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.


  • I’m an editor using fcp and my experience of OS X across 8 or so machines (G3,G4,G5) is bad, bad, bad.  These machines were mostly setup by Apple vendors, but a couple by me, and I’ve had more problems with this OS than anything else I’ve ever used.  I’m sticking with OS 9.2.2, because the basics of editing were covered admirably with fcp3 and I can point to several broadcast projects I have cut with it.  I find Aqua an annoying interface that gets in the way of work and is nowhere as intuitive or fast as OS 9.  I wish you could turn those animations off and I hate the fact you have a mouse speed to cursor relationship that is not linear.  Believe me, I’m just getting started.  I used to sell Macs 5 years ago - two months ago I bought a PC for some tasks, and strangely enough it has been excellent so far.  Very fast and powerful and a heck of a lot cheaper than the Mac alternative.  I hate OS X.

    Toasted had this to say on May 24, 2005 Posts: 1
  • Hey, we’re talking about an “expert” in Quark Express, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Director, right out of Design school. Let’s show a little respect.

    cloudwall had this to say on May 26, 2005 Posts: 21
  • You’re like a Newbie! Hahaha 7.5! Quark? What about InDesign? Oh god. What hole have you lived in?

    7.5 was so yuck. I feel sorry for your G3 (How does the ROM allow you to boot into 7.5 by the by?)

    Spaz had this to say on Jun 15, 2005 Posts: 4
  • I grew up using most System 7 and Mac OS 8/9. I love Mac OS X, and I’m a deisgner, it’s stable and I like the overall feel and design of the OS. But enough about that. It seems that Gregory Ng doesn’t have a very convincing argument for System 7.5 being better than OS X. In fact, his whole article is about HIM and how HE finds 7.5 more productive ... I just wasted my time reading an article I expect to make some great comparisons and contrasts between the two OSs, but instead I get a big piece about how he likes it when it crashes 10 times a day, because it did it fast.

    shirmpdesign had this to say on Jul 29, 2005 Posts: 6
  • LOL… I get a kick out of some of these discussions that sound like:

    ...“You’re not driving a hydrogen car?  What? You mean you’re still using gas? Oh, that’s so ‘90s!  Driving a 2005 car? 2005 just feels so archaic… ”
    ... “Oh God, what hole have you lived in? If it requires gas? Kill it, no thank you!!! “

    But when a poster makes a comment like :
    “...serious designers use InDesign, not Quark.”
    ... I get a chuckle. The poster betrays his experience and knowledge. 

    Serious designers don’t use InDesign OR Quark to design.  By the time layout people use InDesign or Quark, the designing is done. The page layout people then use the available software to do the work.

    “Serious” designers were winning international design awards—having used a Mac Plus or no computer at all. 

    Sorry, the machine and the software really has nothing to do with design.

    However, we may keep hoping that those who make such comments will eventually grow up, and become serious about what ever it is they do.


    PS: Yes, I bought a new hammer. But I didn’t need to throw the old one away.

    Showker had this to say on Sep 03, 2005 Posts: 2
  • OSX Tiger is an awesome OS.  I never really had much experience with OS7.  But Tiger is still the undesputed champion.

    jakeisbill had this to say on Sep 12, 2005 Posts: 3
  • Am with Showker on this one, InDesign, or Quark are pretty much meaningless really. Its just a tool to get the job done. Things change but really if you have the design in your head, whats it matter if your using one or the other to get it made up. The same really goes to the OS also, Quark on the Mac handles the same (badly at time) as it does under Windows. Same with Photoshop. They are just tools to an end result.

    As for the OS though, System 7.5 was a very very nice OS. 7.1 also. I dunno though, 7.6 was just fluff, and the 8’s where pretty dire. 9 was oh please someone take it out back and shoot it. As for X hmm. Wasn’t this already done years before with mkLinux and the BeOS raspberry (which I have to admit I loved the BeOS, great OS).

    Nyadach had this to say on Sep 12, 2005 Posts: 29
  • Computers have, in the past decade, evolved quite a bit. Yes, we still use them as primary tools - designers use Photoshop, Illustrator, QuarkXPress; Web creators use Macromedia’s tools; everybody uses Office. We also surf, IM, listen to iTunes, create videos, plan days (Calendar/Outlook), Skype, and on and on. And we do it in a constructive, user-tuned interface. Typewriters died to make way for word processors, which gave way to PCs that could do more than just word process, which ought to have made way for the Macintosh (grin), whose OS7 (thank heavens) made way for OSX. Yes a multi-task machine will generally be outperformed by a single-task machine (with reference to comments made to this article only), at least in the short term, however there is no substitute for cubic inches… I found the old MacOS interface to be quite unfriendly, on the whole, whereas Apple has created a truly user-centred experience with OSX. Is it all that it could/should be? I haven’t used an OS that is. OSX, however, is my interface of choice for the moment.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Leif Penzendorfer had this to say on Sep 19, 2005 Posts: 3
  • I also want to be one suoer-user on machine, as it looks in 7.5. I also miss those feeling.. But as usually, I wait for next relize of Mac OS… I do not like UNIX so much with all this permission… But I learn.. I use to… Do it, do not fight with OS.  Welcome   up2U

    sima had this to say on Nov 09, 2005 Posts: 1
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