Sheepshavers and Chubby Bunnies – The Weird and Wonderful World of Classic On Intel

Recently, a reader of this blog submitted a comment regarding an earlier post. Following links in the comment, I stumbled upon an article about solutions to the “Appleworks problem”. My interest was piqued. What WAS “the Appleworks problem” and how DO you solve it?

The “Appleworks problem” turned out to be fairly easily stated. If you have an older Appleworks based document that you need to regain access to, how do you do this if you don’t have an older Mac to facilitate that access? The answer? Run a Mac OS 9 emulator on your modern Mac, install Appleworks into the emulator and then use it to recover full access to the document of interest.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it turns out to be anything but simple. Installing and setting up either of the two major Mac OS emulators presently available is a bit of a chore. The curiously named Sheepshaver application is the best supported Mac emulator currently out there. Sheepshaver is followed closely by the equally oddly named Basilisk II. Sheepshaver emulates a PowerPC Macintosh; Basilisk II emulates a 68K Macintosh.

SheepShaver Icon

I looked into installing and setting up Sheepshaver on my Intel iMac and quickly found that the number of steps involved, and the amount of work involved in each step, was daunting to say the least. I won’t comment on the effort required to install and set up Basilisk II – I found the idea of an emulated PowerPC Mac far more attractive than the idea of an emulated 68K Mac.

This is where another curiously named package came to the rescue. There are a LOT of curiously named applications in this post! 🙂 “Chubby Bunny” is a pre-configured version of Sheepshaver, with all of the setup already done. What a great idea!

Installing Chubby Bunny is as simple as dropping its executable into your Applications folder (the application is called, and it sports the “classic” icon – a nice touch) and placing one of the three included disk images into your /Users/Shared folder. That’s pretty much it! Launch and Mac OS 9 pops up in all its glory.

Here is a screen shot of Chubby Bunny running Mac OS 9.0.4 (Mac OS 9.0.4 is the highest version of Mac OS 9 supported by Sheepshaver) on my Mac OS X Mavericks 3.4 GHz 27” iMac (click the image to get the full size screenshot).

SheepShaver OS 9 Running

There are only a small number of preconfigured applications in the Mac OS 9 instance you get this way, and oddly, given how this whole thing started, Appleworks is NOT one of them(!), but you can install more, just as you can with a real Mac OS 9 installation.

That SHOULD be the end of this post – mission accomplished! I now know what the “Appleworks problem” is AND how to solve it, and as an added bonus, I have discovered how to run Mac OS 9 Classic on my modern iMac – Classic on Intel. I was delighted to learn all of this, and wanted to pass it along to you, the readers of this blog.

HOWEVER, I wasn’t entirely pleased with the configuration of Chubby Bunny. Two things didn’t quite meet my needs. The virtual screen size was limited to 1024×768 (I wanted 1280×1024) and the maximum disk image size you could use was limited to just 1.2 GB (a wee bit small for a well-stocked Mac OS 9 system in my opinion – I wanted something much larger). The rest of this post concerns the resolution of these two issues.

Installing a larger disk image into Chubby Bunny turned out to be quite easy. The three supplied disk images are standard Mac OS X .dmg files, and are simply recognized by name. When Chubby Bunny sees a .dmg file in /Users/Shared with one of the names it recognizes, it mounts it as a disk into your Mac OS 9 instance and that is that. Banking on Chubby Bunny not checking anything but the .dmg file name, I created a 12 GB .dmg file using Disk Utility. I gave this new disk image the same name as the Chubby Bunny 1.2 GB disk image, and then replaced the 1.2 GB disk image in /Users/Shared with this new but same-named 12 GB disk image. Bingo! It worked. Chubby Bunny happily mounted the 12 GB disk image into my Mac OS 9 instance and all was well. First problem solved!

Below is screen shot showing a Chubby Bunny Finder window open on the 12 GB disk.

SheepShaver Finder Open on 12 GB My Docs

Now onto the screen resolution. This was a much harder nut to crack. While Chubby Bunny’s Mac OS 9 emulator is running, there is a (Mac OS X) menu bar selection that allows the user to adjust preferences. One of those is screen resolution, and the menu allows you to enter pretty much any two numbers you want. Well, this is going to be easy, I thought! I entered 1280 and 1024 and confidently restarted Chubby Bunny. Regrettably, my confidence was misplaced – the virtual desktop still came up at 1024×768. Checking the preferences, I found that my previous entry had disappeared, and once again the maximum choice was 1024×768. I repeated this exercise several times to be sure, but the result was always the same.

