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An introduction to Macintosh's System 7.0.


An Apple librarian offers advice on Mac's latest system software.

The release of System 7.0 is considered a "significant advance in ease of use and functionality" by many in die technology trade press. My bias as an Apple employee and System 7.0 user definitely impact on the perspective presented here. I readily admit that I like System 7.0.

The intent of this article is to provide an overview of System 7.0 and to cover some its capabilities. I will also offer some tips on upgrading to System 7.0 and address compatibility, security, and copyright issues.

Basic Questions

Now that 7.0 is shipping and the reactions from the press and early users are coming in, you may be asking yourself some of the following questions.

What Does System 7.0 Require to Run on My Macintosh?

System 7.0 requires a minimum of 2MB of RAM (random access memory) and a hard drive.' If you own a Macintosh Plus, Classic, SE, SE/30, Portable, LC, II, IIcx, IIsi, IIci, or IIfx, with the minimum configuration just mentioned, you can run System 7.0. If you have a Macintosh 128K, 512K, or 512K Enhanced, you will need to upgrade to at least a Macintosh Plus (a Macintosh Plus Logic Board Kit and Macintosh Disk Drive Kit need to be added). There are some new features in System 7.0, such as virtual memory and 32-bit addressing, that require specific hardware functionality. In these cases, you also will need to have a 68030 microprocessor or 68020 microprocessor with a 68851 PMMU (Paged Memory Management Unit) coprocessor chip.

What's New or Better in System 7.0 That I Can't Have with Earlier Versions of Macintosh System Software?

Experienced Macintosh users will appreciate the improved power of Finder 7.0, TrueType outline fonts, File Sharing, Aliases, Balloon Help, Publish & Subscribe, Virtual Memory, and many others. Do I Have to Upgrade to 7.0 Because It Makes My Version of System Software Obsolete? No. Versions of 6.0.X2 system software were not made obsolete by System 7.0. Unless you want or need some of the new features available in 7.0, there is no need to change.

How Do I Upgrade to 7.0 in a Networked Environment Without Disrupting Others?

System 7.0 was designed to work harmoniously on local area networks that have both system 7.0 and 6.0.X users. The only requirement is that all users on the network upgrade their printer drivers to the latest version that ships with 7.0 so that LaserWriters are not constantly reinitialized. (System 6.0.X users will not notice any difference in printing.) In fact, 7.0 is even designed to allow 6.0.X users to access 7.0 machines offering file sharing services.

Are There Any Problems in Upgrading to System 7.0?

Software compatibility is your greatest problem and worry. Some Apple and third-party products currently are not compatible with 7.0. You might experience some minor problems or serious incompatibility issues with specific products. As upgrades for System 7.0 are released by developers, this problem will disappear. In the meantime, you should be cautious about upgrading until you have evaluated your Macintosh's set-up with Apple's Compatibility Checker.

How Do I Obtain System 7.0 When I Am Ready to Upgrade?

You can purchase an upgrade kit from your authorized Apple dealer. Two upgrade kits are offered:

Personal ($99) - offering System 7.0 on eight 800K disks, the Compatibility Checker, HyperCard 2.1, manuals, ninety days of toll-free assistance, etc.

Group ($349) - additionally offers System 7.0 on a CD-ROM set-up disc for network installation, electronic versions of the 7.0 reference manuals, 180 days of toll-free support, etc.

Alternatively, you can obtain a free copy of System 7.0 from a licensed distributor or from a friend. Technical support then can be obtained on a "cost-perquestion" basis by contacting Apple's System 7.0 AnswerLine at 1-900-535APPL, or you can call Apple's automated Q&A system at 408-257-7700.

What's New, What's Hot? The changes in System 7.0 are both elegant and exciting. Let's take a brief tour around Finder 7.0's desktop:

* The System Folder has been restructured.

* Views of your desktop now can be customized. Fonts used in windows and for icons are user-selectable, and the way icons are positioned on the desktop can be modified as well. When you view the contents of a window in a list, you also can see the contents within each folder if desired.

The Balloon Help Menu is signified by the small balloon holding a question mark.

* The Applications Menu, found at the far right of the Menu Bar, allows you to move easily from one open application to another. The application that is active is signified in a number of ways, including the check mark next to it in the menu. (System 6.0.X MultiFinder users will be familiar with the capabilities of this Menu.)

A new menu called Label allows any item on the desktop to be given a specific label - even a color. Defaults include: Hot, In-progress, etc.

Other Features

* The Font/DA Mover is gone.

* There are new commands for the File Menu, include Sharing, Make Alias, and Find.

* Opening and saving documents is easier.

* The Trash Can will only empty when you ask it to do so, and can be set to ask for verification every time.

* Pop-up menus are now available by holding the Shift-CMD key while clicking on the title of any window in the Finder. The system win display a pop-up menu showing the hierarchy of the folders related to the one you have open, including subfolders. You then can select any folder displayed in that menu.

When viewing the contents of a Finder Window in a list, you can select multiple items by dragging the cursor after selecting the first item desired. Also, if you have selected one item to move beyond the current boundaries of the window, simply drag the item, and the window will automatically scroll.

