Control Panels

A control panel is usually resident in the Control Panels folder. It can be used to adjust the settings of your Mac computer and frequently provides extra facilities. A panel can be enabled by moving it into the Control Panels folder and selecting Special ➡ Restart.

Installing and Using Panels

The Mac OS Installer provides a complete set of Apple’s standard panels, together with an alias of the Control Panels folder in the Apple Menu Items folder. The Custom Install option in the Installer also lets you install individual panels.

Installers for other application can also add extra panels, while others can be installed manually by dragging them onto the System Folder, after which you’ll see a dialogue asking you to confirm that you want to install the panel. Alternatively, you can drag the new panel directly into the Control Panels folder, inside the System Folder.

Some panels are actually applications, which means that can be used outside of the Control Panels folder. Many of the panels in Mac OS 9.x are of this type, as well as Desktop Patterns, General Controls, Keyboard, Map, Memory, Monitors, Mouse, Numbers, Sound, Startup Disk and Text in earlier systems, in addition to Color, Labels and Views in Mac OS 7.x.

Panels in the Classic Environment of Mac OS X

Many of the panels provided with Mac OS 9.x can’t be used in the Classic environment of Mac OS X. These include AppleTalk, ColorSync, Control Strip, DialAssist, Energy Saver, File Exchange, File Sharing, Infrared, Keychain Access, Location Manager, Map, Memory, Modem, Monitors, Mouse, Multiple Users, Password Security, PowerBook SCSI Disk Mode, Remote Access, Software Update, Sound, Startup Disk, TCP/IP, Trackpad, USB Printer Sharing and Web Sharing.

Those panels that do operate within the Classic environment include Appearance, Apple Menu Options, Date & Time, Extensions Manager, General Controls, Keyboard, Numbers and Text, as well as the optional ATM panel.

Panel Settings

Changes to a panel’s settings sometimes have an immediate effect, although in some cases you may have to close the panel before anything happens. Important changes, such as adjustments to the Memory panel, don’t take effect until you’ve selected Special ➡ Restart.

When some types of panel are disabled you’re usually prevented from changing the settings, although in a few instances your original preferences may be retained in a separate file inside the Preferences folder or stored inside the System file itself, in which case other software can still use them. But if the setting are kept inside the panel itself they will be lost until the panel is once more enabled.

INITs and Conflicts

Some control panels contain INIT resources that modify the system at startup. These can increase the amount of memory used by the OS and result in a conflict with other panels or extensions.

INIT resources usually add extra features, such as the menubar clock provided by the Date & Time control panel: this disappears if you disable the panel and select Special ➡ Restart.

Managing Control Panels

Control panels and extensions can be enabled or disabled using an extensions management utility, of which the most common is Extensions Manager, which is supplied as a control panel with the Mac OS. This moves files between the Control Panels folder and the Control Panels (Disabled) folder in the System Folder and lets you save your selected files as a set, .

Standard Control Panels

The following list gives details for the control panels provided in Mac OS 8.6 through to Mac OS 9.1, although the actual files used vary with the computer model. The four-character file type codes are shown for reference. For further details you should refer to The InformInit (D E Frakes).

PowerBook Display cdev

This panel, which is only provided in Mac OS 8.x, lets you display images on an external monitor with some PowerBook models. The space at the beginning of the panel’s name shouldn’t be removed since this ensures that it loads early during startup.

601 Processor Upgrade cdev

This panel, only provided in Mac OS 8.x, lets you select a startup processor in a 68040 Mac fitted with a Processor Upgrade Card containing a PowerPC 601. Either processor can use the RAM disk.

Appearance APPC

This replaces the Colour and WindowShade panels provided in Mac OS 7.x. It works with the Appearance Extension in Mac OS 8.x to create the Platinum appearance introduced with this system, although such an appearance is optional for applications other than the Finder.

The Highlight Color pop-up in the Appearance tab lets you select a colour for highlighted text. If you click on Other you can use a colour picker. You should avoid using black as this makes it difficult to distinguish between icons that are simply selected or whose names are being edited.

In the Desktop section you can select a PICT, GIF, JPEG or Photoshop image as a Desktop background. Ideally, this should match the screen size, such as 640 × 480 pixels for a 14" monitor. You can also drag a required image (or part of one from another application) onto the panel’s mini-desktop or drag an entire folder of images for random pictures. To remove an image you can drag it from the mini-desktop to the Trash or simply click on Remove Picture.

Apple Menu Options APPC cdev

This provides hierarchical menus in the Apple menu, including Recent Documents, Recent Applications and Recent Servers, the latter only useful when operating on a network. On older machines it’s best set this up to show around 15 recent items.

Since the Recent Documents feature records the files opened by each application, it can slow down the speed of launching applications on older Macs. You can avoid this problem by disabling Recent Documents in the Apple Menu Options or by disabling the entire panel. The latter should be considered if you find that it clashes with other extensions or applications.