Stymied, I reached out (via email) to Chubby Bunny’s author, one Jon Gardner, and asked him if there was any simple way to make preference changes “stick” across restarts. I was not hopeful of getting a response, but much to my surprise and delight, Jon got right back to me. He suggested directly editing the file .sheepshaver_prefs, which is created in your home directory when you run Sheepshaver. There, he indicated, you could adjust video resolution and lots of other things as well.

Excellent. This made perfect sense. I found .sheepshaver_prefs in my home directory, edited in my new video resolution and restarted Chubby Bunny, once again confident that I had now resolved the problem. Once again I was wrong! Chubby Bunny stubbornly came up at 1024×768 again, and didn’t even reflect my newly edited selection of 1280×1024 in the available preferences. I tried this a few times as well, to be very sure the behavior was always the same, and it always was. Some experimentation revealed that no matter WHAT changes I made to .sheepshaver_prefs, they were always returned to the original settings after I ran Chubby Bunny.

This observation led the way for me. Clearly, there had to be a copy of .sheepshaver_prefs INSIDE the Chubby Bunny Classic application file, and the app had to be overwriting the existing .sheepshaver_prefs with this internal copy each time it ran. SO, to fix my problem, all I had to do was find that internal copy and make my changes there. If this sounds complicated or dangerous, don’t worry, it is not. It is actually quite easy.

The inquisitive among you will have long since noticed Mac OS X’s “Show Package Contents” right click context menu selection. This is visible whenever you right click a .app application file. Select “Show Package Contents”, and Finder opens the .app file and does exactly what the name suggests – it shows you the contents of the .app file in a simple directory/file paradigm. The below screen shots show this selection for Chubby Bunny’s, and the view that results: Show Package Contents Contents

Hmmm… no .sheepshaver_prefs here. Following my instincts, I repeated this step on the file that you see in the above view. Here is what I saw this time: Show Package Contents Contents

Hmmm… once again, no .sheepshaver_prefs. HOWEVER, there was a curious looking file there, simply titled “hih1”. What exactly was THAT file? I dropped it into my favorite Mac OS X text editor (I use the excellent Smultron) and voila! I was rewarded with nothing less than a full copy of .sheepshaver_prefs! I had found what I was looking for.

File hih1 Contents

I edited the 1024 and 768 numbers, making them 1280 and 1024 respectively and saved the file back. I closed up and then and crossing all my fingers and toes, re-launched Success! The virtual desktop came up at 1280×1024 and now even included 1154×862 as a possible selection between 1280×1024 and 1024×768. Second (and last) problem solved.

OK, this then IS now the end of the post. If you want to play with Mac OS 9 on your Intel Mac pick up a copy of Chubby Bunny at

and try it out. If you are happy with the defaults, you are “good to go”. If you want a larger disk, or a larger screen, the notes above should provide the guidance necessary to achieve those results.

Now just before you trundle out and do that, a note about legality. Chubby Bunny incorporates a fully configured copy of Sheepshaver (the you saw in the steps above includes, with the whole thing renamed to reflect “Classic On Intel”). Sheepshaver requires, and Chubby Bunny thus includes, two pieces of protected Apple Intellectual Property: Mac OS 9.0.4 itself and a Macintosh ROM. You MUST have legal access to both of these yourself if you are to be on the right side of the law when using Chubby Bunny. Practically speaking, this requirement is satisfied in full if you have an old pre Mac OS X Macintosh lying around loaded with Mac OS 9.

Here at the Happy Macs lab, this is not an issue. We literally have almost a dozen or more old Macs in legal residence, two of which are running Mac OS 9. For you however, gentle reader, I cannot say whether this is an issue or not. I will leave that to your good judgement. However, you have been duly notified of your legal obligation!

p.s.> OK, so where DID the name “Sheepshaver” come from??? What an odd name for a Macintosh emulation application! Well, there is a weird sort of geeky logic to the selection of the name. I have read that it is a play on the name “Shape Shifter”, a well-known Mac OS X application that allows users to completely reskin their Mac GUI if they wish to. Sheepshaver sort of does the same thing, but with a twist. It not only reskins the GUI, it takes it back 15 years or so, give or take a year or two here or there. So… Shape Shifter, Sheep Shaver… they both sort of do the same thing, at least from a very abstract perspective. There you go! That is where the name is reputed to have come from, and now you know! Don’t you feel better now? 🙂

p.p.s> An astute reader of this blog pointed out to me that while the above “urban myth” is correct (SheepShaver *is* named after ShapeShifter), it is not the Mac OS X ShapeShifter skin changing application that is being referenced, but rather an older 68K Mac emulator for Amiga, also called ShapeShifter. If you are curious, you can look into it at:

Thanks to reader “ClassicHasClass” for this valuable update!

p.p.p.s> Basilisk II? I haven’t got a CLUE where THAT name came from! 🙂

15 thoughts on “Sheepshavers and Chubby Bunnies – The Weird and Wonderful World of Classic On Intel

  1. I had Sheepshaver running on BeOS when it first came out. And I ran Basilisk II on my old Sharp Zaurus long ago. All good fun. So I’ll be trying this for a nostalgia kick. Thanks!

