Mac OS Compatibility

Updated: 7 Feb 2021

1. Does Mac OS comes with a command line?

Yes, it does come with a command line. To open a command line, open Applications, Utilties and select Terminal. This loads the bash terminal, you can then run command line type programs, type Exit when done. Other shells are available including sh, ksh, tcsh and zsh. You can change the default shell via Terminal Preferences, Startup tab and set it to /bin/shellname or use the chsh command.

You can also access the command line at boot up by pressing Command+S for Single user mode or Command+V for verbose mode.

Colour terminal

More infomation about bash commands for Mac OS, visit, the bash command list or zsh manual page.

2. Can I get old programs to run under Mac OS?

For pre-Mac OS X computers, Classic Mac OS, you can use an emulator such as Basilisk, or Sheepshaver.
Some of the very old versions of MacOS X include Mac OS 9, but it is possible to download it from here.

For PowerPC only programs, or old 32 bit programs, you can use a Virtual Machine under VMWare Fusion, Parallels, QEmu or Virtual Box to run and emulate another version of Mac OS (upto MacOS 10.6 - Snow Leopard). All versions of Mac OS from 10.7 (Lion) are now compatible with Intel or Universal programs only.

Mac OS 11.0 (Big Sur) now supports Intel and ARM M1 programs using the new Universal app format and Rosetta to run Intel apps on M1 Macs.

3. Where is the web server in Mac OS?

Mac OS comes with a web server called Apache which is installed by default. You can enable the Web Server, by opening System Preferences, Sharing, then enable File & Web or Web Sharing. Click the button labelled Start to start Apache. Otherwise, open terminal and enter sudo apachectl start to start the Apache web server. Access the web page via in the browser.

You can set up your web pages in the default \Users\username\Sites folder on your Mac.

4. How do I share a printer on Mac with another Mac or Windows PC?

Yes, you can enable sharing for Printers in Mac OS with other computers. In System Preferences, Sharing enable Printer Sharing. If enabling with Windows users, you will also need to enable Windows Sharing and configure a user account to share the printer. Any drivers have to be installed by the user on the other computer.

8. I cannot run Java applications or Applets. Where can I download Java?

You can download the Java Runtime files (JRE) from the Java website. You can also download the Software Development Kit (SDK) and program developments tools such as NetBeans from the same site. For older Adobe products, you may need to install Java 6.

9. Can I run Linux or Windows as well as or intead of Mac OS?

Yes, on the old PowerPC Macs there is Ubuntu Linux and Morphos. Now, with Intel Macs, you can install most distributions of Linux including Ubuntu, Mint Linux, SuSE, Fedora etc.
You can run some linux/unix programs directly on X Windows using a tool such as XQuartz which provides X11 unix functionality in Mac OS.
You can run Windows 7 or later and Linux on the Mac via Bootcamp or a Virtual Machine. Windows XP and Vista are no longer supported with Bootcamp.

10. Can I run MacOS on the ARM processor?

The latest version of MacOS 11 ,called Big Sur, can be run on Macs with the ARM processor.
A open source version of the kernel called Darwin-XNU is available on GitHub and Apple sites. See Apple's OpenSource page for other projects.
There is also a port of ReactOS on the ARM processor.

11. Can I run PowerPC Apps or OS on the Mac?

No, not on modern Macs. Only Macs prior to 2009 can run PowerPC programs on Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or earlier. A translator called Rosetta allowed Intel/PowerPC programs to be run on same system until 2009. Current Macs can only run Intel or Universal compiled programs. Big Sur will be able to run Intel applications in ARM based Macs using Rosetta 2.

12. What version of MacOS can I run 32 bit Intel apps?

You can run Intel 32 bit applications from MacOS 10.4 Tiger (first Intel supported version) to MacOS 10.14 Mojave. MacOS 10.15 Catalina or later, can only run 64-bit Applications.

13. The Flash Player is due to be removed. Can I still play FLV or SWF files?

You can play a lot of media files, including FLV and SWF files using a media player such as VLC Player.

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