How to switch between Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X 10.4 or earlier

You can easily switch the active, or "startup," operating system by changing the Startup Disk selection and restarting.

The steps below will only work if both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X 10.4.x or earlier are installed on your computer. Computers come from Apple this way, but not all computers can start up in Mac OS 9. On certain computers, you can select the startup operating system when you turn on the computer. For other computers, or to make a permanent selection, you can use Startup Disk preferences. Learn how to:
Switch from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X 10.4.x or earlier
Switch from Mac OS X 10.4.x or earlier to Mac OS 9

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

Switching from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X

Step 1: Open the Startup Disk control panel. You see your hard disk volume(s) in a list that also includes Network Disk as shown here. You can ignore Network Disk.

Startup Disk control panel with several hard disk volumes

The current startup volume is highlighted. In this example, it's the disk named Brendan. If different versions of Mac OS are available on different hard disk volumes, they are noted in the Version column. In many cases, both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X will be installed on the same volume.

Step 2: Click the disclosure triangle next to a volume to see what system software it contains. More than one startup choice is listed on the volume "main drive," where both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X are installed.

Two system software installations on "main drive"

Step 3: From the list, select the Mac OS X System you want to use as the startup disk.

Step 4: Click Restart.

If Mac OS X does not start up, you can do some basic troubleshooting.

Switching from Mac OS X to Mac OS 9

Step 1: From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences.

Step 2: From the View menu, choose Startup Disk. The Startup Disk pane appears, and the current startup System Folder is highlighted. The text below the slider also notes the selection, as shown here.

Mac OS X 10.1.2 on main drive selected

Step 3: Look at the lock button. If the lock appears closed, click the button to make changes. Enter an administrator account name and password, then click OK.

Step 4: Click the System Folder icon for Mac OS 9 disk you want to use as the startup disk.

When many choice are available, drag the slider to see additional choices. A gold "9" badge appears on the icon of a Mac OS 9 System Folder if it is located on the same volume as Mac OS X.

Mac OS 9.2.2 on main drive selected

Step 5: For Mac OS X 10.1 and later, click the Restart button. A confirmation dialog appears. Click Save and Restart. In versions of Mac OS X prior to 10.1, the restart button does not appear here. Instead, choose Restart from the Apple menu.

Confirmation dialog for change of startup disk

See this article for more information

106719 Mac OS X: How to Use Mac OS 9 Applications

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