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Which browser for black & white Macs?

The choice is limited when it comes to World Wide Web browsers for monochrome Macs with 68000 CPUs like the SE and Plus - there's TradeWave's MacWeb, or a very early version of NCSA Mosaic. Neither has the features of Netscape or Micro$oft Internet Explorer, of course, but they work on our antique machines.

MacLynx logoIF you don't need a graphical browser, you might want to try out MacLynx, a port to the Mac of the well-known Lynx text-only web browser.

Note that some black and white Macs can run later graphical browsers, at least in theory. Although machines like the SE/30 don't have colour, they do have Color QuickDraw capability, which means that, for instance, older versions of the Netscape browser will be OK. The problem is likely to be their enormous appetite for RAM, which an old Mac may not have. In that case Netscape 2.02 may be a solution - its suggested memory requirement is 4296k, but the minimum is only 2560k.

All of the browsers detailed on this page require a Mac running System 7. If you still use System 6, the only option is MacWWW (also known as "Samba").

NCSA Mosaic

NCSA Mosaic 1.0.3 is old and slow, and can't handle the many Web features that came along after it was released. Its advantage is that it can display some in-line graphics (but not JPEGs) even on black and white Macs. However, the images are fairly crude, and it requires System 7.

Download NCSA Mosaic 1.0.3


MacWeb is a better bet. All you need to browse the Web is the application itself, and that weighs in at a mere 680k for the latest version on 680x0 Macs - it'll run off an 800k floppy with 99k to spare for your hotlists and bookmarks! It doesn't create complex folder structures in your System Folder, installs no extensions, patches no traps. The memory requirement is equally lean, a minimum of one megabyte for the latest release, 750k for earlier versions. And this gives you a browser that will also do ftp transfers, gopher, news, and more.

But MacWeb can't display inline graphics at all on 68000 Macs with mono screens (though there's a partial workaround - see later). It also requires System 7. Black & white 68030 machines like the SE/30 have no trouble with graphics, though.

TradeWave, the company that released MacWeb, no longer distributes it as a standalone browser, but these versions are still available for download on the net:

Download MacWeb 1.00A3.2
Download MacWeb 1.1.1E
Download MacWeb 2.0 from France, or Belgium (User name: anonymous. Password: your email address).
Download French version of MacWeb 1.1.1E from Belgium.
Download French version of MacWeb 2.0 from Belgium.

If you're going to use MacWeb 2.0 on a black and white Mac with 68000 CPU like the SE, MacWeb 2.0c patch fixes an annoying screen-handling bug (see "So which MacWeb version should I use?" below). You don't need it on mono Macs that understand Color QuickDraw, like the SE/30. I haven't verified that the patch works on the French version of MacWeb. If you discover that it does, please let me know.

MacWeb 2.0 was also distributed on the CD that came with the February 1997 US edition of Macworld magazine (not the ones sent abroad, though). It may be hidden deep within the folder structure, or even inside an archive file. Look for the AOL section and hunt around - it's there somewhere. MacWeb 2.0 uses the Internet Config program for many of its settings. This may also come on the Macworld CD, but is not included in the MacWeb2.sit.hqx archives above. You can get it from just about any Mac shareware archive, though, or here:

Download Internet Config 1.4

So which MacWeb version should I use?

THERE were few obvious changes between version 1.00A3.2 and 1.1.1E, and many people still use the former. (Note, however, that there was a short-lived release that came between these two which limited the number of Web pages you could download before it expired. You could start the count again by trashing the prefs file! The download limit disappeared in version 1.1.1E).

There have been reports that 1.1.1E crashes when saving prefs. It doesn't crash on my SE with a 68020 accelerator, but you might be safer with one of the other versions.

MacWeb 2.0 has many more features than the earlier versions, but this comes at a price. Previously, MacWeb ignored the many HTML "tags" it didn't know how to handle, like tables, image alignment etc. This was one of the reasons it displayed pages much faster than the increasingly bloated Netscape. With version 2.0, MacWeb now interprets many of these tags, and so takes much longer to render heavily-formatted pages in the browser window. In extreme cases this 'pagination' can take so long you may think your Mac has crashed - it probably hasn't, but if you're paying for a dial-up net connection this isn't much comfort. To set against that, many of these fancy-formatted web sites are impossible to make sense of without the formatting, and before MacWeb 2.0 I tended to avoid them. Now they look OK, if not always worth the wait....

On black and white Macs with 68000 CPUs MacWeb 2.0 sometimes "blacks out" all or part of its window when you're navigating around a web page. This seems to be caused by HTML code that sets a colour for the page background. The most reliable way I've found to deal with it is to move the horizontal scroll box all the way to the right so that the (blacked-out) text disappears off to the left, then move the scroll box back again. When the text reappears, it's OK. This has worked for me every time.

