In this second installment in our series on selecting an OS to run on your Mac machine, Ilene Hoffman examines Mac OS 7.6.
In our previous Daily Drill Down, "Mac Corner: Your Mac OS, part 1, ” we examined Mac OS 7.5.5 and reviewed its enhancements, installation requirements, and known issues. In this Daily Drill Down, we’ll take a look at System 7.6, including the 7.6.1 update.
In January 1997, Apple introduced the last of the System 7 series. OS 7.6 offered many bug fixes but wasn’t considered a major OS upgrade. Analysts implied that this release was intended purely to meet Apple's then-new OS strategy of offering updates twice a year.
OS 7.6 enhancements
OS 7.6 features include a new easy-to-use installer with step-by-step installation, an upgraded Extensions Manager, a faster LaserWriter driver, Open Transport PPP, Apple Remote Access Client, and built in OpenDoc. The Apple System Profiler, a utility that reports on all of your extensions, control panels, and hardware installed, was also introduced. The Finder also has more memory allocated to it; this eliminates conflicts with some extensions and reduces the number of error messages. Many extensions and control panels were upgraded, and a new set of DataViz MacLinkPlus translators was added. The PC Exchange utility was also upgraded to support the DMF Windows 95 file format.
System 7.6 introduces the change to "About This Computer" instead of "About This Macintosh" as the first item in the Apple Menu. Control Panel files that were type "cdev" are now APPD file types and act like small applications. The same is true of Apple Menu Items, which become file type APPC. (Both these file types can also be run in OS 7.5.3 and 7.5.5, but the APPCs are not completely supported.) No versions of Disk First Aid prior to 7.2.3 should be used with OS 7.6 because incorrect disk damage reports may result. Built-in screen capture options are also enhanced:
- · [Command][Shift] (FKey3) captures a PICT file of the entire desktop and saves it to the root directory of the startup drive.
- · [Command][Shift][Control] copies a picture of the entire desktop to the Clipboard.
- · [Command][Shift] (FKey4) gives you a crosshair cursor to select the portion of the screen you want to capture and creates a picture file of a rectangular selection of the desktop. If you press the Shift key while dragging the cursor, the capture area is constrained to a square.
- · [Command][Shift][Caps Lock] gives you a bullseye cursor to save a picture file of a window when you click in the window.
Machine-specific fixes took care of a variety of problems. The problem with the volume buttons on 5200, 5300, 6200, 6300, and 630 series computers has been fixed. 68040 machines and computers with PowerPC processors that use the NuBus expansion bus can now use hard disks up to a maximum of 2 terabytes (TB). Note, though, that these large disks cannot be used as startup disks for 68040 computers or for virtual memory storage.
Mac OS 7.6 runs on any Macintosh and Mac OS-compatible system with a 68030, 68040, or PowerPC processor, except the Macintosh SE/30, IIx, and IIcx. It cannot be installed over System 6 because a whole new system folder needs to be created. Eight MB of installed RAM is required, with an additional 8 MB necessary either through installed RAM or the use of virtual memory. Installation requires about 70 MB of free hard drive space, with some features only available to specific models.
7.6 known issues
- · The Apple driver update software is now called Drive Setup (vers. 1.2.2). Do NOT use the old Apple HD SC Setup after using Drive Setup.
- · PowerTalk mail, catalogs, the keychain, and other PowerTalk services no longer work with Mac OS 7.6.
- · OpenDoc, Cyberdog, and LaserWriter 8.4 are not installed on computers with 68030 and 68040 microprocessors (fixed in update 7.6.1).
- · You must select a printer driver in the Chooser to avoid unspecified problems—whether or not you have a printer connected.
- · NuBus Power PCs and 68040 machines need AppleVision software version 1.0.2. Version 1.0.4 is installed with OS 7.6 and it will run, but some monitor features are disabled. Apple recommends the software be installed from the original AppleVision disks if needed.
- · After installing Mac OS 7.6 on PowerBooks 190, 190cs, and 5300cs, the display may appear blank because the power manager is being updated. Restarting the computer will result in a normal screen.
