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System 7 FAQ

System 7 has been out for several years now, and although some people have yet to switch to it (mostly for incorrect reasons or because it’s too much trouble), System 7 is probably the most common System version in use. Apple released System 7.1 last fall, but the modules that make 7.1 a compelling upgrade have only begun to appear. In the meantime, here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) about Apple and System 7 that we did not cover way back in TidBITS#104/System 7. If you use System 7 and have questions beyond these, please check that issue because it answers a ton of common questions.

Errors and Solutions

  • Q1) My System is taking up way too much RAM. What is wrong?
  • A1) You need to turn on 32-bit addressing. Under 24-bit addressing (this is what you are in when 32-bit addressing is off) all RAM above 8 MB is mapped to the System but not used (nice interface!). Warning: first make sure hard disk drivers, NuBus cards, Control Panels, extensions and all applications are 32-bit compatible!


  • Q2) What should I do if I come across really weird system errors like "Bad F-Line," "Bus Error," or "Error of type 25?"
  • A2) If 32-bit addressing and/or Virtual Memory are on, try turning them off, restarting, and testing your system. If the problems go away, you may have an extension or application that is incompatible with 32-bit addressing or Virtual Memory. If strange problems persist, try disconnecting your SCSI chain. If strange problems persist, try a clean install (boot with Disk Tools, put your System and Finder in the Trash, empty the Trash, and then boot again with your first Install Disk [usually Install 1]. If you run System 7.1, remove your Fonts folder from the System Folder as well when you are booted under Disk Tools.). If strange problems still persist, backup your files, reformat the hard disk, and restore your files. If strange problems still persist, as a last resort try other disks, try other SIMMs, re-seat your NuBus cards in different slots, or have diagnostics run on the hardware. Also, do call the appropriate technical support line (or send email to companies that do online tech support) before you go to a great deal of trouble re-installing things. Sometimes support can’t help at all; sometimes support can save you a great deal of time.


  • Q3) When I add fonts to my System I get an error message saying the System file is damaged. Sometimes when I double click a suitcase of bitmaps I get the same message. What is wrong?

  • A3) The bitmaps in the system or in the suitcase have been compressed with Suitcase’s Font Valet or are "damaged" according to System 7. If the System file is damaged and you have another source for the fonts installed in the System, boot from a floppy, trash the System file, empty the trash, reinstall with the installer to build a new System file, and then reinstall the fonts. If the fonts are bad, System 7 will not let you install them. If you have no backup of fonts INSIDE a damaged suitcase or damaged System file, put Font/DA Mover 4.1 on your hard disk, boot from a floppy with System 6.0.x, open the Font/DA Mover, then hold down the option key, click open, and you will be able to open the "damaged" System or suitcase and copy the fonts to another suitcase. Split up the suspect fonts into smaller suitcases, reboot under System 7 and try opening the suitcases. By trial and error you can determine which fonts the Mac is choking on.


  • Q4) What should I do if Get Info windows and some other windows display the wrong font?

  • A4) Your system font is messed up. The setting for the system font is stored in PRAM (Parameter RAM). To fix the problem zap your PRAM by holding down command-option-p-r (be sure Caps Lock is off!) at boot time, and then let go at the second startup chime.


  • Q5) My desktop patterns are black & white or messed up. What do I do?

  • A5) Use ResEdit and copy an unmodified ppat resource from the System 7 disks to your System file OR boot from a floppy, trash the System file, and reinstall.


  • Q6) With File Sharing on, why can’t I eject removable media even when it is not shared?

  • A6) Actually, it is shared for the owner. As owner you can log in and have access to all volumes. To eject removable media, turn off File Sharing or mount it after File Sharing has already started. AppleShare 3.0 does support unmounting removable media. Also look for a free utility from Apple called UnMountIt, which I haven’t seen on the Internet yet, but which was uploaded to CompuServe’s MACDEV libraries.


  • Q7) File Sharing cannot be enabled. What could be wrong?

  • A7) There has to be some free space on each volume (to be safe, have 1 MB free), the hard disk driver may need to be updated, the Users & Groups Data File may be corrupt (trash it and restart), the PDS files may be bad (trash them, they are in the File Sharing folder inside Preferences), the invisible AppleShare PDS file may be corrupted (make it visible with DiskTop or ResEdit and then trash it), or there may be a bad block, which means you’ll have to backup your files, reformat the hard disk, and restore your files.


General Questions

  • Q8) Why don’t I get 8-bit icons for floppies and CD-ROMs?
  • A8) Because of the way the drivers are written. Then why is there an 8-bit icon for floppies? For dialogs like the one used in the Installer. Look for a freeware extension from Andrew Welch called Discolour – it will give you nice icons for floppies.