A better solution has been provided by Antoine Hebert, whose MacWeb 2.0c patch fixes the bug. It makes MacWeb 2.0 ignore page background colours, and is only needed if MacWeb is running on a black and white Mac with 68000 CPU like the SE. You don't need it on mono Macs that understand Color QuickDraw, like the SE/30.

Another glitch - MacWeb 2.0 doesn't seem to handle radio buttons or checkboxes in web page forms on black and white Macs. This is very annoying, since earlier versions handled them just fine!

In short, the two earlier MacWeb versions are faster but limited, while MacWeb 2.0, though it can be slow and temperamental, is much better at coping with today's Web. So far I've found v2.0 worth the hassle. In addition, MacWeb 2.0 comes with documentation - the others didn't. Selecting "MacWeb Help" under the Help menu won't do anything. It used to connect to the TradeWave server which merely sent the message "Document under construction". Now it just provides a link to this page.

In fact, many of the links to web pages in MacWeb's various menus are now out of date. It should be possible to change them to something useful (I haven't tried it yet), but you'll need to use Apple's ResEdit utility to patch the MacWeb application itself. If you're comfortable using ResEdit, or want to experiment on a copy of the MacWeb file, try this ....

Open MacWeb's STR# resources, where you'll find the editable menu and Help strings with their corresponding URLs. The two resources you need to change are:

MacWeb 2.0
STR# 256 (Help menu)
STR# 258 (Tradewave links)
MacWeb 1.1.1.E
STR# 256 (Help menu)
STR# 257 (Tradewave links)

One problem I've found with all versions is that when you paste rather than type a URL into the "Open URL" window, it often doesn't work. But, if you delete one or more characters (e.g., the last letter) of the pasted text, then replace it again, it does work - as if MacWeb assumes the input window is empty if it hasn't detected any character-key-presses.

Setting up MacWeb 2.0

THE first time you launch MacWeb 2.0 you won't have had a chance to change its preferences from the defaults. But if you've got a black and white Mac, the defaults aren't very useful. MacWeb may automatically load its main help page and the GIF-format graphics it contains. Since "Autoload images" is set to "on" by default, you'll get an annoying dialog popping up for every image because your mono Mac can't show them. To stop this happening, you need to change some settings.

You can do this from within MacWeb, if you ever get past the repeating-dialogs problem (if not, see below). Select preferences, under the Edit menu. Go to Format prefs and uncheck "Autoload images". Now the default help page will still be loaded on start-up, but MacWeb won't try to display its graphics.

If you don't want a default page to open at all, go to General prefs and click on the underlined words "Home URL". Internet Config will launch and you can delete any entry there for "WWW Home Page". Close the window and go back to MacWeb.

Now go to MacWeb's File-map prefs and click on the underlined words "File Mappings". This will switch you back to the relevant part of Internet Config. Find an entry for the file extension ".gif" and click on Change. Now uncheck the box that says "Post process". You could do the same for ".jpg", ".jpe", and ".jpeg" to stop MacWeb trying to find a helper for JPEG images too. Save changes and quit Internet Config.

An alternative method is to change the "WWW Home Page" and "File Mappings" prefs directly in Internet Config without involving MacWeb. You'll find them under "Other Services" and "File Mappings".

MacWeb 1.x instructions...

... from Adam Engst's "Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh"
... from campus information server at the London School of Economics
... at MacWeb Hints & Tips Page

Viewing images with MacWeb

WITH all versions of MacWeb you have to use an external helper to see images on black and white Macs (click and hold on an image icon, choose "Retrieve to Disk" or "Get image and save as..." from the pop-up menu, then view the GIFs and JPEGs you retrieved with GIFConverter 2.3.7 or GIFs only with GIFwatcher DA). Even on a four megabyte machine, you won't have enough RAM to run both MacWeb and GIFConverter unless you're using a utility like RAM Charger (with documentation), so you'll have to wait till you can quit MacWeb.

Download GIFConverter 2.3.7
Download GIFwatcher 2.1.2
Download GIFwatcher 2.2.0

Can you get MacWeb to show GIFs automatically on a 4MB Mac? Yes!

USUALLY, MacWeb opens GIFs internally, but this is not possible on monochrome machines with 68000 CPUs because they can't use Color QuickDraw. GIFwatcher DA can display GIFs by dithering the colours to black and white stipple patterns. GIFConverter also does this, but GIFwatcher uses a relatively small amount of memory, so you can run it alongside MacWeb if you have four megs.