- · LaserWriter driver 8.4 is not compatible with 68040 machines. If you want to print, use LaserWriter driver version 8.3.4. If you install a universal system folder on your computer, LW driver 8.3.4 is automatically installed.
- · You cannot use an Apple Color OneScanner with Scanner extension version 4.1 or earlier with virtual memory turned on. You should turn off virtual memory or upgrade the extension.
- · OS 7.6 does not automatically install either the PC Compatibility software or the Apple Telecom software. Both need to be reinstalled after installing 7.6.
- · Network administrators using AppleShare software version 3.6, 3.6.1, or 3.6.2 should upgrade to version 3.6.3 before installing Mac OS 7.6 over a network.
- · The Apple CD-ROM extension should only be used with Apple-manufactured CD-ROMs. If you use an external CD or third party CD-ROM, you should use the software supplied or FWB's CD-ROM Toolkit. Remember to disable or remove Apple's CD-ROM extension, too.
- · Macintosh Easy Open control panel is renamed to Mac OS Easy Open control panel. Make sure you use the new one with OS 7.6.
- · The new QuickTime PowerPlug is version 2.5. Some software, such as the QuickTake 150 software, installs version 2.0. If you have to reinstall the QuickTake software, make sure you move version 2.5 to another folder, then drag it back to the Extensions folder.
7.6.1 update notes
As bugs were discovered and fixed, an update (OS 7.6.1) was released in April 1997. No one should be running OS 7.6 anymore because the bug fixes were numerous. 68030 and 68040 computers, which needed the CFM-68K Runtime Enabler, were out of luck with 7.6—it didn't work correctly. This problem is fixed in 7.6.1, and affected applications (OpenDoc, LaserWriter 8.4 driver, Apple Telecom software 3.0, and, later, the Apple Media Tool, America Online 3.0, and Internet Explorer 3.0) can now be run.
This update should not be installed on the Macintosh Performa 4400 or the Power Macintosh models 4400, 5500, 6500, 7300, 8600, or 9600 series computer because their enablers aren’t included.
The PowerBook 3400 has its own Mac OS 7.6.1 installer, which can be downloaded from Apple.
Problems with the Performa 5400 and 6400 and PowerBook 3400 communicating between serial port devices were fixed. Freezes that occurred when the infrared port was blocked at start up were also fixed on the PowerBook 1400 and 3400 computers.
7.6.1 known issues
Speed Doubler versions 2.0 and earlier do not work, so make sure you have upgraded this application from Connectix .
- · Macintosh TV—Make sure you delete the Video Startup extension and the Apple Video Player application before you upgrade to 7.6.1. They don’t work on Macintosh TV, but they are installed by 7.6 and upgraded when you apply the Mac OS 7.6.1 Update. Neither the original install nor the upgrade will work with this Mac model.
- · Users of the DayStar Digital 040 card must remove the card, install Mac OS 7.6.1 Update, and reinstall the DayStar Digital 040 card.
- · PowerBook 1400 with the Newer Technology Ethernet card installed requires Ethernet driver version 1.5 or later from Newer Technology .
- · To use the Closed Caption feature in Apple Video Player on a 68040 computer, you must reinstall Apple Video Player version 1.4 from the Mac OS 7.6 CD. (Version 1.6 is installed by 7.6.1.)
- · Two glitches that occur when you choose the "Mac OS 7.6.1 Base" and "Mac OS 7.6.1 All" sets in the Extension Manager can be remedied by simply turning the control panels back on. The control panels affected are Monitors Control Panel and Printing Lib.
More information on the 7.6.1 update can be found in Apple's Mac OS 7.6.1 Update Read Me .
In this Daily Drill Down, we’ve examined System 7.6, including the 7.6.1 update. Come back next time because we’ll be reviewing Mac OS 8.0, its enhancements, installation requirements, and known issues, as well as the OS 8.1 update.
Ilene Hoffman, MS, is a Macintosh/Internet writer, trainer, and consultant based in the Boston area. She is Senior Editor at MacFixIt.com, Contributing Editor at MacTech Magazine, and the perpetrator of the Hess Macworld Expo Events List . She also hosts weekly Mac conferences on Talk City and AOL.The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein, but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.