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ATPM 8.11
November 2002



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The Legacy Corner

by Chris Lawson,

Where to Get Free and Inexpensive Software for Legacy Macs


First, this month’s Obscure Mac Trivia that Nobody Really KnowsTM: name the two Apple-authored Macintosh software components that have Monty Python-inspired icons. Bonus points: what are the icons?

This Column

Once upon a time, one of my fellow staffers here at ATPM had this great idea for a column. Then I took a three-month break for the summer so I could get my affairs in order before starting grad school. Then I took a two-month break to get my affairs in order when I started grad school. Now I have the evening free and an editor breathing down my neck, and lo and behold, I still have the e-mail from nine months back suggesting that I write a column about where to get free and inexpensive software for legacy Macs. So without further ado, I present:

Where to Get Free and Inexpensive Software for Legacy Macs

Yes, I know, it’s a terribly creative title. Bear with me. And thank Greg T. later. ;)

The single most important free software package for your legacy Mac is the operating system. Apple is generous enough to provide three of the six major legacy releases for free download: System 6 (6.0.8 is recommended for all System 6 users), System 7 (be sure to apply the tune-up as well), and System 7.5.3 (a 19-part disk image that requires about 40 MB of disk space in addition to the space required for the OS). I’m not going to get into a discussion of which OS version is best for which Mac; that topic has already been covered several times.

Once you have an OS on your Mac, you’ll need some software to make it useful. TeachText and SimpleText are basic word processors, but do you really want to be limited to plain text format and 32K file sizes? WordPerfect 3.5e or WriteNow 3.0 can help you turn that Mac into a novel-writing machine for the 21st century. Alternatively, you can use the highly rated (though perhaps quirky) Nisus Writer for your word processing needs.

As long as you have a reasonably recent (read: made since 1990 or so) Mac, you can browse the Web with iCab just as you would with a modern computer. Tip: turn off multiple connections for best results, and put the cache on a RAM disk if possible. Don’t like iCab? There are a host of alternative old browsers listed at the pickle’s Low-End Mac FAQ and Gamba’s browser page. The pickle’s FAQ has information on setting up older Macs to use Eudora for e-mail, and Gamba’s site also includes links to archives of the now-defunct Daystar software drivers archive and Vieuxmac ancient OS archive. Also in the same vein is Marten van de Kraats’ System 6 Heaven download page, which contains not only links to, but also mini-reviews and/or synopses of, almost every System 6-compatible program still publicly available.

Know of more? Got your own favorites? Hit the Post a Comment link below and let the world know about them.

Trivia Answers

The Killer Rabbit is part of AppleShare’s File Sharing Extension and appears on AppleShare PDS files with AppleShare 3.0 or System 7 installed. The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch is likewise part of the File Sharing Extension and replaced (“killed,” if you will) the Killer Rabbit on later OS versions. For more information, or to argue with me about the answers, read what MacKiDo says.

What Kind of Legacy?

Want to contribute to Legacy Corner? I need topic suggestions. Get your name in the (virtual) lights by being the first to suggest a column topic for next month! (Hey, I’m working on a shoestring here. You expect me to be a full-time Ph.D. student in organic chemistry and think of creative things to talk about that haven’t already been said about 68K Macs?)

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (6)

Jim Kane · November 2, 2002 - 21:04 EST #1
MORE 3.1 is an outstanding piece of free software for legacy Macs. It was, hands-down, the best outliner ever on any platform and still rules that category today without an update since God knows when. The outlining function built into MS Word can't touch it. The authors of OmniOutliner use it as their touchstone but haven't begun to approach its functionality.

Outlining? It's beautiful, with every numbering option could might ever need, and full support for drag-and-drop reorganization. Complete structured documents? Attach a "comment" of unrestricted length to each and every heading if you want. Formatting? Complete ad hoc flexibility, combined with "Rules" that provide speed and consistency. Org charts? No sweat -- turn an outline into a chart with a single click. Presentations? Got 'em. It's not PowerPoint, but if you live to outline, MORE is for you.

Download a copy from, the domain presided over by Dave Winer. Dave authored MORE, which was later published by Symantec (who later still allowed Dave to re-release MORE). Dave is a creative genius who went on to found UserLand Software, and his kindness lives on at

MORE 3.1 not only runs on legacy hardware and OSes, but it runs smoothly and FAST under Classic in OS X. Try it out! If you missed MORE the first time, you owe it yourself to try it now.
Gregory Tetrault (ATPM Staff) · November 3, 2002 - 17:29 EST #2
I agree with Jim Kane. I have been forced to use PowerPoint for presentations because the campus I teach at has only PCs with Windows and Microsoft Office software. However, I still use MORE 3.1 for making handouts and overhead slides. Symantec did such a great job that MORE works perfectly under OS 9.2 (or Classic) even though it hasn't been updated since 1991!
Michael Tsai (ATPM Staff) · November 3, 2002 - 17:40 EST #3
I like MORE, too. OmniOutliner, though OK, seems clumsy and buggy in comparison. (Though, of course, requiring Classic is a major drawback.)
Ed Williams · November 11, 2002 - 02:31 EST #4
What a wonderful, useful article, even though I no longer have/use a legacy Mac. (My grandchildren do!) For me, it would have been even more useful if the WriteNow 3.0 link wasn't broken (with an FTP #550 error).

I've really been wanting to WriteNow for quite a while now. (The iCab of word processors for my money.) I lost my copy. Cheers.

Ed Williams

PS - The Nisus URL works just dandy though. Yummy.
Chris Lawson (ATPM Staff) · November 20, 2002 - 20:54 EST #5
Unfortunately, it looks like WriteNow is basically impossible to get. The Learning Company owns the rights to it and won't allow anyone to distribute it. The French FTP site where the download of version 3 was hosted is at least semi-dead now. :(

Tom Gabriel · September 11, 2003 - 15:10 EST #6
I found a site from which I've downloaded a bunch of usable software, both for PPC and 68K Macs.

All downloads are free and use Stuffit to decompress.

Best of luck!

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