Mac OS 7.5: Better than Tiger Will Ever Be

by Gregory Ng Mar 24, 2005

The upcoming release of Tiger, Apple’s latest iteration of OSX, does not excite me at all. Sure the added features, updated applications, and the promise of a more stable platform is enough to stimulate any Mac user. But I don’t think an update will truly give me goose bumps until Apple puts out OS XI. The advantages of Tiger over Panther are simply not enough to change the way I do work. In fact if I were to write down a list of all the unique features of OSX that have helped the efficiency of my workflow I would come to an enlightening conclusion: my Mac experience was better in 1997 than it is now. There I said it. Let me explain.  In 1997 I was a recent graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, ready to take the advertising world by storm. I was “Mac Proficient” or at least that’s what I put on my resume. I was an expert in the applications of my industry: Quark XPress, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Macromedia Director. I even knew enough to do minor troubleshootin—I zapped my PRAM, I rebuilt my desktop, etc. My first employer outfitted me with a 233mHz G3 tower and I was as good as my fresh-outta-college ego said I was. How was this possible? It was all due to an operating system we know as OS 7.5. Prior to unix-based OS, prior to aqua interfacing, and prior to HFS, we used 7.5. And I have never been more efficient.  This isn’t all Apple’s fault. The number one reason for such prolific efficiency was that Quark XPress was actually built for the OS. I would go as far to say Quark XPress 3.3 was and is the best version of Quark XPress ever put out. When you set type, you saw it typeset right in front of your eyes. When you zoomed in (Apple-Option-Click) and then quickly Fit Page in Window (Apple-0), you saw the redrawn screen in an instant. Quark 6 in OSX brings nothing but Spinning Beachballs of Death. Remember when the worst thing about Quark XPress was that you hit “Collect for Output” and it didn’t include fonts? Now try a program that sometimes fails to recognize file names in directories, is buggy with Photoshop EPS files, and presents you with multiple “Unknown Errors.” Those were the days huh?  OS 7.5 was better with font management. In 1997, I had my pick of 2 great font management tools: Symantec Suitcase and Adobe Type Manager. It became a matter of personal preference why I used ATM 2.5 religiously. Once you figured out the difference between TrueType and Postscript everything worked flawlessly. If you are a professional designer then you struggle with Suitcase for OSX just like I do. If you use FontBook then clearly graphic design is a hobby for you because you seriously cannot get anything done with that piece of junk. Even without third-party help, you knew you simply copied the font files into your Font folder and restarted the application. OSX brings a wide array of possibilities of where your precious fonts can live.  The user interface of OSX, in an attempt to declutter the desktop, has made managing multiple documents difficult. What about the basics of opening windows. When you want it open in OS 7.5, you opened it. When you wanted it closed you closed it. Now you double-click on an icon and it refreshes your already opened window. I also miss windowshade. When I wanted to collapse a window I could still see the title bar rather than see it disappear into a bottle. Although I was wowed with Expos� when I first saw it, in actuality I use it very seldomly. You might be different.  Finally the big difference between OS 7.5 and OSX is the ability to crash. Back in the day, my computer crashed, I lost everything I hadn’t saved and I restarted the computer. Boy that was nice. It was nice because I knew I would hear the chime, see the extensions flashing up on the bottom of the restart sequence, get the dialog box saying the computer did not get shut down properly, then my desktop would pop up and I could get my groove on again. Sure I crashed 5-10 times a day but at least i knew the timing of the restart process. Sometimes I do a Security Update on my machine and it takes 10 minutes to restart. I see the gray screen with the Apple logo. Then I see the blue screen with the Beachball. Then I get a user login screen, and then (after I have used the bathroom, got a drink, read the newspaper, and came back to the computer), my desktop pops up.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change my life now for what it was 8 years ago. I enjoy the internet, my Superdrive, and iTunes. Tiger will improve my home computing life for sure. As for my work life? No improvement. Only more headaches. In 1997 expectations of my work did not exceed the speed and compatibility of my machine and my operating system. And that, is something to miss.


  • CoreType is one of my better ideas, huh?  I should pitch it to Apple.  wink

    doktor242 had this to say on Mar 29, 2005 Posts: 2
  • Papa Tony - no need to bash. My point is that there are a myriad of reasons apps are unstable.

    From a fair persepective - Adobe CS products crash frequently - either from fonts, memory exceptions, plugins, etc. Quark crashes frequently, for the same problems. Which can a person say crashes more? Impossible to say. My comment wasn’t to say Adobe products crash 10 times more than Quark - but crash at the same relative frequency.

    If in your experience (still a statistically non-relevant number) Quark issues vastly outweigh the InDesign - great! Do you what you are doing and tell your clients to work with InDesign. If the pain for them to swicth is less than it it is to crash, then that is the obvious right choice.

    Nathan had this to say on Mar 29, 2005 Posts: 219

    an awesome PDF that compares the two feature by feature. Who knows if this guy was paid by Adobe or not, but if your required features are listed here then this table will help you out.

    Does not address the legacy document situation - you’ll still need Quark for that.

