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.

Popular Stories

iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

iPhone 16 Series Is Just Two Months Away: Everything We Know

Monday July 15, 2024 4:44 am PDT by
Apple typically releases its new iPhone series around mid-September, which means we are about two months out from the launch of the iPhone 16. Like the iPhone 15 series, this year's lineup is expected to stick with four models – iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max – although there are plenty of design differences and new features to take into account. To bring ...
Apple Watch Series 9

2024 Apple Watch Lineup: Key Changes We're Expecting

Tuesday July 16, 2024 7:59 am PDT by
Apple is seemingly planning a rework of the Apple Watch lineup for 2024, according to a range of reports from over the past year. Here's everything we know so far. Apple is expected to continue to offer three different Apple Watch models in five casing sizes, but the various display sizes will allegedly grow by up to 12% and the casings will get taller. Based on all of the latest rumors,...
iPhone 16 Pro Left Side Feature

iPhone 16 Pro Again Rumored to Come in New 'Rose' Color

Tuesday July 16, 2024 3:53 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max will be available in a new "Rose" color, claims a rumor out of China, corroborating previous claims. Chinese Weibo-based leaker OvO Baby Sauce OvO, a relatively new source of supply chain leaks, said on Tuesday that the new color code for the iPhone 16 Pro models is simply "Rose," not the previous "Rose Gold" color that Apple first offered ...
New MacBook Pros Launching Tomorrow With These 4 New Features 2

M5 MacBook Models to Use New Compact Camera Module in 2025

Wednesday July 17, 2024 2:58 am PDT by
Apple in 2025 will take on a new compact camera module (CCM) supplier for future MacBook models powered by its next-generation M5 chip, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Writing in his latest investor note on unny-opticals-2025-business-momentum-to-benefit-509819818c2a">Medium, Kuo said Apple will turn to Sunny Optical for the CCM in its M5 MacBooks. The Chinese optical lens company...
tinypod apple watch

TinyPod Turns Your Apple Watch Into an iPod

Wednesday July 17, 2024 3:18 pm PDT by
If you have an old Apple Watch and you're not sure what to do with it, a new product called TinyPod might be the answer. Priced at $79, the TinyPod is a silicone case with a built-in scroll wheel that houses the Apple Watch chassis. When an Apple Watch is placed inside the TinyPod, the click wheel on the case is able to be used to scroll through the Apple Watch interface. The feature works...
macbook pro january

Best Buy's Black Friday in July Sale Takes Up to $700 Off M3 MacBook Pro for Members

Monday July 15, 2024 11:05 am PDT by
Best Buy's "Black Friday in July" sale is in full swing today, and in addition to a few iPad Air discounts we shared earlier, there are also some steep markdowns on the M3 MacBook Pro. You will need a My Best Buy Plus or Total membership in order to get some of these deals. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small...

Top Rated Comments

Kissmo1980 Avatar
34 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
34 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
34 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
34 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
34 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
34 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)