SoftMac 2008 Setup Guide

(updated January 7, 2009)


Setting up SoftMac is fun and easy! But there are a few things that you will need to pull together before you begin:

  • You need to download SoftMac. This tutorial uses a beta of SoftMac 2008 (scroll down to download). The latest stable version can be set up in a similar way.
  • This guide requires you to use Stuffit for Windows. Stick with version nine of Stuffit - the most recent versions are quite horrible.
  • You need to download Apple's System 7.5 Network Access Disk to use as a boot disk before you install the operating system (this file will be expanded using Stuffit for Windows). Note: In Firefox, you must right click and “save as” to download this file and anything else with the .Hqx extension.
  • You will need HFVExplorer, an application that allows you to read Macintosh disk images in Windows.
  • You will also need to download Apple HD SC Setup, a program that can initialize some disk images you will create to use with SoftMac.
  • You will need to download System 7.5.3. This version of Apple's Mac OS has been released free to the public. Download all 19 parts.
  • Finally, you will need a Macintosh Rom image. You can get one from a real Macintosh as described here, or you can skulk around the Internet and download one illegally. Any ROM that works with Basilisk II should work with SoftMac. ROMs from PPC machines (emulated via SheepShaver) will not work.

Getting Started

Download the files listed above. Run SoftMac. Place your ROM file in the SoftMac directory.

Install Stuffit for Windows. Use Stuffit to expand the Network Access Disk. With a default installation of Stuffit, you can accomplish this by just double clicking on the Network Access archive. Once expanded, you should find a file called “Network Access.image.” Place this in your SoftMac directory.

Now, run HFVExplorer. You should see a screen something like figure one, below.

Figure one: HFVExplorer

We're going to create a disk image that will help us install System 7. In HFVExplorer, select “File” and “Format New Volume.” Give the volume a name (I use “Install Files” in this tutorial) and a size (for this tutorial, just 50 MB is fine). Finally, save the image as “installfiles.hfx” and place it in the SoftMac directory. This is detailed in figure two.

Figure 2: Creating a disk image in HFVExplorer

Now, we're going to copy both the System 7 files and the Apple HD SC Setup file to the disk image we've just created. Accomplish this by browsing to the location of the files (click on your drive icon in the left hand pane of HFVExplorer to begin) and dragging them over to the disk image, which is now listed in the left hand pane of HFVExplorer. When you are asked to “Select Copy Mode” just select “Automatic, Let the Program Decide” (the default). See figure three for more help.

Figure 3: Transferring files to your new disk image using HFVExplorer

Exit HFVExplorer. Run SoftMac.

Figure 4: The SoftMac GUI

The SoftMac GUI

We must create one more disk image, this time from within the SoftMac GUI. Select “Tools” and “Create unformatted SCSI disk image.” Give it a size (I recommend 250 MB) and click “OK” to create. Give your new image a name and save it to the SoftMac directory. Note: You should give this file the extension .dsk when you name it.

Now we will setup the emulator. Select “Options” and “ROM BIOS setup.” Click on “Path” to browse to your SoftMac directory (or whatever directory happens to contain your ROM image). Once it has been selected, click on “scan” to locate your ROM. Select it from the drop-down menu. Click “close” when you are finished. See figure five for help.

Figure 5: The ROM BIOS Setup

Back at the main GUI screen, we'll make a few adjustments to the emulator's setup. Under monitor, select a resolution of at least 800×600. Give yourself at least 32MB of memory and select “auto” CPU. “Boot disk” must be “default” for now. You must deselect sound. Sound is not supported in SoftMac… the emulator will crash if applications or the Mac OS try to play sound.

Figure 6: The SoftMac GUI has been configured as above

The other settings can be tweaked later, if necessary. Now, you should click on “disk properties” to load the Network Access boot disk and the two disk images you've created.

This is done by highlighting “Mac internal floppy…” and then clicking on “3…” and selecting the “Network Access.image” disk you expanded earlier. Next, highlight “Mac External floppy” and in the same way, select the image you created in HFVExplorer and copied the System Files and HD SC setup over to. Finally, highlight “Mac CD-ROM or SCSI disk 0” and select the .dsk file you created in the SoftMac GUI. See figure seven, below.