AppleTalk cdev

This lets you select connection ports, configurations, passwords, addresses and zones in an Open Transport AppleTalk network, replacing the Network panel used for Classic AppleTalk in OS 7.x.

On a typical ‘classic’ machine you can select Ethernet, Infrared Port (IrDA), Modem Port, Printer Port or Remote Only. The latter is only available if the Remote Only extension is enabled and is usually only required if you’re employing Remote Access software.

Auto Power On/Off cdev

This panel, only provided in Mac OS 8.x, automatically turns a 680x0 model on or off at set dates or times, with an optional warning before shut down, or gives a restart after a loss of power. It only works on machines that have a keyboard Power button, but not with the PowerBook 500 series. On PowerPC-based machines these functions are provided by the Energy Saver panel application.

AutoRemounter cdev

Another panel only provided in Mac OS 8.x, this time for reinstating access to a network when a computer, usually of the PowerBook variety, has gone to sleep or when it’s initially powered. If you select Special ➡ Shut Down whilst files are open you’ll be given a warning.

Cache Switch cdev

This panel, only used in older systems, lets you disable the 68040 processor cache, as fitted in the old Quadra, Centris or Performa 400/500 models, so as to improve compatibility with some applications. You must select Special ➡ Restart to make the changes effective.

CloseView cdev

An optional panel in some versions of the Mac OS that can magnify the screen image for those with limited eyesight, but only at original resolution. Unfortunately, this panel uses lots of memory.

You can temporarily turn CloseView on or off by pressing -Option-O and you can adjust the magnification by pressing -Option-+ or -Option--.

ColorSync APPC cdev

This lets you set up accurate colour matching between your monitor and printer. For this to work the ColorSync extension must be in the Extensions folder and the ColorSync Profiles folder must be in the System Folder (or Preferences folder in older versions of the system).

Control Strip APPC cdev

This panel provides a control strip along one edge of the screen, using a display font as selected in the panel. The modules for this strip are kept inside the Control Strip Modules inside the System Folder. In older versions of the system, any modules added to this folder only become active after you have selected Special ➡ Restart. Alternatives to Control Strip, such as Drag Strip or Extension Strip, allow you to add modules without restarting.

Date & Time APPC cdev

This lets you change the presentation of dates or times in all applications and also provides the invaluable clock in the menubar. Note that older versions of this panel only accept dates in the years from 1920 to 2019 to ensure compatibility with System 6.

Clearing the PRAM in Mac OS 9.1 can remove the panel’s geographical location and daylight saving settings. The clock then indicates correctly but is out of step with the time recorded on each file, resulting in confusion when using a file synchronisation application. To avoid this problem, you should check the settings in the control panel after clearing the PRAM.

DialAssist cdev

Sets phone number options for the Remote Access control panel or Apple’s older Remote Access Client application. City/Area Code should contain the prefix used in your country to reach your area. Your own country should be selected in the Country, the countries and codes for dialling to and from each country being determined by clicking on the Country button at the bottom of the window.

The Prefix, Long Distance Access and Suffix menus in the central pane contain selections that can be modified using the corresponding buttons at the bottom of the window.

Easy Access cdev

An optional panel, this time for helping those who have physical difficulties with operating a keyboard or mouse. It lets you, for example, use the keyboard to move the position of the pointer.

Energy Saver APPC

This panel application only works on a PCI-based PowerPC and requires the Energy Saver Extension in the Extensions folder. It replaces the older Auto Power On/Off panel, CPU Energy Saver panel and the original Energy Saver panel, which had a type code of cdev.

Automatic startup and shut down or sleep can be set by time of day using the Schedule tab, or the machine can be put to sleep after a set period of inactivity using the Sleep Setup tab. In the latter, you can choose whether the monitor, or both screen and hard disk, go to sleep. For machines with a second PowerPC processor you may need to set the hard disk sleep interval to Never.

The Document Auto-Save feature provided in older versions of the panel causes documents to be saved automatically prior to a scheduled shut down, although some applications don’t support this feature. The Mac can restart automatically after a power failure, or you can press the Power key to resume work. At startup it can automatically reopen your files or rejoin a network server.

Some versions of the panel supplied with iBook computers have these extra options:-

Extensions Manager APPC

This extensions management utility lets you select the extensions and control panels to be loaded at the next startup. You can also save your selections of enabled items as specific sets. If preferred, you can replace Extensions Manager by an third-party application.

This application has an interesting feature that is both useful and annoying. Without telling you, it modifies the existing set, usually called My Settings, whenever you install software and also when you manually add or remove any control panels or extensions. This is useful since it continually tracks what you want to use. Unfortunately, it also remembers extra files that you don’t intend to use.

