Jobs announced that the Macintosh platform would be transitioning to Intel x86 microprocessors. Developer documentation of the Rosetta PowerPC emulation layer revealed that applications written for Mac OS 8 or 9 would not run on x86-based Macs. The Classic Environment remains in the PowerPC version of OS X 10.4; however, x86 versions of OS X do not support the Classic environment.

As a workaround for Intel-based Macs, Mac OS 9 can be emulated up to version 9.0.4 by using SheepShaver, a PowerPC emulator. It cannot emulate above 9.0.4 because SheepShaver does not emulate a memory management unit. The PearPC PowerPC emulator does not support Mac OS 9.[7]


While Mac OS 9 is no longer supported by Apple, retail copies are still available from several Internet businesses at varying prices.

Although now classified as abandonware, as development on it has ended, it is still in use by those who cannot upgrade to OS X due to hardware limitations, or prefer it to OS X. Mac OS 9 is also a popular choice for retrocomputing hobbyists. Mac gamers also sometimes revert to Classic (often via emulation) or native OS 9 in order to play games that aren't supported on OS X; for example: Bugdom, Nanosaur, Oregon Trail, Civilization II, and the Marathon Trilogy.

Other uses

Aside from original Apple based hardware that is still maintained and operated, Mac OS 9 can be operated in other environments such as Windows and Unix.[8] For example, the aforementioned SheepShaver software was not designed for use on x86 platforms and required an actual PowerPC processor present in the machine it was running on similar to a hypervisor. Although it provides PowerPC processor support, it can only run up to Mac OS 9.0.4 because it does not emulate a memory management unit.

Version history

Version Release Date Changes Codename Computer Price
9.0 October 23, 1999 Initial release Sonata iMac G3 99 USD
9.0.2 February 2000

(Shipped with Macs)

Bug fixes. N/A PowerBook (FireWire) Only shipped with referred Macs
9.0.3 March 2000

(Shipped with Macs)

iMac/iMac DV/iMac DV SE
9.0.4 April 4, 2000 Improved USB and FireWire support.

Other bug fixes.

Minuet iMac G3 (slot loading) Free Update
9.1 January 9, 2001 Integrated Disc Burning within Finder.

Implementation of Finder 'Window' menu.

Improved stability.

Fortissimo iBook 14 inch and 12 inch
9.2 June 18, 2001

(Shipped with Macs)

G3 processor as minimum system requirement.

Improved speed and Classic Environment support.

Moonlight Power Mac G4 (QuickSilver) Only shipped with referred Macs
9.2.1 August 21, 2001 Minor bug fixes. Limelight iBook (Late 2001), PowerBook G4 (Gigabit Ethernet) Free Update
9.2.2 December 5, 2001 Bug fixes relating to Classic Environment. LU1 eMac

Updates to Mac OS 9 include 9.0.4, 9.1, 9.2.1, and 9.2.2. Mac OS 9.0.4 was a collection of bug fixes primarily relating to USB and FireWire support. Mac OS 9.1 included integrated CD burning support in the Macintosh Finder and added a new Window menu in the Finder for switching between open windows. Mac OS 9.2 increased performance noticeably and improved Classic Environment support. While Mac OS 9.2 is only officially supported on G3 Power Macs, it could still be installed on certain unsupported PowerPC models through the use of third-party software, such as Mac OS 9 Helper.


