Here's What Your Favorite Mac Apps Would Have Looked Like in 1999

Spotify and Slack weren't even a thing 22 years ago, but driven by curiosity and an interest in the evolution of user interfaces, graphic designer Michael Feeney has painstakingly reimagined them and other macOS 12 applications to see what they would have looked like in the Mac OS 9 era.

mac os 9 spotify
In order to realize "(mac)OStalgia," Feeney first went back and analyzed the Mac OS 9 environment using the SheepShaver emulator, and then created a library of UI components that he could reuse throughout the project.

He then took a number of apps crucial to his daily workflow, including Spotify, Slack, Zoom, Figma, TextEdit, and Google Chrome, and gave their UIs the Mac OS 9 treatment. The results of Feeney's project are impressive, as you can see in the embedded video below.


As for what stood out the most in terms of the differences between the user interface and user experience, Feeney says:

Even though Design and UI trends definitely changed a lot in the past 20 years, applications still behave and look (somehow, aesthetic aside) very similar. After all, it is indeed difficult to replace well installed behaviour such as visual feedback on hover, scroll for more content, double click to launch application, etc. Basically, because our Operating Systems still behave in a similar way, so did the UI and the UX of many of our apps.

One area where both UI and UX improved dramatically as part of the operating systems is on the accessibility front. The apparition (and improvement) of a full-fledged Voice Control, integrated screen readers, dark mode, etc. is definitely what stood out the most looking back at Mac OS 9.

Mac OS 9 was introduced on October 23, 1999, and featured internet support out of the box with Internet Explorer, an email client, text-to-speech, and Sherlock 2.0 – the built-in tool that let users search their computer and the internet, and the direct ancestor of Spotlight in macOS. Apple discontinued development of Mac OS 9 in 2001 and it was succeeded by Mac OS X.

Feeney's Mac OS 9: UI Kit is available to download for free, for use by the Figma community and in personal projects as well.

Top Rated Comments

Kissmo1980 Avatar
9 months ago
Notice how the interface is not rainbow vomit and how it focuses on content.
It’s something that died with the introduction of flat over the top saturated UI elements.

I wish Mac OS would allow users to theme or at least to provide the Aqua interface alternative.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
robertcoogan Avatar
9 months ago
Right here is a good argument as to why Apple should let people mod their desktops.

I miss (the old) ResExcellence.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
smirking Avatar
9 months ago
This was so awesome. I miss that OS and the days when your computer plugged you into a parallel universe that required imagination to fully experience instead of some bastardized version of the real world condensed down to the size of your screen.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Freeangel1 Avatar
9 months ago
I still have a fully functional dual G4 1GHZ Quicksilver loaded with os9 software including Final Cut Pro, Pro Tools and Sound Designer 2.83 with an Audiomedia III card from DigiDesign.

I HAVE THEE LARGEST OS9 software collection on the planet.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sw1tcher Avatar
9 months ago

Oh I remember those days. But as i recall most were using dialup modems in those days so video conferencing was only available in schools and corporations.
1000 free hours on AOL FTW!

And when you tried to cancel, they'd give you another free 1000 hours. ?

It was nice getting free internet back then. Just rinse and repeat with AOL, MSN, CompuServe, Prodigy, Juno, MindSpring, Earthlink, NetZero
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
now i see it Avatar
9 months ago
Mac OS 9 and all the ones before it crashed way too often. Daily crashes was the norm in my experience. Also OS 8 was the real star. OS 9 was just a slight (and bloated) refinement of OS 8.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

universal control sidecar

PSA: Universal Control and Sidecar Can Be Used At the Same Time in macOS 12.3

Tuesday March 15, 2022 5:12 am PDT by
Before macOS 12.3 and iPadOS 15.4 were released to the public, many beta testers who tried Universal Control were unable to get it working if they were already using an iPad in Sidecar mode, but it turns out that in the final release you can actually enable both Universal Control and Sidecar simultaneously on different devices, provided your setup allows for this. In the final version of...
facebook meta

Meta Halts Development of In-House AR and VR Operating System as Launch of Apple Headset Approaches

Wednesday January 5, 2022 10:04 am PST by
Meta has stopped developing its scratch-built operating system for augmented-reality (AR) and virtual-reality (VR) devices, according to The Information. In a paywalled report published earlier today, The Information claims that Meta stopped the development of its operating system designed for Oculus virtual-reality devices and the company's upcoming augmented-reality glasses in November...
13 inch macbook pro m2 mock feature 2

New M2-Powered MacBooks Could Be Conspicuously Absent At Today's Apple Event

Tuesday March 8, 2022 6:58 am PST by
Last-minute rumors leading up to Apple's "Peek Performance" event have cast doubt on long-running expectations that Apple will reveal a new or updated MacBook model with an M2 chip on Tuesday. Last month, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported that Apple was preparing to launch at least one new Mac at its March 8 event, and at the time Gurman speculated that it would likely be a high-end Mac mini...
cnet michael dell steve jobs

Steve Jobs Asked Dell to Pre-Install Mac OS on PCs and Pay Hundreds of Millions in Royalties