There is, however, a way around the problem. Make sure your current set is in good order and then quit Extensions Manager. Go to the Preferences folder and open the folder called Extensions Manager Preferences, make a copy of the file with the name of your current set and then give it a new name such as Standard Settings. Finally, using FileTyper, or a similar file utility, change the file’s type code from ESET to RSET, which should result in it having a ‘locked’ icon. Now, whenever you want to restore your standard settings you can simply select Standard Settings (or your own named set) in Extensions Manager and the settings will never change again.

File Exchange APPC

This replaces the PC Exchange and Mac OS Easy Open control panels used in older systems, its PC Exchange and File Translation tabs performing the same roles.

The PC Exchange section gives access to files found on PC disks that employ FAT12, FAT16, FAT32 and DOS filing systems, as well as those on Apple II ProDOS disks. The settings in this section also apply to files received via the Internet and are reflected in the File Mapping section of the Advanced tab of the Internet control panel and also in some Internet application settings. The panel can identify each kind of file by its PC Extension, actually the filename extension, and can be assigned a suitable Application as well as a four-character File Type code. So, for example, text files with an extension of .txt are normally assigned to SimpleText and given a code of TEXT.

The File Translation area lets the Mac open generic files and other unrecognised files by means of a suitable application or file translator. Older panels have a Delete Preferences option that erases all your previous choices of applications and translators.

File Sharing APPC

Lets you start, stop or set options for sharing files and folders over the Open Transport form of AppleTalk network. The Network Identity pane in Start/Stop contains information that identifies the machine, including Owner Name, Owner Password, for preventing unauthorised access to files, and Computer Name, which defaults to the form of <Owner Name>’s Computer.

The File Sharing and Program Linking buttons allow you to start or stop sharing, although many users leave the latter of these turned off, instead using local applications to open files. The appropriate Enable…over TCP/IP box should be checked if you’re using a modern TCP/IP-based network.

The Activity Monitor tab shows Connected Users, which may or may not match the number of computers on the network, and the Shared Items. The Users & Groups tab shows all the users, who can be organised into groups as required, and their settings.

File Synchronization APPC

A useful, although quirky and rather slow, application that lets you synchronise files between two disk drives, thereby ensuring that you have reliable copies of all updated files, but without requiring the machine to copy those files that haven’t been modified.

General Controls APPC cdev

This deals with some really basic settings. Show Desktop when in background should be selected, unless you dislike seeing the Finder behind other applications. Show Launcher at system startup need only be enabled if you use the Launcher application, whilst the Folder protection provided on some versions of the panel is only necessary for beginners.

For quicker operation of menus you should set Menu Blinking to Off whilst visibility of the insertion point can be improved by setting Insertion Point Blinking to Fast.

To save files in the same folder as the last document opened by the current application you should choose Folder that is set by the application in the Documents pane. The Check Disk option should be selected, as this ensures that First Aid checks your drive following a system crash.

Infrared APPC

Lets you choose between Apple’s IRTalk or the Infra-red Data Association (IrDA) protocols, when using a PowerBook or other computer equipped with an infrared link. This panel should not be used on any machine that doesn’t support the IrDA protocol.

Internet APPC

Effectively replaces the older Internet Config application, although the latter can still be used. This panel requires the Internet Config Extension file to be in the Extensions folder. Sufficient to say, it includes many of the settings required for running a Web browser, email or news application.

Keyboard APPC

This panels determines the behaviour of your keyboard, including the choice of Script system, although you’ll only see Roman in the menu if you have a Roman-based version of the Mac OS.

Selecting the correct Keyboard Layout ensures that the characters that you type actually match those printed on the form of keyboard that’s used in your country. Alternatively, you can make any keyboard behave as it would in another country.

The Key Repeat Rate is best set one down from Fast, whilst Delay Until Repeat should be one down from Short. The Function Keys button lets you change the behaviour of keys F1 to F12 (and beyond if you have a suitable keyboard), although this can be slightly confusing, while the Options button lets you rotate through keyboard layouts by pressing -Option-Space, although this option is incompatible with some games applications.

Keychain Access APPL

Provides a high level of security for files in Mac OS 9.x. For maximum safety you should ensure that you select Lock after xx minutes of inactivity and Lock when the system sleeps.

Launcher cdev

Lets you use buttons to launch applications or to open items. You can simply drag items into the window or place aliases of items in the Launcher Items folder in the System Folder. Just -click on the window to change the button size.

Location Manager APPC

This panel lets you select a setup for your computer from those that you’ve saved earlier. Although primarily designed for a portable machine, where you may be on the office network one day and working via a modem the next, it can also recall custom setups for different users.

The panels calls up configurations already saved in other panels, such as AppleTalk, Extensions Manager, File Sharing, Modem, Remote Access and TCP/IP. Before using Location Manager you must save a configuration in each panel you wish to set up. Each of these should be given a suitable name but mustn’t be called Default. You can then set up Location Manager.

