There are still features from the late 90s Mac OS that work better than in the present day system software.

This is astonishing since there have been so many system software releases since then, nearly twenty updates from when Mac OS 9 came out. This proves that good tech isn't just about capable computers. It is just as much having to do with those who argue for why things work the way they do.

Pop Up Folders

How the Stacks functionality should work today

This was super handy. The bottom of the screen was totally empty since there was nothing like the MacOS X dock or Windows taskbar. This meant you could drag the title bar for a window to the bottom and it would turn into a tab. These tabs could be dragged around or spaced apart however you wanted to organize them for whatever project you were working on. Dragging a folder to the bottom now just gives you a blank folder icon with no label as of what is inside of it. What do you do if you have five folders? You just have to guess. Before it was as easy as clicking on the title of a tab in your web browser.

There was an update to how you interacted with folders in the dock in 2007 called “Stacks” and yet again still doesn’t catch up to the way 1998 Classic Mac OS works. The Classic pop-up menus allowed you to select multiple files at once but stacks will only let to select one file at a time. In order to select more than one you would need to scroll all the way to the bottom and click “open in Finder.”

Why can’t they just re-create all the Finder operations right within stacks as was pretty much the case before? When the feature came out in 8.5 it was already very close to working right on the first try. They didn’t have to undergo countless tweaks to get it right yet despite almost perfecting it they removed this functionality after 9.2. At the time some people kept saying Classic Mac OS was falling behind but to me that criticism ignores advantages it had then and still has today.

Open and Save Menus

Split types of files apart leaves more room each category

in Mac OS 9 would have a separate dropdown for favorites, recents, and network. As of 10.0 these were all lumped into one dropdown which I feel is usually too many things grouped together. There are mediocre third party add-ons that try to address this problem but they add a lot of extra interface components around the window. This solution doesn’t have the nice balance between minimalism and functionality. Apple is sometimes guilty of making things so simple that it actually makes it more difficult to use. This is one case of that. They dumped favorites into the sidebar but it is already too full with things.

iMac 1998 and 2021

How the iMac changed from its orgin in 1998

With the emergence of the 2021 iMac and how it has drawn comparisons to the similarly colorful 90s original I wanted to address a couple points others skip over.

Yes the latest model dumps legacy ports much like the 1998 model parted with legacy ports of its own time. It needs to be said that narrowing the port selection down to 4 USC-C and one ethernet needed to be done. Today there is an unwieldily seven different shaped USB ports which make it a nightmare to plug in different cables. Manufactures can’t keep adding new shaped ports forever. Eventually some of them need to be phased out. The biggest complaint with going all USB-C that I’ve heard from nearly all tech reviewers is that it forces you to use dongles. No it doesn’t. Just replace the cable with the modern USB-C ones. There was only one peripheral which was a problem for me to make the transition complete. It was a Logitech webcam where the cable couldn’t be removed that I replaced with a much better USB-C webcam / mic in one. I don’t feel replacing one aging cheap piece of tech is the ultimate sacrifice.

Now for what I think could be better about the 2021 iMac. I would love if it came with built-in Blu-ray because I know a disc drive could fit even in that super thin side. Where USB has splintered into a maddening array of incompatible ports over the years the 5 ¼ disc drive keeps the same size for compatibility from DVD all the way to 4K discs.Streaming and downloading HD or 4K only works if you have a very good connection or a ton of internal storage. Good blu-rays can often be found for pocket change these days (The last movie review I did that included a reference to “Seven Years in Tibet” was bought at a pawn shop for $3.) I just don’t think old tech should be thrown out if it still does many things better than current tech. Unfortunately this isn’t a problem that can be solved by just plugging in an external drive as the external computer Blu-ray drives I have used are extremely loud. The current one I need to wrap up in shirts to muffle the noise! I’m not joking. I stream and download BTW I just don’t think it should be the only option.

All said it’s nice to see a major update to a Mac in the Tim Cook era!