Mistaken Identity: Setting the model name under “About This Macintosh”

In the beginning, the “About This Macintosh” box told us all about our beloved Macs… but then at some point during the System 7 days, it somehow befell an identity crisis and no longer displayed the name of the system. Instead, the window simply said “Macintosh” with a generic icon. This was always a pet peeve of mine, but the good news is – it can be fixed!

About This About Box

In the earliest days, there were only a few different models of Macintosh; classics like the original 128k, Plus, SE, and the II series. Into the 90s many different models were introduced and eventually even Mac clones. And as such, the “About this Macintosh” window became more generalized and universal.

Here’s an example of an older system where the model name (SE/30) and it’s icon appeared under “About this Macintosh”:

That’s great, but take a look at this System 7.6 install…. It just says “Macintosh”. How cold and impersonal!

Notice they also changed the text to say “About This Computer” in System 7.6 around when the Macintosh clones were on the market.

One cure for Mac-amnesia

The good news is, it can be changed! Not only can it be changed, you can set it to anything you want quite honestly. There are also a few different options available to perform this change…

One option is to use system extensions that simply change it for you. I was never a fan of this option because why have the overhead of yet another extension if you don’t need it. But this option is good if you’re trying to trick software into thinking your Mac is a different model. (For example, installing Mac OS 8 on a 030-based machine is an example of when you might need to do this!!) If this is the route you want to go, I’d recommend:

Manually fixing the About Box

If you’re looking for the satisfaction of seeing the correct model name displayed, and don’t want to run extensions to do so – this is the option for you. Here’s the process:

  • Start up from a different disk since you need to edit your system suitcase file.
  • Make a backup copy of your original System suitcase – just in case.
  • Open your System suitcase within your System Folder in ResEdit.
  • Open the resource STR# and find -16395 and open it (see picture)
Resource -16395 lists all of the model names by gestalt id (model id)
  • Find your gestalt id (model id) on this list. If you don’t know your Mac’s id number, Apple still has a list of which model is which id. In any case, find your id here and change the text to indicate your Mac’s model name – or anything else you want it to say! Note that the id is shown above the text. In my screenshot I am editing id 99.
  • Now that the text should show the correct model name, let’s select a better (or at least less-generic) icon. In ResEdit, the resource you’ll want to open next is “icl8”. When you open that you’ll see all of the icons used by the system – the one that shows up in the about box is -16396 see screenshot:
Note that you’ll want to change all the versions of the icon for full effect: the ICN#, icl8, icl4, the Mask (clickable area) and teh smaller ics versions. The easiest way to do it is to drag the icl8 over the other versions.
  • With your new icon in place, Save your changes, close out of ResEdit and reboot!
  • I’ve updated my Mystic Color Classic to display “Color Classic III” which was what might have been if Apple didn’t cancel the project…

Take it easy

Not a fan of ResEdit? No problem… There’s also WhoAmI? which I believe just does the resource edits automatically for you.