The Auto-Open Items option lets you choose which files open at startup for each configuration. You can also export or import settings as files if required. Default Printer accommodates printers at a location, Extensions Manager selects specific extensions or control panels for a location whilst File Sharing, Networking, Sound and Time Zone set other options. And if you select Edit ➡ Preferences you can make the computer prompt you for a location at startup.

Map cdev

This panel, only used in Mac OS 8.x and earlier systems, provides a world map showing longitude, latitude and local time for major cities. You can set a specific location for your own Mac and then see the difference in distance or in time zone between your location and other cities.

Initially, you should select your home City from the list and click on Set. To move alphabetically through all the cities press Option and click Find. To change the unit of distance just click on km, mi or dg, which represent kilometres, miles and degrees respectively.

Memory APPC cdev

Provides options for Disk Cache, Virtual Memory (VM) and RAM Disk. The first of these increases speed, although it shouldn’t be set to use excessive RAM. The Default setting often corresponds to 32 KB of cache per MB of RAM, rising to a maximum in older machines of 4096 KB. So, if you have a very old machine with only 8 MB of RAM the cache is set to 256 KB.

Virtual Memory is best switched Off if you have a 680x0 computer but should be switched On at the default settings for improved speed on a PowerPC-based machine. Note that the use of RAM Disk is only normally viable if you have a suitable amount of hardware memory in your computer.

Under normal circumstances the Mac does a memory test at every startup. Although a useful check, this needn’t be done quite so often and can slow down the startup process, particularly if a lot of memory is installed. To disable this check you should press -Option whilst opening the panel. Extra Startup Memory Tests buttons appear, allowing you to enable or disable the test.

Modem APPC

This panel, usually accompanied by Internet, Remote Access and TCP/IP panels, and related Open Transport extensions, lets you use a modem to get on the Internet. You can turn Sound on or off during dialling or choose Tone or Pulse dialling. The default options are usually the best, although dialling problems in some countries can be fixed by selecting Ignore dial tone.

To use a form of PPP other than the PPP control panel you must disable the panel and install an appropriate extension that’s configured using a matching application, although this isn’t advised.

Monitors APPC

This replaces the older Monitors & Sound and Screen control panels, letting you set a Color Depth and Resolution for the screen. The Color button lets you calibrate the monitor using ColorSync.

Monitors & Sound APPL

This panel, designed only for use with PCI-based PowerPC models, replaces the individual Sound and Monitors control panels employed in older systems with 680x0 machines. But to add to the confusion, Mac OS 9.x now uses updated versions of the Sound and Monitors panels. This panel lets you set your monitor resolution or sound levels and allows you to choose audiovisual peripherals, such as a CD player, video cassette recorder (VCR), video camera or loudspeakers.

Mouse APPC cdev

This has adjustments for Mouse Tracking (tracking speed) and Double-Click Speed. The latter also sets the delay that occurs when attempting to rename an icon. Mouse Tracks lets the pointer create a sort of ‘trail’ across the screen, which seems of dubious value, while Thick I-beam is useful to users of machines with LCD screens who find it difficult to spot the beam within a page of text.

Multiple Users APPC

Lets different users have varying degrees of access to your machine, protected by voice recognition or a password. Most single users don’t need to employ this panel.

Numbers cdev

Lets you vary the presentation of numerical values and currencies, which is only really useful for non-US users who need such localised customisation.

Password Security APPC cdev

Prevents unauthorised users getting access to the drive in a PowerBook, but only if it’s an internal IDE drive that was initialised using Drive Setup, but not using the Mac OS Extended format (HFS+). It can be set up to ask for a password every time the drive or screen wakes up.

Power Macintosh Card cdev

Only used in Mac OS 8.x, this accommodates 68040 models fitted with a Power Macintosh Card. The machine’s 68040 or the PowerPC on the card can be the default processor at startup.

PowerBook cdev

Another Mac OS 8.x panel, this one providing battery management for PowerBook computers, including adjustment of processor cycling or speed (on some models) to save power. After a set period of inactivity the hard disk or system can be put to sleep, or the screen can be dimmed.

PowerBook SCSI Disk Mode APPC

Lets you use your PowerBook as a SCSI hard disk drive, connected to a desktop machine via a special SCSI cable. The SCSI ID of the ‘drive’ is set in this control panel.

PowerBook Setup cdev

Only used in Mac OS 8.x, this panel informs a communications application about the type of modem that’s used with certain models of PowerBook. It should be set to Normal for applications compatible with the Communications Toolbox (CTB), otherwise it should be set to Compatible.

QuickTime Settings cdev

Sets options for using QuickTime. With an Autoplay option selected, a CD automatically plays when inserted, although this can leave you exposed some forms of computer virus.