Problem is, only applications can be selected as "helpers" for MacWeb, and GIFwatcher isn't an application - it's an old-style desk accessory and won't appear in the file list if you try to select it as a helper. Not to worry, a shareware package called "DA Piggyback" can transform DAs into applications.

Download DA Piggyback 1.5

One point worth noting is that you can't reliably change GIFwatcher's default settings (including the initial window size or position) once the DA has been converted to an application - you have to set it up the way you want first, then run it through DA PiggyBack. Also, you might have to click on GIFwatcher's title-bar to select its window from MacWeb - clicking elsewhere in the window sometimes has no effect.

Once you've turned GIFwatcher into an application, open its "Get info" window in the Finder and give it a Preferred and Minimum memory partition of about 150k. This should be enough for most Web page GIFs. You can ignore any warning that you've allowed less memory than the suggested amount.

What you need to do next depends on which version of MacWeb you're using.

With versions before MacWeb 2.0, choose "Helpers..." from the Edit menu. You're presented with a list of "MIME types". Select "image/gif" and click on Edit. On the next screen, click on "More choices". Make sure the "Don't Launch" checkbox is unchecked. Then, just below and to the right of where it says "Launch the application with this signature: ", click on "Select...". Find GIFwatcher and open it. Now keep clicking "OK" until all the helper windows disappear. Next, under the file menu, select "Preferences", then "Format", and turn "Autoload images" off - you must view each GIF separately with no clickable links.

With MacWeb 2.0, "helper" settings are controlled through Internet Config. Under MacWeb's Edit menu select Preferences and scroll down the list on the left to "File map". Click on it, then on the words "File Mappings". Internet Config launches and displays a list of file suffixes and their related file types and helper applications. Scroll down the list till you see the file extension ".gif" and select it. Click on "Change". Make sure the "Post Process" box is checked, then click on the large button directly to the right, which will show the name of some default image-viewing program, probably JPEGView. A file-selector dialogue appears, so find GIFwatcher and open it. Now click on "OK", then close the "File Mappings" window. From the menu bar choose "File" and "Save", then quit Internet Config.

The next time you click on a web page GIF image icon in MacWeb 2.0, GIFwatcher will launch automatically and display it. In MacWeb versions before 2.0, you must command-click on the icon.

Viewing memory-hungry JPEGs

YOU can download JPEG image files to disk and view them with GIFConverter, but sometimes you'll find that images with "millions" of colours need more memory to open than you've got. A way round this is to convert the JPEG to a GIF. GIFs are limited to 256 colours or greys, and so use less memory. A GIF made this way looks identical to the original JPEG on black and white screens. The trouble is that most image-converter programs refuse to run on black and white Macs, and in any case may need to open the JPEG in order to convert it - and that's just what you cannot do! To the rescue comes JPEG Convert, a freeware application that can batch process your image files. It also converts GIFs to JPEGs.

Download JPEG Convert 1.0

Cut-and-Paste text

UNLIKE just about any other Mac application, you can't select and copy text from MacWeb's window to the clipboard. To get round this, I installed an FKEY called "Text Capture", which allows you to select and copy text from any window (or dialog box etc). Note that this gives you editable text, not a graphic image of text.

Download Text Capture FKEY 2.3

Proxy servers

ALL versions of MacWeb can use "proxy servers" for the Web, ftp, gopher and WAIS. Proxy servers are set up by your network admin or ISP to cache files downloaded by users. This means that popular downloads are accessed from local disks rather than from the Net, speeding up access. In MacWeb 2.0 you can set these proxies directly in your Preferences, but with earlier versions you need to use ResEdit.

Open a copy of MacWeb with ResEdit and edit STR# resource number 803 (labelled "Proxy Info"). You can configure MacWeb for ftp, gopher, http and WAIS. Strings are of the form:


Don't use these URLs, they're just examples! Use ones provided by your network administrator or ISP. "No proxy" is also supported - edit STR# resource 804, e.g.

This means don't use the proxy server for any URLs that end in or .com .

Further ResEdit instructions for proxy support in MacWeb 1.00A3.2
Download ResEdit 2.1.3

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Please leave your comments...

Do you have any tips for using MacWeb not mentioned here? Do you know of any online resources apart from the ones listed? Spotted any mistakes? Are any links dead? If so, or if you have any other comment to make, please type a message in the box and click the 'SEND' button, or email me at

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MacWeb 2.0 fails to show radio buttons and checkboxes in some circumstances.
Can you see a radio button at the end of this line? If so, please turn it on:
Can you see a checkbox at the end of this line? If so, please check it:

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