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PowerBook 160 Tip

[In honor of this issue number, we present the following PowerBook 160 tip from Conrad Halling. -Adam]

If you set the screen to 16 grays using the Monitors control panel, you’ll notice that the scroll bars and grow region of a document window draw using grays but that the title bar, including the go away box and the zoom box, show in black and white. On any other Macintosh, if you set the monitor to 16 grays (16 colors doesn’t work), the title bar of the window draws using the grays. What’s going on here? Why is a regular feature of the Macintosh interface disabled on the PowerBook 160?

A ‘WDEF’ resource controls window drawing. Apple wrote a special WDEF resource just for the PowerBook 160 that causes the title bar to be drawn in black on white on a PowerBook 160 screen. This is because the "swimming pixel" illusion is plainly visible in a title bar drawn using the grays. However, as PowerBook 160 owners know, the six horizontal black lines in the title bar of a window cause annoying shadows on the screen. If you, like me, prefer your windows drawn in the standard manner, this tip explains how avoid the black and white title bars.

The custom ‘WDEF’ resource is contained in the "System Enabler 111" file in the System folder of a PowerBook 160. This ‘WDEF’ resource can be removed using ResEdit 2.1.1 (available from Once you remove the custom ‘WDEF’ resource, the next time you restart, the system software will use the standard ‘WDEF’ resource from the System file.

Here’s how to make the change:

  1. Standard warning: use ResEdit only with a copy of a file, never with the original. It is easy to screw things up so bad that you’ll have to reinstall the system. Disclaimer: I have done this on my own PowerBook 160, but I am in no way responsible if you screw up and lose all your files. If you’re not sure of what you’re doing, at least back up all your files before you start, and have your System 7.1 installation disks handy. It’s very unlikely that you’ll need them, but just in case….
  2. Open the System Folder. Holding down the option key, drag the "System Enabler 111" file to the desktop. The Finder makes a copy of this file on the desktop; the original remains in the System folder. You will make changes only to the copy on the desktop.
  3. Use ResEdit to open the copy of "System Enabler 111" that is on the desktop.
  4. Click on the ‘WDEF’ line (or icon, depending on how you have set up the views of the resources). From the Edit menu, choose Cut or Clear. The ‘WDEF’ resource will be deleted.
  5. Save the file and close it (but don’t quit ResEdit).
  6. In the File menu, choose Get File/Folder Info…. Open the modified copy of "System Enabler 111" that is on the desktop.
  7. Click the check box that unlocks the file. Then change the name of the file to something like "System Enabler 111 (modified)". Click the check box that locks the file.
  8. Save the file and quit ResEdit.
  9. Create a new folder in the System folder named something like "Unmodified System Enabler".
  10. Drag the original "System Enabler 111" file into the new folder.
  11. Drag the modified system enabler "System Enabler 111 (modified)" into the System folder. You have now replaced the original system enabler with the modified one, and you have cleverly saved a copy of the original system enabler where the system software can’t see it. However, no changes will occur until you restart your computer (but WAIT! – don’t do a restart just yet).
  12. If you haven’t already done so, use the Monitors control panel to set your screen to 16 grays or 16 colors.
  13. Find your Disk Tools disk that came with the System 7.1 disks. You will need this if anything goes wrong.
  14. Restart your PowerBook 160. Open a window if one isn’t already open. The title bar should now be drawn in grays.
  15. If something has gone wrong (the PowerBook will not start if the System Enabler file is missing or grossly damaged), restart your PowerBook 160 using the Disk Tools disk (I told you to get it earlier, didn’t I?). Drag the modified system enabler "System Enabler 111 (modified)" to the trash, and drag the unmodified "System Enabler 111" from the "Unmodified System Enabler" folder into the "System" folder. Restart your computer.

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