Thursday October 7, 2021 3:16 pm PDT by
The 10 year anniversary of Steve Jobs death took place earlier this week, sparking tech leaders to share their stories of Apple's former CEO. Dell CEO Michael Dell spoke to CNET, reminiscing about the time that Steve Jobs aimed to get Dell to license Mac OS to run on Intel-based PCs and how that might have changed the PC industry. As the story goes, Jobs first approached Dell about a...
iPhone 12 Made in India

India Planning Homegrown Operating System to Rival iOS and Android

Tuesday January 25, 2022 5:50 am PST by
The Indian government is planning to incentivize the creation of an "indigenous" mobile operating system to rival iOS and Android, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has announced (via The Economic Times). The proposal, announced on Monday by Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar, will encourage the technology industry to create a homegrown Indian...
chrome os flex mac

Google Wants to Turn Your Old Mac into a Chromebook With Chrome OS Flex

Wednesday February 16, 2022 3:31 am PST by
Google has announced early access to Chrome OS Flex, a method of replacing the operating system on older PCs and Macs "within minutes" to essentially turn them into Chromebooks. The company is encouraging individuals, schools, and businesses to download Chrome OS Flex so they can "easily try modern computing with cloud-based management" while extending the lifespan of older devices, thereby ...
macos monterey

macOS Monterey 12.3 Update Bricking Macs That Have Had Logic Board Replacements

Thursday March 17, 2022 5:12 am PDT by
The latest macOS Monterey update, released to the public this week, is bricking Macs that have had their logic boards replaced, causing panic among customers who are unable to get their Mac back to a working state, according to a cluster of user reports posted on social media and Apple's support forums. Apple this week released macOS Monterey 12.3, which among other things, brought Universal ...
mac studio lifestyle shot

Apple Executives Discuss How Mac Studio Fills the Gap Between iMac and Mac Pro

Thursday March 17, 2022 9:54 am PDT by
Apple's new Mac Studio desktop computer will begin arriving to customers this Friday. Ahead of the launch, TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino spoke with a trio of senior Apple employees about the company's process of designing the Mac Studio. Just like the Mac Pro tower released in late 2019, the Mac Studio was born as a result of Apple's Pro Workflows Team that was created shortly after the...

Popular Stories

airpods pro black background

AirPods Pro 2: Five New Features and Improvements to Expect

Sunday August 14, 2022 3:28 pm PDT by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro are finally nearing launch, with a release expected later this year. If you are considering upgrading to the new AirPods Pro once they are released, keep reading for a list of five new features to expect. In addition to all-new features, the second-generation AirPods Pro will likely adopt some features added to the standard AirPods last year. H2 Chip ...
iPhone 14 Dummies 1 Feature

Everything Rumored for Apple's September Event: iPhone 14, Apple Watch Pro and More

Friday August 12, 2022 2:34 pm PDT by
There's just about a month to go until Apple holds its annual September event focusing on new iPhone and Apple Watch models. We thought we'd take a quick look at everything that's rumored for Apple's September event to give MacRumors readers a rundown on what to expect when the first fall event rolls around. iPhone 14 The iPhone 14 can probably be described more as an "iPhone 13S" because...
10th Generation iPad Render

10th-Generation iPad With Major Design Changes Reportedly in Production Ahead of September Launch

Monday August 15, 2022 8:02 pm PDT by
Apple's rumored 10th-generation iPad is currently in production and will feature "major" design changes, according to a report from Taiwanese website DigiTimes. A mockup of the potential 10th-generation iPad design by Renders By Shailesh The report did not provide any specific details about the 10th-generation iPad's new design, but rumors suggest the device will feature a larger 10.5-inch...
ios 16 lock screen feature2

Apple Seeds Sixth Betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Monday August 15, 2022 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth betas of upcoming iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the updates coming a week after Apple released the fifth developer betas. Registered developers can download the iOS and iPadOS 16 profiles from the Apple Developer Center, and once installed, the betas will be available over the air. iOS 16 introduces a revamped Lock...
apple watch se

Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series 8: New Features to Expect If You've Waited to Upgrade

Monday August 15, 2022 2:44 am PDT by
The Apple Watch SE was announced in September 2020 and has been a popular Apple Watch model for customers looking for their first smartwatch or an affordable Apple Watch. Apple Watch SE customers may be wondering, however, what's in store for them with the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8 and what new features they can expect. Continue reading to find out. Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series ...
odyssey ark 1

Samsung Launches $3,500 'Odyssey Ark' 55-Inch Curved Gaming Display

Monday August 15, 2022 7:15 am PDT by
Samsung today announced the launch of the Odyssey Ark, which the company says is the world's first 55-inch 4K curved display with a 165Hz refresh rate for improved gaming performance. Samsung first previewed the monitor at CES, but it is now available to order. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Priced at $3,500, the Samsung Odyssey Ark features mini-LED technology...
top stories 13aug2022

Top Stories: New Battery Percentage Icon in iOS 16, USB-C AirPods Rumor, and More

Saturday August 13, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
This week brought some shocking news for iOS 16 beta testers, with Apple bringing back the iPhone battery percentage to the status bar after a number of years. Other news and rumors this week included word that Apple has started recording portions of its media event planned for next month to introduce the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8, claims about iPhone 14 Pro pricing and Apple's...