The finder level Stationary feature provides an easy way to have a "tear-off" template for documents, memos, forms, etc.

A More Detailed Look

No Font/DA Mover

Font/DA Mover served its purpose fairly well in previous versions of system software, but I'm sure that most users often wished they could just drag a new font or desk accessory into the Mac's system folder and immediately begin using it. Well, with System 7.0. simply drag new accessories, fonts, or any other system "extension" onto the system folder. Not only does the system estimate where the new item belongs (i.e., control panels vs. extensions), it will place the item in the correct location when permission is granted. The item is also immediately available - no rebooting is necessary ! New System Folders

Since Font/DA Mover is now obsolete, the system folder has been restructured. New folders have been created to hold control panels, sounds, fonts, inits, etc., au of which respect the double-click principle.

Control Panels: Just drag any Control Panel device, such as SCSIProbe, into this folder, and installation is complete! To make a change in any Control Panel device, just double-click on it.

Apple, Menu Item: You may add any item you wish to the Apple Menu, including Aliases of frequently accessed applications or servers. You can have up to fifty-two items in the Apple Menu now.

Extensions: Here is where most of your inits now reside. Installing them is also as simple as dragging them onto the System folder or Extensions folder.

Start-up items: Place items in this folder that you want launched at start-UP - applications, documents, templates, DAs, etc.

Remember: you can double-click any device to make changes, and most changes take immediate effect. You also can see a font or hear a sound just by double-clicking on it within the System file.


The Find command has been greatly improved, allowing for very specific or general searches. If you choose to refine your search, you can specify whether the item you are looking for contains/doesn't contain, ends with/starts with a particular word or set of words.

You also can search by name, size, label, comments, etc., and can choose to have afl the likely candidates gathered and presented together or found one-by-one. The best part of Find, however, is the fact that it takes you directly to any item matching the search specification.

Balloon Help

The features of the Balloon Help Menu are a new and welcome addition at the desktop in 7.0. Balloon Help easily can be added to any software program by developers, so expect to see it appear in upgrades or new software products.

Basically, if one chooses "Show Balloons" from the Balloon Help Menu, then every item that the cursor touches at the desktop will briefly explain itself with a sentence or two in a pop-up, cartoon-like "balloon." While this will be helpful to any Mac user faced with new software, new users unfamiliar with the desktop will especially appreciate this level of support.

A new user will be able to point to a nonactive window on the desktop, and the "balloon" will tell them that it is a nonactive window as well as how to make it active. You will find that new programs like 7.0-compatible Canvas 3.0 from Deneba Software already support the new Balloon Help.


An Alias can be thought of as a proxy for any item that is accessible on your Macintosh - a file, application, file server, etc.

When you initiate the new Make Alias command from the File Menu, an Alias will be created for any item currently highlighted on the desktop. An Alias appears as an italicized copy of the original item. It represents the original and remembers its location, yet takes only 2K of space on your hard drive. Here are some of the ways an Alias can be used:

1. Make an Alias of an application that you use frequently. Put the Alias in your Apple Menu Folder (within the System folder). Every time you select that Alias from the Apple Menu, you will launch the application without having to open all the folders to reach it.

2. Make an Alias of a server that you access frequently and either keep it on your desktop, in your Apple Menu, or elsewhere. When you select or double-click the Alias, you will mount the server (normal password log-in options are fully supported). This is as good, if not better, than QuickMount ! 3. Make an Alias of your own hard drive, and put it on a floppy disk. Take that floppy disk to any other Macintosh on your local area network, insert it in the floppy drive and double-click the Alias - you will automatically mount your own hard drive, which appears as a server volume on the desktop.

File Sharing

File Sharing allows you to make folders available to any user within your network environment, with or without password access. Even users who have not upgraded to 7.0 can access "shared" files on your drive since the access is a feature of your system and not theirs.

File sharing operates very much like AppleShare, but it allows individual users to make a selected part of their drive available without turning the machine into a dedicated server. This feature will be very exciting for those users whose work group cannot afford dedicated servers but still need that level of functionality.

File sharing is controlled by first initiating Program Linking in the Sharing Setup control panel and selecting an owner password for yourself. Users and groups to whom you give specific access can be detailed in the Users & Groups control panel.

For example, you may wish to designate library staff members to have access to a folder on your hard drive, but no other networked users (i.e., patrons). The folder that you designate for sharing with staff members will be shown on your desktop with a network connection symbol to remind you that it is "shared."

TrueType Outline Fonts

TrueType outline fonts are sharp, high-quality, fast screen display fonts that also print beautifully. Up to now it has been difficult to get a screen or print version of any font in odd or very large sizes unless you possessed a bit-mapped version of the exact size you desired. No matter what size you choose, TrueType fonts quickly calculate and beautifully scale to the correct size on the screen and printed page without having to invoke "font smoothing." System 7.0 currently ships with eight TrueType fonts including Times, New York, and Symbol. You can expect many more to follow, especially from third-party developers.

TrueType, bit-mapped, PostScript and Adobe Type Manager fonts are all supported and work well together in System 7.0.