    Nathan had this to say on Mar 29, 2005 Posts: 219
  • It sounds like Gregory Ng and some of the repliers are suffering from that mid-life crisis/ nostalgia phase where everything old is better than anything new. I mean, he even adopts the position that crashes are good. I can’t comment on his pining for the good old version of Quark, but you know, if you love it so much, you can go ahead and use it. You can probably find an old 233MHz G3 tower out there cheap, and then you can relive your glory days to the fullest. Dig out your old LPs, grow your hair long, whatever turns you on.

    ray.gos had this to say on Mar 29, 2005 Posts: 8
  • Haha. Living in the past is no good. Though, it is funny that most of the technology behind OS X is 25+ years old…

    Waa had this to say on Mar 29, 2005 Posts: 110
  • I agree with the Posters who come out in favor of InDesign on the ID/Quark issue. The relationship between Adobe and Quark has turned into an intresting paralell to the Apple/Microsoft relationship. Adobe now produces innovative, user-friendly products while Quark, used to its previous market dominance, it now it the role of spitting out poorly-implemented software shot through with “Me-Too!” features in imitation of whatever InDesign has. Designers love InDesign because you can reliably place native PSD and Illustrator files, maintain their layers and transparency, and have them output reliably. Additionally, features lihe feathering and drop shadows that used to be in the realm of Photoshop or Clunky Xtensions that wouldn’t RIP correctly, are now fast and easy in InDesign. Most modern printers love InDesign simply because it outputs a Beautiful PDF. More and more modern RIP workflows are becoming PDF-based, so the fit is natural. Quark also continues to price itself out of the market. Why pay $800+ for Quark which does a questionable job of Page layout alone, when you could spend a few hundred more and get the CS package and be able to do excellent page layout, image creation/editing, powerful vector illustration, intuitive Web design and flexible PDF authoring. Quark used to be my app of choice, back in the 4.11 days, but now they’re having to yield to the superior Adobe.

    Proud Xserve Parent had this to say on Mar 30, 2005 Posts: 4
  • Also, Converting ID to Quark before output?  How? Why!? Holy Type Reflow, Batman! Not on one of my layouts!

    Proud Xserve Parent had this to say on Mar 30, 2005 Posts: 4
  • “Holy Type Reflow, Batman!”

    I love GoLive. I’ve never used Dreamweaver (seen it in action, though), but GoLive is sweet. So, yeah, the Adobe Creative Suite (Premium Edition) is a powerful package ranging from comprehensive image editing to spectacular page layout options to posting it all on the web with ease.

    But if you want to do truly artsy stuff, you need Painter.


    Waa had this to say on Mar 30, 2005 Posts: 110
  • Never used painter, now that i’ve donated $300 to the Wacom Foundation, I may give it a whirl. smile

    Proud Xserve Parent had this to say on Mar 30, 2005 Posts: 4
  • I haven’t used it since like version 2, but it was cool then. An artist friend of mine swears by it for any type of digital illustration/painting. Of course, he likes Photoshop too, but for different reasons.

    Waa had this to say on Mar 30, 2005 Posts: 110
  • BTW - I also have a secret SE30 tucked away in the garage. Great machine, works well as a waveform generator on my audio workbenck, runs Stickbear Math fo rmy Daughter. Useless for a modern designer. I love it.

    Proud Xserve Parent had this to say on Mar 30, 2005 Posts: 4
  • I’m a bit late commenting here, but I’d just like to say that I see where Gregory is coming from.  I started using Macs with System 7.0.1 and they certainly were more simple than they are now.  However, despite pleasant memories, I can’t stand using pre OSX machines now.  I keep forgetting how often they crashed.  The crashing is just unacceptable.  Windows doesn’t even crash anymore.

    I can’t really help you with Quark; I’m not a graphics designer, but I can say this: System 7.5 was my *least* favorite OS that Apple ever released.  (except maybe for 10.0) It was essentially 7.1, incorporating dozens of little shareware programs.  It was bulkier, slower, and buggier.  I remember that 7.5.1, 7.5.2, 7.5.3 all the way to 7.5.5 were released rapid-fire from Apple to fix all the bugs in 7.5.  I begrudgingly used 7.5 on my PowerBook Duo 230, but 7.1 sure ran better on it.

    Anyway, I am now a happy Panther user with my 800MHz PowerBook G4.  It runs a little slow for me, but my hardware isn’t all that fast either.  All of the Apple software that comes with the OS is great.  iTunes is great.  Safari is really great.  (And I was so skeptical when Apple first announced they were going to release another web browser.  I suddenly had visions of Cyberdog running through my head.)

    Most of the 3rd party stuff is good too.  Photoshop is as great as ever.  Dreamweaver 2004 is very good.  Microsoft Office is good too, though I really don’t like Entourage.  Quark is bad, but it’s bad on Windows too.  That’s not OS X’s fault.

    daniel had this to say on Mar 30, 2005 Posts: 3
  • Stickybear!!!

    Waa had this to say on Mar 31, 2005 Posts: 110
  • Good news!  At least for Quark users.  There may be a Quark 7 much sooner than there was a Quark 6:,1759,1781262,00.asp

    So get your fingers ready, and send Quark as much feedback as is necessary to get them to make your migration to Mac OS X a lot easier.  A lot complain about how Quark 4.1.1 has a hard time functioning within Classic, and that Quark 6 can’t export and import Quark 4.1.1 files, so they are stuck.  If you want to have a say about what your future computer will be like, tell Quark that you want better backward compatibility.

    gopher had this to say on Apr 01, 2005 Posts: 9
  • I did not read all the comments so forgive me if some else already mentioned this.

    There is a company creating haxies that bring back alot of the cool aspects of OS 7.5 - 9.  I love the utility called Windowshade X.  Takes you right back to 1997!

    Check them out at:

    Fruit Menu is right out of the 90’s too!

    Craig Russell had this to say on Apr 03, 2005 Posts: 1
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