Mac OS 8.6 Optimization Tricks

Mac OS 8.6 won't flabber-gast you with flashy new features. Instead, what you get is increased stability–fewer crashes–and a faster Mac. That's because Apple has made numerous "under the hood" changes–from improving how the Macintosh processor divides its time among multiple open applications to fixing a bushel of bugs.

Although most users will find updating to this system quick and painless, there are potholes lurking on the road to OS 8.6 success. If you're not alert to the dangers, it can seem as if 8.6 causes more problems than it fixes. Here's how to keep the road as smooth as possible.

The first trick is to get the OS to install the way you want it to.

Missing Files

Mac OS 8.6 includes updated versions of system software. However, if you use the Mac OS 8.6 Update (available free from Apple's Web site), you'll find that some of this software, such as ColorSync and Macintosh Runtime for Java, doesn't get installed. It's not a bug. Some of the software simply isn't included in the Update. To get the missing software, you have two choices: get the Mac OS 8.6 CD, which includes all the files (for $19.95 from Apple if you own OS 8.5; 800/795-1000) or get the additional files as separate downloads from Apple's Web site, at You'll find links to most of these files on the Update page, but in a few cases, you'll have to dig deeper. Two important files that you have to get elsewhere are Apple's OpenGL 1.0 ( ) and IomegaWare ( ). As a bonus for going the download route, you get software that's even newer than the versions included on the Mac OS 8.6 CD.

Finally, Apple goofed and forgot to put the updated Internet Access extension (version 1.3) in the Mac OS 8.6 Update. It's available only on the 8.6 CD. But don't worry, version 1.2 is almost identical.

Files That Won't Install

The Mac OS Update Installer can be fussy about what it decides to install. For starters, it won't install newer versions of certain files unless it finds an older version on your hard disk. In a few cases, it won't install the new version even if the old version is on your disk. For example, if you've moved Sherlock from its default location in the Apple Menu Items folder, Mac OS 8.6 Installer won't install the new version. Similarly, if you've renamed any Mac OS extensions or control panels (perhaps to modify their loading order), these may not get updated. One solution is to restore the original names and locations before updating. Otherwise, you can use Apple's TomeViewer utility to extract the desired files from the Mac OS 8.6 Tome (you'll find it buried in the Update Install Pieces folder) and install the files yourself.

Gone for Good

In a few cases, the Mac OS 8.6 Installer deliberately removes files from your disk without replacing them with an update. For instance, it gives the familiar Jigsaw Puzzle the heave-ho. It also disposes of the Desktop Printing Extension–an unnecessary extension that can cause freezes.

Once you've installed the OS successfully, watch out for these obstacles.

Memory Shortage

Some applications require about 300K more memory than they needed in Mac OS 8.5. It's a good idea to give a boost to any application that's acting up–select Get Info for the app, select Memory from the Show pop-up menu, and increase the Preferred Size. Sherlock is one program that will benefit from a memory increase of at least 300K if you've added many Sherlock Internet search-site plug-ins.

Font Bug

If you're experiencing system crashes, you could have a font problem. Certain older fonts can get corrupted under Mac OS 8.6. Even if you don't have such fonts in your System Folder, you may have one embedded in an application, such as the font your Mac uses to create bullets when you type a protected password. Currently, there are two solutions (and you can use both): Install DiamondSoft's Font Fixer for 8.6 extension ( ) or run the Corrupt FOND Fixer application, from Alsoft ( ).

Shutdown Failure

You may get an erroneous message when you attempt to shut down with OS 8.6 running on your Mac. The message says that you can't shut down because some applications have not quit. If this message appears even after you've quit all applications, any of various extensions may be the culprit. Try updating SwitchRes 1.5.X to version 2.0 or disabling LibMotosh, if you have either of those extensions.

Crash Course

Most remaining problems will likely require an updated version of some software. For example, printing from Adobe PageMaker 6.5.X can cause a crash when you're using Mac OS 8.6 (Adobe is working on a fix). The companion software to G3 processor upgrades (especially upgrades for the L2 cache slot of Power Mac 6400s and 6500s) has been known to cause start-up crashes under Mac OS 8.6. Check for an updated version.

Road repairs are over. It's time to relax and take your new OS for a spin.

See the sidebar "Give the Finder a Boost"

October 1999 page: 89

Do you have a wish list of features you'd like to add to the Finder? Your wishes may already have been granted. A collection of freeware and shareware patches enhances the power of the Finder.

Although none of these patches are exactly alike, they have significant overlap. For example, they all add command-key shortcuts (such as command-T for Empty Trash) to the Finder's menus. It's best to select the one that best suits your needs and use only that patch. Also, follow the directions that come with these patches very carefully–otherwise, the Finder may crash at start-up. (You can find links to all the patches mentioned here or at

Chakaranda's Mac OS 8.6 Finder Patch, Jon's OS 8.6 Mods, and Finder 8.6 Patch all primarily add assorted command-key shortcuts to the Finder's menu. Jon's OS 8.6 Mods and Finder 8.6 Patch go a step further, adding a Finder Quit command. You can use this command to quit the Finder similarly to the way you quit any other application. The benefits are that it frees up extra memory and possibly regains memory lost to a "leak." If you quit all other open applications, the Finder will relaunch. As a bonus, you can hold down command-option and rebuild the desktop without needing to restart the Mac.

Jerry's Finder 8 Patch combines almost all the features of the previous three patches and then heads off into new territory. It increases the memory allocation to the Finder (which may help reduce Finder crashes and let you keep more windows open). It also modifies the Finder's naming schemes. For example, if you're tired of deleting the alias suffix from the name of every alias file you create, you can use this patch to keep the suffix from appearing.

8Tuner is more than a patch–it's an application that gives you complete control over which of its many options to install (see "Customize the Finder"). Among the options you can choose from are the Finder Menu Tuner, which lets you select your own command-key shortcuts for Finder menu items, and Identity Tuner, which lets you change the text About This Computer in the Apple menu to anything you want, such as About Ted's G3 Speed Demon. And, like Jerry's Finder 8 Patch, 8Tuner enables you to change the default names of aliases, file copies, and untitled folders.

Customize the Finder   If there's something about the Finder that you don't like, such as the way it names copied files (the option shown here) or its default command-key shortcuts, 8Tuner will be happy to change it.
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