Remote Access APPC cdev

The original version of this panel was designed for use with Apple’s Remote Access Client application. This allowed a remote computer to use Apple Remote Access (ARA) to gain access to a base computer or network connected via a telephone line and modem, with the ‘office’ machine equipped with Remote Access Personal Server software.

Modern versions of this panel incorporate PPP, replacing ARA and allowing the panel to be used for general dial-up access from any kind of computer to any other system, including the Internet.

The Dial Assist panel should be present when using this panel.

Screen cdev

Used in Mac OS 8.x and later replaced by the Monitors panel, this sets the brightness and contrast for a built-in monitor. It can also be used to turn the screen off after a set period of inactivity.

Serial Switch cdev

Used prior to Mac OS 9.x for improved compatibility between IIfx or Quadra 950 machines and older applications using Printer or Modem ports. If you’re using a MIDI interface or Open Transport, or have other problems with ports, you should select Compatible, otherwise leave it set to Faster.

Sound APPC

This replaces the original Sound and Monitors & Sound control panels, allowing you to choose a sound for Alerts, to select a sound Input signal, an Output destination and to test the Speakers.

Speech cdev

Sets options for speech synthesis, including the default MacinTalk voice, and for speech recognition on machines equipped with a PlainTalk-compatible microphone. This panel requires Speech Manager and Speech Recognition extensions and one or more MacinTalk extensions.

Startup Disk APPC

This panel lets you select a default startup drive. Not essential if you only have one drive, but you’ll use eventually.

TCP/IP cdev

This control panel replaces the MacTCP panel used in Mac OS 7.x, as used with or without the original form of AppleTalk, now known as Classic AppleTalk. Both TCP/IP and MacTCP use the MacTCP DNR file to translate Internet host names into IP addresses. The latter, which is kept loose in the System Folder, is identified as a control panel for historical and compatibility reasons.

TCP/IP can select configurations, user levels and zones for Internet access via Apple’s Open Transport mechanism. Dial-up access requires some form of PPP software, normally provided by the PPP and Modem control panels supplied with Open Transport, although some users employ some form of PPP extension and a matching configuration application.

Text cdev

Can be used to change the presentation of text to accommodate different scripting systems, including Roman, which is used in Western languages, Hebrew, Arabic and others.

Token Ring cdev

Only used prior to Mac OS 9.x, this panel sets the data rate for a Token Ring card to 4 or 16 MB/s. You can also enter a password or network address and adjust the system timing.

Trackpad cdev

This sets the sensitivity to movement and double-click speed for a trackpad, if fitted.

Users & Groups cdev

Used in older systems, this panel gives other users access to your disk drive via file sharing over an AppleTalk network, although it’s replaced by the File Sharing panel in Mac OS 9.x. If Remote Access (ARA) Personal Server is used, Users & Groups determines who can get to the server.

To use this panel you must also enable the AppleTalk panel and select AppleTalk in the Chooser. For Classic AppleTalk under Mac OS 7.x you must do this in the Network panel.

USB Printer Sharing APPC

Lets you share a printer connected to a computer via USB over a network. This panel can only be used in Mac OS 9.x and in conjunction with TCP/IP, not AppleTalk. It only supports computers with built-in USB connections, making it unsuitable for machines fitted with a USB expansion card.

This panel may also have problems with networking systems that employ network address translation (NAT), as used to provide shared Internet access across a network.

Web Sharing APPC

Lets you share with others a designated folder containing Web pages.

Other Panels

The following panels are sometimes used, although not all are suitable for Mac OS 9.x:-

Apple Data Detectors

Part of the Apple Data Detectors (ADD) package that can identify types of information in documents, such as e-mail addresses, and allow you perform actions on selected items. The panel lets you activate specific data detectors and the actions to take with each one.

AppleTalk Options

Lets you suppress unwanted alert messages concerning Ethernet to ISDN bridges in a network when using the Open Transport version of AppleTalk. This isn’t normally required.

At Ease Setup

At Ease is a simple alternative to the Finder and can keep interlopers out of your System Folder.

Editor Setup

This is used to select a default OpenDoc editor for any data type that lacks an original editor. The list of data types can be switched between Select All or Choices Only.

LaserWriter Bridge

Lets any computer on an Ethernet or Token Ring network gain access to a LocalTalk-connected LaserWriter that’s wired to the machine on which it’s installed. This panel isn’t supported by Mac OS 8.5 or higher and can’t be used on a LocalTalk network that contains a router or another bridge device. In most situations a hardware router for the printer is a much better option.

LocalTalk Bridge

Allows network communication between the Ethernet and LocalTalk networks of the machine on which it’s installed. This can use a lot of the machine’s computing power and isn’t supported by Mac OS 8.5 or higher. The use of a hardware router is preferred.

MacLinkPlus Setup

This panel from DataViz is designed to work with the MacLinkPlus file translators, which work with File Exchange and the older Mac OS Easy Open panel. If you the MacLinkPlus Setup CW panel supplied with ClarisWorks 5,you should disable MacLinkPlus Setup to avoid confusion.

