Apple Archive

Best Web Browsers, Word Processors, and MP3 Players for the Classic Mac OS

- 2004.12.10

If you're using Mac OS 9, you might wonder if there is actually any modern software available for the OS. Firefox requires OS X, and in my last article, I found out that Windows Media Player 9 also requires OS X. The past two versions of Cubase have been OS X only, and recent versions of Photoshop also require OS X.

This doesn't mean that you need to have the latest version of everything in order to be productive on your machine. I was very productive in Mac OS 9 on my blue G3, and on a beige G3 before that.

OS X added a bit of stability, as well as the ability to run a whole bunch of more modern applications that couldn't run under OS 9.

But what if your Mac can't run OS X or your machine isn't up to spec enough for it? You're not completely out of luck. While you won't be able to view recent Windows Media files on your computer, if you're running Mac OS 9, chances are you won't care about that anyway.

The things you might care about could include a modern word processor, a modern Web browser, and something decent to play MP3s with.

For the word processor, Microsoft Word 98 and 2001 both run just fine under Mac OS 9. The files they create are compatible with newer versions, too, although older versions of Word (5.1 and 6) won't be able to open them unless you specifically save them as Word 5 or 6 documents.

AppleWorks 5 and 6 are also options, although they're starting to look somewhat old now. AppleWorks 6 comes free with iBooks, iMacs, and eMacs. If you get an older version of it (6.1 or earlier, I believe), it'll run just fine on Mac OS 9 - but be aware that AppleWorks 5 won't open files created in version 6.

As for Web browsing, I pretty much ruled out Internet Explorer with my article on Firefox. If Firefox were available for Mac OS 9, I'd suggest it.

However, since it's not available, one proceeds to the next-best thing. Some might say that would be iCab. I hadn't used iCab in a while, so I decided to give it a try. I downloaded the latest version and was disappointed when it failed to render a number of websites correctly - including and

I searched everywhere for a popup blocker, but there seemed to be none. It's hard to believe that a web browser under development today doesn't include a popup blocker.

What seems to be the best browser for OS 9 would be Mozilla 1.3.1, which is available from the Unofficial Mozilla for Mac OS 9 website, or WaMCom, the Web and Mail Communicator build of Mozilla 1.3.1. (Download WaMCom here.)

Lastly, you can use Apple's iTunes 2.0 for MP3s, but I find that a bit limiting. It's based on SoundJam, and SoundJam 2.5.3 works just fine under Mac OS 9. It's a bit hard to find these days, but it the link used here worked when it was tested this week.

There's also Audion, which is now free and runs on both Mac OS 9 and OS X.

The combination of choice for me would be Word 2001, the WaMCom build of Mozilla, and Audion. This is perfect if you've got an OS X Mac and want to use the same software on both your OS 9 and X machines.

If you don't have quite enough RAM or processor power to spare for some of the larger programs, look around for a used copy of MacWrite II, MacWrite Pro, ClarisWorks, or Microsoft Word 5.1 (try eBay) and download Internet Explorer 2.1 (1.7 MB) and GrayAMP.

That combination will make even a Power Mac 6100 useful again.

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