Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Copy a Bootable Mac OS 9 Install Disc

So with the recent turning of the calendar, I looked at my Tiger and OS 9 install discs and it occurred to me they're getting on in years and very far from invincible. Time to make backups, I thought. So I fired up my burning app of choice,, and made quick copies thinking I was done. Unfortunately I got a nasty surprise when I went to boot my iBook with the OS 9 copy to fix Debian's notorious disappearing partitions bug and found it unbootable. The Tiger DVD copy booted fine. It was only the OS 9 CD that was blurgged.

Okay, I thought, there's something wrong with the way Burn copies OS 9 discs. I'll just fire up Disk Utility and do it that way. One burned disc later and, crap, that won't boot either. So after googling this a bit and filtering out forum posts responding to questions saying, "Google it!" it appears the only way to burn a bootable OS 9 disc is with Toast. I tried it with my ancient copy of Toast 4.1.1 (that was a good year) which still runs in 9.2.2 and can confirm it works. The procedure is simple. It just takes a quick read through of the documentation to get it. I did not investigate whether you can do this with an OS X copy of Toast.

I'm still a bit clueless as to why the earlier copies were unbootable. They both had the correct file systems and had the hidden Trash and Desktop Folders. So I don't know.

This vexes me. I'm terribly vexed.


  1. Toast 5 and 6 will work (on OS 9 and up to 10.4, respectively); I have backups of my 9.1 and 9.2.2-eMac discs done as Toast images. Haven't tried any later versions.

    1. Hi.
      I have scoured the nets looking for an OS 9.1 install disc or download that I could burn through OS 10.7 with no luck. Is there any way I could get a copy of 9.1 from you?

      Thank you and much appreciated!


    2. check out

  2. I'm a bit rusty on OS 9, but sometimes you have to "bless" the System Folder after making the copy - something you can't do on a burned CD. Perhaps with a disk image before you burn it?

  3. I too was vexed when trying to make a bootable install of OS 9 for my beige G3. I tried burning 5 different OS 9 ISOs repeatedly - and ended up wasting 10 CD-ROMs (weren't recognized in G3). After that failure, I attempted to write the OS9 system to the G3 hard drive with OSX - multiple methods - and successfully copied every time (even seen in emulators!), but it never booted on the G3.

    After all that, I said "Screw it!"
    (I may have used harsher language)

  4. Hey, speaking of OS 9....if you have some free time to kill and know any Japanese speakers B-G over at macrumors discovered some Japanese youtube browser/downloaders and mac os 9 flv players. They don't seem to work in classic (I get "you cannot copy this folder here" error messages) and I can't make heads or tails of the support docs, even after putting them through google translate. This seems to be working for our friends across the pacific though, and it was last updated in October of 2011. A working youtube browser for OS9 would be quite the coup. Here are the links:

    There is also this:

  5. There is another way to get around this problem. I recently installed System 7.5.3 from a non-bootable CD without starting from my hard drive by using a system 7.1 Disk utilities diskette to boot. This allowed me to trash the system folder of the hard drive and mount all the relevant disk images from the CD with the Disk Copy 6.3.3 program and then I started the install. Same should be possible with a newer system on a non-bootable install CD copy. OS 9 is unfortunately too bloated to be booted from diskette, but if you are installing to an older Mac and have some older system diskette lying around, that might be an alternative for the non-Toasters out there.

  6. Classic Mac OS CDs need their boot block altered to point the bootloader to the System Folder's filesystem ID. Only Toast 5 and earlier can do this (it's a checkbox under Other > Mac Volume > Select...); later versions specifically state that they cannot create bootable Mac OS discs.