ODBC Setup

You may encounter this panel after installing Excel, the Microsoft Office package or any application that supports Open Database Connectivity (ODBC). This network protocol uses special dynamic-linked libraries (DLLs) to gain access to a source database operated by a database management system (DBMS) such as SQL Server or FoxPro. The manual supplied with your application should provide details of the necessary support files.

OpenDoc Setup

This small application is used for setting up OpenDoc. Most users don’t need this.

PC Setup

Sets options for a DOS Compatibility Card (PC Card), letting you switch between the Mac’s processor and the processor on the card. The panel has pop-ups for mapping the following:-

Drive C: the area of Mac hard disk assigned for the PC Card

Drive D: an optional second drive area

COM1: the Mac port or text file assigned for the PC Card

COM2: as above but for the PC Card’s second port

Other pop-up menus let you select the PC’s monitor, the amount of Mac memory used by the PC, folder sharing and PC sound. The memory requirements can be reduced by adding SIMMs to the PC Card or by turning off the PC Exchange control panel. You can enable the card at startup or make your Mac start up with the card. You can also assign keys to switch between the Mac and PC Card, and you can make the screen fade during the process.

TCP/IP Options

Modifies the behaviour of the TCP/IP panel for certain networks. Not normally required.

TV Setup

This panel is only necessary for setting up a MacTV system.


This Adobe Type Manager (ATM) control panel prevents PostScript fonts from having a jagged appearance on non-PostScript printers or on a monitor. It’s only required if you use PostScript fonts, other PostScript products or the QuickDraw GX or GXGraphics extensions.

Outdated Panels

As the Classic Mac OS has evolved many panels were left by the wayside. Many of those listed below can’t be used with later versions of Mac OS 8.x or Mac OS 9.x, while others, although workable, can give problems with later systems or on some machines, although they’re often still popular.

The most common of the older panels are:-

AppleCD Speed Switch

Used with older Apple CD-ROM drives but not needed in modern systems.

AppleVision Setup

Used in older systems to accommodate an AppleVision monitor, but no longer required.


Sets the monitor brightness using an on-screen slider control, number keys or arrow keys. By using a chosen combination of the Control, Shift or Option keys you can even avoid opening the panel.

Button Disabler

This disables the built-in Volume and Contrast buttons on a Performa or LC 500, which is handy if other people keep messing around with your machine’s settings.


Sets the colours for highlighted text and window borders. In Mac OS 8.x and Mac OS 9.x these functions are covered by the Appearance control panel.

CPU Energy Saver

Provides automatic shut down at a given date or time or after a period of inactivity, but only on models that have a Power button. Shut down can be delayed if a shared drive or the serial port is in use, or if the machine is busy or playing a sound. On a PowerPC-based model with a later system these functions are supplied by the Energy Saver panel application. With some versions of Mac OS Installer the CPU Energy Saver is put in Apple Extras, allowing you to add it manually.

Desktop Patterns

This application can go anywhere on your disk drive, allowing you to choose a background pattern for your Desktop. However, if you don’t want to change the pattern you can throw it away. In Mac OS 8.x this is replaced by the Desktop Pictures panel and in Mac OS 9.x by Appearance.

Prior to the installation of Mac OS 8.x, you should make a copy of the Desktop Pattern Prefs file in the Preferences folder, which lets you restore your chosen desktop pattern later.

Desktop Pictures

This replaces the Desktop Patterns application used in Mac OS 7.x. It includes the ability to import a PICT, GIF, JPEG or Photoshop image as a background picture for the Desktop. You can easily get to this panel by Control-clicking on the Desktop and choosing Change Desktop Background.

Ideally, the image should match your screen size, such as 640 × 480 pixels for a 14" monitor. You can drag an image (or part of one from another application) onto the panel’s mini-desktop. Better still, if you want random background images, you can drag on an entire folder of images. Control-clicking on the mini-desktop brings up a menu for adjusting the position of the image, or you can press Option and use the arrow keys to fine tune its location.

An image can be removed by dragging it from the mini-desktop into the Trash. Alternatively, you can click on the Remove button or Control-click on the mini-desktop and select Remove Picture, or you can drag a new picture onto the mini-desktop.

Energy Saver

This old variety of Energy Saver panel dims an external monitor after a specified period, although this only saves energy if you have an Energy Star monitor. If you want this panel as well as the new panel you must rename the later version and then use Custom Install in the Mac OS Installer.

File Sharing Monitor

This panel shows the users connected to your Mac via file sharing on an AppleTalk network.In Mac OS 8.x and Mac OS 9.x this function is provided by the File Sharing panel.


Lets you customise the colour and text of file labels in the Finder. The actual settings are stored in the System file itself. In Mac OS 8.x and Mac OS 9.x this panel is replaced by the Labels tab found under Edit ➡ Preferences in the Finder.