Macintosh Model 9.0[9] 9.1[9] 9.2.1[9] 9.2.2[9]
Power Macintosh 6100 Yes Yes: Must install from CD No
Power Macintosh 7100
Power Macintosh 8100
PowerBook 2300 Yes
PowerBook 2400c
PowerBook 5300
PowerBook 1400 Partial: Password Security unsupported
PowerBook 3400 Yes: Hard disk driver must not be updated
Power Macintosh 5200 Yes
Power Macintosh 5300
Power Macintosh 5500
Power Macintosh 4400
Power Macintosh 6200
Power Macintosh 6300
Power Macintosh 6400
Power Macintosh 6500
Power Macintosh 7200
Power Macintosh 7300
Power Macintosh 7500
Power Macintosh 8500
Power Macintosh 7600
Power Macintosh 8600
Power Macintosh 9600
Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh
PowerBook G3
PowerBook G3 Series Yes Yes
PowerBook (FireWire) Yes: Machine-specific version only
PowerBook G4[A] No Yes: Machine-specific version only
PowerBook G4 (Gigabit Ethernet)[A] No Yes: Machine-specific version only
PowerBook G4 (DVI)[A] No Yes: Machine-specific version only
PowerBook G4 (1 GHz/867 MHz)[A]
PowerBook G4 (12-inch)[B] Partial: Classic Environment only
PowerBook G4 (17-inch)[B]
PowerBook G4 (12-inch DVI)[B]
PowerBook G4 (12-inch 1.33 GHz)[B]
PowerBook G4 (12-inch 1.5 GHz)[B]
PowerBook G4 (15-inch FW 800)[B]
PowerBook G4 (15-inch 1.5/1.33 GHz)[B]
PowerBook G4 (17-inch 1.33 GHz)[B]
PowerBook G4 (17-inch 1.5 GHz)[B]
iBook Yes Yes Yes Yes
iBook (FireWire) Yes: Machine-specific version only
iBook (Dual USB)[A] No Yes: Machine-specific version only
iBook (Late 2001)[A]
iBook (14.1 LCD)[A] No Partial: Classic Environment only
iBook (16 VRAM)[A]
iBook (Opaque 16 VRAM)[A]
iBook (32 VRAM)[A]
iBook (14.1 LCD 32 VRAM)[A]
iBook (Early 2003)[A] Yes: Machine-specific version only
iBook G4[B] Partial: Classic Environment only
iBook G4 (14-inch)[B]
iBook G4 (Early 2004)[B]
Power Macintosh G3 All-In-One Yes
Power Macintosh G3
Power Macintosh G3 (Blue and White)
iMac G3
iMac G3 (266 MHz, 333 MHz)
iMac G3 (Slot Loading)
iMac G3 (Summer 2000) Yes: Machine-specific version only Yes Yes
iMac G3 (Early 2001)[A] No Yes: Machine-specific version only
iMac G3 (Summer 2001)[A]
iMac G4[A] No Yes
iMac G4 (February 2003)[B] Partial: Classic Environment only
iMac G4 (17-inch 1 GHz)[B]
iMac G4 (USB 2.0)[B]
eMac[A] Yes
eMac (ATI Graphics CD-ROM drive)[A] Yes: Machine-specific version only
eMac (ATI Graphics Combo drive)[A]
eMac (ATI Graphics SuperDrive)[B] Partial: Classic Environment only
Power Mac G4 (PCI Graphics) Yes Yes
Power Mac G4 (AGP Graphics)
Power Mac G4 (Gigabit Ethernet) Yes: Machine-specific version only
Power Mac G4 Cube
Power Mac G4 (Digital Audio)[A] No Yes: Machine-specific version only Yes
Power Mac G4 (QuickSilver)[A] No
Power Mac G4 (QuickSilver 2002)[A] No Yes: Machine-specific version only
Power Mac G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors)[A]
Power Mac G4 (FW 800)[B] Partial: Classic Environment only
Power Mac G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors 2003)[A] Yes: Machine-specific version only
Power Mac G5 Partial: Classic Environment only
Power Mac G5 (June 2004)
Power Mac G5 (Late 2004)
Power Mac G5 (Early 2005)
Power Mac G5 (Late 2005)
Mac mini (G4)[B]
  1. 1Some newest G3 and most G4 Macs can only run at least Mac OS 9.1, and some only run at least Mac OS 9.2. This is because the late development of G3 Macs and the mid-development of G4 Macs was during the development of Mac OS 9 and only the versions the G4 Macs support were designed to compatible with those G4 Macs.
  2. 1Some newest G4 and all G5 Macs can only run at least Mac OS 9.2, and can only run its compatible versions of Mac OS 9 in OS X's Classic Environment because the "Mac OS ROM" was never updated to allow those Macs, which were developed during the OS X era, to directly boot it (but probably continued to run in userspace, with the restriction that it would only run at least Mac OS 9.2, so it was still supported in the Classic Environment).

See also


  2. "October 23, 1999: Mac OS 9 Released". Retrieved 2009-11-28.
  3. "Re: newbie question: What is a Blue Task". Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  4. 1 2 "Apple WWDC 2002-The Death Of Mac OS 9". Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  5. "MacHelp What's New in Mac OS 9". Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  6. "Mac OS 9: What's New - Speakable Items". Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  7. "Frequently Asked Questions". PearPC Developers. Retrieved 2006-11-16.
  8. "E-Maculation wiki". Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  9. 1 2 3 4 "Mac OS 8 and 9 compatibility with Macintosh computers". Apple Inc. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
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