  • Q9) How do I avoid rebuilding the desktop files when switching between System 6 and System 7?

  • A9) Get the Desktop Manager extension and load it in your System 6.0.x System Folder. It’s part of AppleShare 2.0.1, part of the Oscar package at, and part of the Eudora mail package. If you don’t have FTP access, get someone that has FTP access to get it for you or get AppleShare 2 (which is no longer sold).


  • Q10) What’s the email address for Apple?

  • A10) There is no general email address. For bug reporting you can send email to <[email protected]>. For complaints and information, but NOT technical support call the Apple Assistance Center at 800/776-2333.


  • Q11) What are files in the image format?

  • A11) They are files in the DiskCopy format. Get DiskCopy or MountImage to work with them.


  • Q12) How do I do a network install?

  • A12) Make a "Network Install" folder on your hard disk. Then insert each disk necessary for the install, and drag the floppy icon on top of the "Network Install" folder. This will create folders inside the "Network Install" folder. Move the Installer and install script out of the "Install 1" folder to the top level of the "Network Install" folder. Then share the "Network Install" folder and launch the installer over the network.


  • Q13) What printer driver do I use with my LaserWriter IISC under System 7?

  • A13) The 7.0 Personal LaserWriter SC driver on the Printing Tools disk.


  • Q14) Why does Virtual Memory create a file the same size as total memory? Why not a file the size of the difference between physical RAM and total RAM?

  • A14) Because it’s a gazillion times faster. [Connectix does not agree and Virtual 3.0 has a Disk Saver mode that uses only the space you request.]


  • Q15) Is there a System 7 compatible spooler for the ImageWriter?

  • A15) Yes, SuperLaserSpool 3.0 from 5th Generation Systems. 800/873-4384. This works with all four flavors of the ImageWriter (serial or AppleTalk with the regular ImageWriter or the ImageWriter LQ).


  • Q16) Where can I get ResEdit?

  • A16), some user groups or APDA (800/282-2732 from the US, 800/637-0029 from Canada, or 408/562-3910 for international). APDA = Apple Programmers & Developers Association.


  • Q17) I’ve heard there is unused space on my Apple HD? How can I use it? Why is there unused space?

  • A17) With Apple HD SC Setup you can see some information about the hard disk. Click Partitions, click Custom, and then click Details. There is usually unused space on Apple hard drives; you will see gray space in the bottom of your partition map with the size to the left. If you reformat your hard drive you can use this unused space. Backup your entire disk then boot from a floppy containing Apple HD SC Setup, click Partition, select your main Macintosh volume and delete it, click Custom, click and drag from just below the top partition all the way to the bottom, select Macintosh volume in the resulting dialog and then you will not be wasting any space on your hard drive. There is unused space because Apple gets hard disks from various vendors (various sizes) and wants them to look the same after the default formatting. So all 40 MB hard disks are formatted at a certain size; if the drive happens to really be 42 MB, there is 2 MB of unused space.


  • Q18) Sometimes I see a folder named Move&Rename at the top level of my hard disk. What is that?

  • A18) It is a folder created and used by System 7 File Sharing. If you turn off File Sharing the Macintosh will delete it. Just ignore it and do not save anything into it as the folder is invisible!


  • Q19) When I press my shift key five times in a row my machine whistles at me and a funny little bracket shows up in the menu bar. Do I have a virus?

  • A19) It’s a feature of Easy Access, a Control Panel that allows people allergic to mice to use the keyboard instead.


  • Q20) I have System 7, should I upgrade to 7.0.1?

  • A20) For 98% of people – don’t bother. The changes are minor and the new SANE routines which speed up a very few math-intensive applications only help people with IIci’s or better and only help applications that use the SANE routines rather than using the FPU directly. If you really want it, it’s available through, dealers, user groups and online services. More importantly, get the System 7 Tune Up 1.1.1.


  • Q21) Should I upgrade to 7.1?

  • A21) Yes, if you like the idea of a separate folder for fonts, instead of storing them in the System file. Yes, if you don’t want to worry about what version of Tune Up you have installed since 7.1 includes the various Tune-Ups built in. Yes, if you are excited about future add-ons (like OCE and AppleScript) and want to be ready now. No, if you have a 32-bit dirty Mac (like a II, IIcx, IIx, or SE/30), use more than 8 MB of RAM and don’t want to worry about what software to use in order to access all of your RAM (see TidBITS #167 for more info). No, if you don’t want to pay for the upgrade. No, if your Mac works great now and you don’t need any of the Yes reasons just yet.


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