Open File/Save File

In previous versions of Macintosh system software, if you needed to open or save a document, and it involved a drive other than your active drive, you had to click on the Drive button to cycle through the available drives. With System 7.0, the Drive button has been replaced with a Desktop button that quickly displays all the available drives for fast selection.


Stationary refers to the ability to make a document or template into a permanent item that cannot be overwritten and that automatically makes a copy of itself when double-clicked. You can easily make any document or template Stationary by selecting "Stationary" in the item's Get Info window. Because the Stationary function is supported at the Finder level in System 7.0, you can use this feature even with applications that do not support this format yet. Stationary will soon become a selectable format when saving documents or templates.

Interapplication Communication (IAC)

IAC provides a new set of communication capabilities that allows for unique cooperation between applications. IAC will become more commonly available as developers begin to release IAC-compatible versions of their software, but currently there are very few applications that support IAC features. The two main features of IAC are Publish & Subscribe and AppleEvents:

Publish & Subscribe: Publish & Subscribe allows for network links between documents. For example, a monthly progress report may be edited by a manager, but often the subcommittee reports contain the actual data. With Publish & Subscribe, that manager might design a monthly report that Subscribes to the subcommittee reports. Each month the subcommittees would Publish their reports on their own machines and the manager's final monthly report would update itself across the network. Even though there might still be some editorial work to be done, there is great potential for saving time and effort.

AppleEvents: AppleEvents allows for even greater control between programs. AppleEvents is designed to let a program control one or more other programs in the network. For example, a patron might be browsing through your library's serials database via a front end that is actually a forms program. As the user fills out a request form to add their name to the TOC list for several journals, JAC's AppleEvents could transparently allow the user's name to be entered directly into the appropriate field in the serials database. Users would never have direct access, but their data could be automatically leveraged. This capability will allow software developers to cooperate, leveraging strengths from others, leaving them to specialize in what they do best.

Virtual Memory

Virtual memory is the ability to add additional, large amounts of RAM to your Macintosh without having to purchase additional hardware by using available space on your hard drive. Your Macintosh thinks that this storage space is actually within the operating system and will use it for program files requiring large amounts of RAM. This memory can be temporary, as you can turn virtual memory off and on. You also can change the amount of space allotted as well as the drive.

32-Bit Addressing

32-bit addressing means that you can install and access more than 8 megabytes of physical RAM in your Mac. Any Mac using System 7.0 with a 68030 microprocessor (or 68020 with a 68851 chip) can access the 4-gigabyte memory range available in the 68030 when combined with virtual memory. Most program written previously only take advantage of 24 bits, which limits the amount of memory accessible by your Macintosh to 8 megabytes.

This is also a compatibility issue, since using 32-bit addressing with programs written for a 24-bit environment can, and probably will, cause some strange experiences. As developers begin releasing 32-bit software, this problem will disappear.

Upgrade Tips

It is best to use the Compatibility Checker before attempting to upgrade to 7.0. The Compatibility Checker will determine the number of potentially incompatible products on your Macintosh before you begin installation. (By potentially compatible" I mean that if the Compatibility Checker cannot truly determine that a product is compatible, it will advise that caution or an upgrade is necessary.) I have found that many software products operate fairly well under 7.0, despite the caution advised by the Compatibility Checker. However, I was careful to slowly add applications and inits back into the system one by one.

Make a full bark-up of your hard drive before you begin installation, as a precaution. It is also advisable to remove most inits, cdevs, etc. that you seldom use, adding them back into System 7.0 one by one. Again, this method is very useful for determining exactly which ones will be compatible. Remove all your virus protection software before proceeding as well. Finally, if you use an init manager, be sure to turn all your inits "on" before installing, or you will lose some.

If you need inits or "system extensions" that do not seem to work properly in System 7.0, try making an Alias of the item. Then move the Alias of the item outside the Extensions folder, but still within the System Folder. We have found that some older inits are not used to being buried within another folder, and the Alias method usually helps until an upgrade is available.

Future Concerns

Security will become a crucial issue as more users have access to information, or some of us forget about passwords. Libraries may be victims of file vandalism" if proper password protection is not used. A careless user also might leave a password-protected volume they have mounted on a machine that has some public access and forget about it.

Copyright is of particular concern to librarians, and we are probably more sensitive to this issue than most. It is quite likely that we win discover network users using File Share to share not only their files, but also applications. It will be up to us to gently guide users toward proper use of copyrighted software and to provide a proper example.


This brief introduction to System 7.0 barely brushed the surface of its features and capabilities. I encourage everyone to find a Macintosh running System 7.0 (try your local dealer) and begin exploring.


1. Although 2MB of RAM is the minimum configuration necessary, you will experience better performance with 4MB of RAM or more. This is because System 7.0 will use most of the 2MB, leaving you with very little for applications.

2. 6.0.X is used to signify various versions of 6.0 system software (i.e., 6.0.5, 6.0.7, etc.)
COPYRIGHT 1991 Information Today, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:new operating system for Macintosh computers
Author:Vratny-Watts, Janet
Publication:Computers in Libraries
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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