Mac OS Easy Open

Allows a generic file or other unrecognised file to be opened using a suitable application or file translator. The Delete Preferences option erases all of your previous choices of application or translator for each file type. This panel is replaced by File Exchange in later systems.


This panel sets configurations, user levels and zones for operating over the Internet with a 680x0-based machine running Mac OS 7.x, with or without the Classic form of AppleTalk. In later systems these functions are provided by the TCP/IP panel.

For a PPP dial-up facility over the Internet you also need a special extension, such as FreePPP, and its matching configuration application. Unfortunately, the later PPP and modern Remote Access control panels which replaces this software using Open Transport PPP (OT/PPP), can’t be used with the MacTCP panel since the latter is incompatible with Open Transport.


The original version of this panel, which shouldn’t be confused with that of the same name used in Mac OS 9.x, sets the number of colour or greyscale levels for a monitor connected to a 680x0-based or non-PCI PowerPC-based machine. It also sets the relative positions of different monitors on the Desktop.


For setting up the Classic form of AppleTalk network, as used on a 680x0-based machine running Mac OS 7.x or earlier. In later systems these functions are provided by the AppleTalk panel.

PC Exchange

Provides access to non-Mac files, as found on DOS and Apple II ProDOS disks. You can choose a suitable application to open each kind of DOS document, using the document’s filename extension for identification. This panel is replaced by File Exchange in later systems.


This works alongside the Modem and TCP/IP panels provided with Open Transport for a dial-up connection to the Internet. To use another form of PPP you must disable this panel and install an suitable extension, configured using a special application. In later systems, PPP is replaced by the modern Remote Access control panel, which can’t co-exist with the older panel.

PowerTalk Setup

For PowerTalk, an outdated system that’s incompatible with Mac OS 8.x or Mac OS 9.x.

Sharing Setup

For setting file sharing options and a network name of your Mac on an AppleTalk network. Either the AppleTalk or the Network control panel must be active and AppleTalk must be enabled in the Chooser. In Mac OS 8.x and Mac OS 9.x this is replaced by the File Sharing panel.


This panel, which shouldn’t be confused with that of the same name used in Mac OS 9.x, sets sound volume and preferences for sound inputs or outputs. It also lets you select an alert sound or record one of your own. On a PCI-based PowerPC this panel is replaced by the Monitors & Sound panel. However, if you still need to use this old Sound control panel, which is required by some applications, you may find a copy in the Apple Extras folder supplied by the Mac OS.

Sound & Displays

As supplied with older PowerPC-based models for sound and monitor settings. On a PCI-based PowerPC this is replaced by later Monitors & Sound panel or modern Sound and Monitors panels, although earlier machines must use the original Sound and Monitors panels.


Sets the default view for Finder windows. Show Disk Info in Header provides an indication of available disk space at the top of each window, although this can be inconvenient on a small screen. Show Folder Sizes is useful, but can make the Finder very slow. In List View the middle-size icon is best: the smallest size doesn’t distinguish between file types but gives a very fast display.

In Mac OS 8.x and Mac OS 9.x you can set the views for each window independently, using Edit ➡ Preferences and View ➡ View Options in the Finder.


Lets you click (with a key combination) on a window’s title bar to make it roll up, allowing you to see underneath. In Mac OS 8.x and Mac OS 9.x this function is covered by the Appearance panel, in which you can roll up a window using a standard double-click.

Additional Information

The Appearance Panel in Detail

Prior to Mac OS 8.x the appearance of Finder windows and icons, and also applications, had changed little since the inception of the Macintosh. A proposed version of the Mac OS, code-named Copland, showed how they could be improved, but wasn’t implemented, although several shareware offerings tried to emulate it, the best of which was Aaron. Other software tried to go further, although there are probably better things to do in life than creating an idyllic desktop.

The Appearance panel, together with the Appearance Extension required in earlier systems, works in a similar way to Aaron. It creates an overlay on top of the basic system, providing the so-called Platinum appearance with its 3D icons. Removing the extension (if used by your version of the system) causes the appearance of the Finder and other applications to revert to their original form.

Unlike Aaron, this software can also provide extra features in each application. For example, it can be used by an application to supply additional information under the Help menu.

System Fonts

Prior to Mac OS 8.x, the system font, as displayed in menu bars and dialogues, is fixed as Chicago, using its normal 12-point size. This font is impeccably designed for crisp presentation on a computer screen but is unfortunately rather large for modern purposes.The Appearance panel lets you choose an alternative system font, but you’re only permitted to use one of the following 12-point fonts supplied by Apple:-

Charcoal, Chicago, Chisel, Gadget, Sand, Techno, Textile

All of these fonts incorporate key symbol characters for use in menus, such as:-

Standard printing fonts, such as Times or Palatino, don’t have these special characters and therefore can’t be used as a system font. Hence the Appearance panel has been designed to only show Apple-approved fonts in its pop-up menu.

