If you’re just getting started with a classic Mac, or are a long time fan – there are some pieces of software that are downright essential to have on hand. The best part is, most of these are freely available online and take up very little space on older hard drives. Without further ado…
10. Disinfectant – I never had much trouble with Mac viruses in the old days. But now, on the internet, downloading willy-nilly, I’ve suddenly found the need to run anti-virus! Disinfectant was one of the best, and it’s free!
9. After Dark – Old Mac CRTs had serious burn-in problems, especially with the static menu bar always being shown. On top of this, the old Mac OS didn’t have native screen savers. After Dark 3 and up also includes Wall Zapper which allows you to set up full-screen desktop backgrounds – as an added bonus.
8. BBEdit – A full-featured text editor. Goes way beyond TeachText/SimpleText. BBEdit, or even the free BBEdit Lite can convert line endings, has powerful search capabilities, and some macro support. BBEdit will pretty much handle all of your text editing needs.
7. GraphicsConverter – Allows you to view, convert, and perform basic editing on graphics of various formats. GC also has a batch conversion functionality which can come in handy. Overall, it’s pretty light and very versatile.
6. SoundApp – Plays sound files and music in various formats. SoundApp can also create playlists so you can jam out to MOD and MIDI files all day.
5. Mt.Everything – Not only great for setting up your SCSI devices, it can even mount drives like Zip disks without the drivers!
4. Norton Utilities – Kind of a Swiss Army knife type of tool. This suite of utilities gives you the ability to repair disks, get system info, improve performance, and more!
3. ShrinkWrap – This tool is a necessity for downloading classic software these days. The classic Mac file system had a notion of a resource fork which can get lost if not binary encoded properly. ShrinkWrap just solves this and more. On top of this, ShrinkWrap also gives you the functionality of DiskCopy – so you can “copy that floppy”.
2. Stuffit Lite (Or Expander & DropStuff) – .SIT was the de facto standard compression format before Macs went over to .ZIP Having a way to deal with StuffIt archives is essential for living with retro Macs. As an honorable mention, CompactPro is also a great compression tool that is nice to have on hand as well!
1. ResEdit – One of my favorite tinker tools EVER. In fact, ResEdit deserves its own article… at some point! In short, it’s a tool that allows you to edit the resource fork – or the graphic, sound, text, and UI aspects of a file or program. It has almost limitless uses and it’s without a doubt one of the most essential Mac utilities to have in your arsenal.
In all honesty, it’s hard to narrow the list down to only 10 – but hopefully these will get you started. Check out the more resources page for links to tons of classic Mac software. Enjoy!