Several disks mounted in the SoftMac GUI


Hit “save” to save and go back to the main GUI screen. Hit “continue” to boot your emulator from the boot disk. Cross your fingers.

If everything works, you should see a screen that looks something like this:

Figure 8: SoftMac has booted the Network Access Disk

Double click on the second disk to open it. Double click on “Apple HD SC setup 7.3.5.sea” to begin installation. Click on “save” to complete the installation of Apple HD SC. This will create an application icon called “Apple HD SC setup 7.3.5.” Double click to run the program. Once the program launches, hit “Initialize.” Hit “init” to confirm. This will initialize the SCSI image you created in the SoftMac GUI. See figure nine, below. Exit the program.

Figure 9: Running Apple HD SC Setup

Installing System 7

The disk you just initialized should appear on the desktop. Now you must drag all nineteen parts of the System 7 installation over to that disk. This is very important - SoftMac will hang if you try to install from files located on an HFX of HFV image created in HFVExplorer. The installation files MUST be located on an SCSI image created in the SoftMac GUI (or on an actual CD).

Open the disk that now contains the installation files. The first file, “System 7.5.3 01of19.smi” should have a fancy icon, unlike the other parts. Double click on it. Agree to the EULA terms that appear. Once the files have been verified, a disk entitled “Sys7.5 v7.5.3 CD Inst” should appear on your desktop. Double click on it, and then on “Installer” to begin installation.

Doing an “Easy Install” is, um, easiest. More experienced users might opt for a “custom install.”

The destination disk should be the SCSI image you created in the SoftMac GUI (that now contains all of the install files). SoftMac limits users to only two HFV/HFX images, and you ought to save those for future use. See figure ten for a look at the installation setup.

Figure 10: About to Install System 7 in SoftMac

Click “Install” to install the Operating System. Click “Quit” to exit when you are finished.

Select “Special” and “Shut Down” to shut down your emulated Mac.

Back at the SoftMac GUI click “properties” to make some final, important configurations. Click on “disk properties” and disable the “Mac Internal Floppy” and the “Mac External Floppy,” leaving only the SCSI image enabled. Back at the main properties screen, select “SCSI 0” as your boot disk. Save your settings. Hit restart to restart your emulated Mac and boot from the .dsk image containing your fresh install of System 7.5.3.

Your new Mac OS will look really ugly, I'm afraid. You need to manually set the emulated Mac to display color. Open your System folder and then the “Control Panels” directory. Browse to the “Monitors” control panel and double click. Select 256 colors (this is the maximum amount of colors that SoftMac can display).

And now you are pretty much finished. A clean install of System 7 should look something like this:

Figure 11: SoftMac, emulating System 7.5.3


You can remove the nineteen system installation files if you like. But it might be worthwhile to hold on to them. The “Easy Install” doesn't include all possible components of the Mac OS. If you want to install something specific, you can just repeat the system installation process above and select “custom install.” Components can then be individually selected. The helpful Control Strip and the WindowShade control panel, for example, are not installed by default.

You might want to go back to the GUI to mount the .HFX image that originally contained your installation files. The .dsk image you used cannot be read by HFVExplorer, and so transferring files from your Windows system onto it can be a bitch. It is easiest to just transfer them to the .HFX image using HFVExplorer and then drag them over to the .DSK once the emulator has booted.

You can update to System 7.5.5. Download the free update from Apple. The easiest way to install is following the procedure above… copy it to your .HFX image using HFVExplorer, and then drag it over to the .dsk file. As noted above, the emulator will hang if you attempt to launch it from the .HFX image.


And that's all! A similar emulator is Basilisk II. Be sure to give it a try also. There is further SoftMac documentation on the official site. If you need some help, you can ask on our forum.

Props to Darek Mihocka.

softmac_setup.txt · Last modified: 2023/01/06 23:48 by clockwise