Other fonts, such as BeBox, Espi Sans, Tecton or Veritas, all of which are suitable, can only be used if given one of the names above. Alternatively, the more adventurous can modify the Appearance Extension file (where it’s used) to include these extra names in the panel’s menu.

Choosing and Renaming Fonts

The suitcase for a system font only needs to contain a single 10 or 12-point bitmap font, although other sizes can exist. TrueType fonts, identified by a multiple-letter icon, can also be kept if you want to print the font. However, you should remember that a system font always prints the special key symbol characters (see above) instead of the international characters produced by standard fonts.

To use a non-Apple system font without modifying the Appearance Extension file you should proceed as follows:-

  1. Check that the font you want to use is suitable as a system font. A utility such as Font Gander (Hugh Johnson) can be used to check all the available characters.
  2. Make a copy of the new suitcase on the desktop and double-click it to see that it holds at least one bitmap font of 10 or 12-point size. For example, the Espi Sans suitcase contains Espi Sans Bold 10. Now drag any unwanted font files out of the suitcase and into the Trash.
  3. Choose a substitute name for the new font, selected from the Apple list above. For example, you could use Charcoal, although this means that you can’t use the original font of this name.
  4. Give the suitcase a new name, such as Charcoal Substitute or Appearance Font. If the Finder doesn’t let you do this, open the suitcase with a file utility such as FileTyper, uncheck the Name Locked box and try again.
  5. Launch ResEdit (Apple) and use it to open the suitcase and then:-
    • Double-click on the FOND icon, select the single FOND resource, choose Get Resource Info and type Charcoal (or your chosen name) in the Name window.
    • Open the FOND resource and check that there’s at least one entry with a Font Size box containing 12. If there’s one entry of 10 (or another number) you should change it to 12.
    • Select Save and then Quit.
  6. Place the modified suitcase in your Fonts folder, inside the System Folder.
  7. Open the Appearance control panel and select your new font.
  8. Select Restart.

The new font should also appear in application menus with its new name. Remember that this font is a substitute for the named font, not the font itself.

Modifying the Extension to Accommodate a Font

To use a new system font with its original name you can proceed as shown below, but only if your system uses the Appearance Extension. Unfortunately, in later versions of the Mac OS the appropriate sfn# resources are located in the System file and are difficult to edit. Those of a nervous disposition may wish to avoid this procedure altogether.

  1. Make a copy of the Appearance Extension file, as found in the Extensions folder. To be on the safe side you can also make a second copy that you should leave untouched.
  2. Open the copy using ResEdit and proceed as follows:-
    • Open the sfn# resource using the STR# template.
    • Add two fields to the bottom of the list, the first containing the name of the new font, the second its size. For example, the first could contain Tecton and the second 12.
    • Select Save and then Quit.
  3. Move the modified file into the Extensions folder, replacing the original version of the Appearance Extension file.
  4. Ensure the new system font is in the Fonts folder
  5. Select Restart.
  6. Open the Appearance control panel and select the required font.
  7. Select Restart again.

Sound and Monitors Panels

There have been three generations of control panels used for setting up monitors and sound options with a Macintosh computer. The original Sound and Monitors panels are designed for 680x0 machines whilst the Monitors & Sound panel is for PCI-based PowerPC models. Both this panel and the Sound & Displays panel, intended for older non-PCI PowerPC machines, have now been replaced by newer versions of the separate Sound and Monitors panels.

The original Sound and Monitors panels shouldn’t be used on a modern machine, as these can cause confusion. If you have problems with sound settings you can remove the Sound Preferences file and any files in the Monitors & Sound Preferences folder, all found in the Preferences folder, inside the System Folder. You should then select Restart and readjust your panels to taste.

Sound Settings

You may need to use the older type of Sound panel on a PCI-based PowerPC model if you have an old audio application or non-Apple audio hardware. However, when used on such a machine with Mac OS 8.1, this panel can’t be used to select a sound input source, although a special Control Strip module is available for this purpose.

To change a sound settings in Monitors & Sound (and in other panels) you should quit any audio applications, change the setting and then run the application again. The Mute check box in the Sound window of the Monitors & Sound panel can’t be used with some types of computer.

Monitors Settings

The older Monitors & Sound panel can set the colour, brightness, contrast, resolution or screen geometry for a ColorSync, AppleVision or other Apple multiple-scan monitor, but only when the °AppleVision extension is enabled.

Although any change in resolution is immediate, the screen geometry may need to be readjusted.


Mac OS X Bible, Panther Edition, Sam A Litt, et al, Wiley Publishing Inc, 2004

MacWorld magazine (UK), IDG Communications, 2002-4

©Ray White 2004.