  2. Chubby Bunny is great! I’ve been searching the web for a long time looking for a tool which would let me finally play Crystal Crazy on my intel mac. This is it!


    Used Chubby Bunny on a Macbook Pro 2010, intel i5, 15 inch supported with El Capitan (10.11). Everything runs smoothly, in fact smoother than on my Macbook 2007. There are two ways to solve the fullscreen problem.

    1) If you are using Lion,
    -download Maximizer by chpwn
    -(must install SIMBL) .
    This method is easy and creates fullscreen arrows in the right corner of the gray head bar.

    2) If you are using any Mac OS,
    -Open COIV4.0.1 folder (or whatever folder contains Chubby Bunny)
    -Use ctrl & click on folder labeled Classic, click show package contents
    -Use ctrl & click on folder labeled COI, click show package contents
    -Open text file hih1 (may need Text Wrangler)
    -Change line that says:
    screen win/1024/768
    change this to the width and height you prefer
    I changed mine to:
    screen win/1480/1000
    -Quit text edit.

    This should solve your problem, and change the dimensions indefinitely.

  4. Hi :

    Has ANYone been able to successfully download : ?

    I keep trying but it always hangs.

    For example … I tried today a few minutes ago but it just hangs after downloading 83 KB of the zip file.

    I’m running Safari 9.1 on a 2.5 Ghz Intel Core i5 Mini Mac with 8 GB of 1600 MHZ DDR3 RAM running Mac OSX 10.9.5 .

    I need to get Chubby Bunny up and running ASAP as I need to run a couple of OS 9 (i.e. “Classic”) applications for certain personal development projects.

    The reason why I am doing this is that the Graphics card in my Tower G5 failed.

    I think that the fact that I have a defunct G5 Tower (& the associated OS software) protects me from any legal liability from Apple.

    Any help anybody could send me would be Very Much Appreciated.

    All the best … Simon Whelan

  5. Just a brief thought. I have both Sheepshaver and Chubby Bunny on my iMac. You have to be very careful running both, as it’s too easy for ChubbyB to overwrite the normal SheepS preferences file and undo all your hard work setting up SheepS in the first place. Solution: if you want both*, first copy and rename the SheepS preferences file before installing ChubbyB. You can then replace it afterwards to get back to SheepS.

    * I find Mac OS 8.6 in SheepS a far more stable and satisfying experience than ChubbyB’s OS 9.0.4 – all my applications except one will run in 8.6, and that one (Word 5.1a) is the reason I keep ChubbyB at all (that and the early copies of ClarisWorks and Word Perfect that come bundled with it). I have no idea why Word won’t run in 8.6 – it runs aOK in 7.5.3 (in Basilisk II) and in 9.0.4, and ran fine in both 9.2.2 and Classic back in the day.

  6. So I made myself a good sized disk image, got it to mount okay, slapped copy of the existing System folder on there, but I am not sure how to make it boot from that system folder. Any ideas?

    I have also somehow managed to lose my sound! Not sure why, but it happened after a freeze, when I had dragged the System folder to the desktop and restarted, thinking it would boot from the new one.


    • There are other ways to resolve the “AppleWorks problem”. (I have both…)

      1. Download the free open-source LibreOffice application – this is like Open Office on steroids as far as opening ‘dead’ file formats is concerned. Among the gazillions of file formats it recognises and opens are AppleWorks 6 and ClarisWorks 5, preserving all formatting and fonts … provided you still have them in OS X. IF you then make changes, you can’t save as AW6 or CW5 but you can save as Word or rich text or pdf (or even Pages etc?). What’s more, it not only opens the word processing files, but also spreadsheets, drawings, paintings (I think), and they were working on the database module too which may be in the latest version.

      2. If you have a reason to get a virtualiser like Parallels (and you may think AppleWorks is not reason enough on its own…), you can install Snow Leopard Server – still available from Apple via phone only, for less than £20 – into it, and can then install and run AppleWorks there. With drag and drop between your host OS (in my case Mavericks) and the guest OS, it’s easy to open and work on and save in AppleWorks.

  7. Pingback: SheepShaver Emulator- MacOS 9 on MacBook Pro | The VintageGeek Blog

  8. I found your update the only one that worked! I did, however, update to the newer 64 bit version of sheepshave.r I just put it in replacing the sheepshaver inside the original chubby bunny. YOu even had MORE! What is exactly what I am looking for. Even cooler is 1280×1024 on my retina 5k monitor. Its quite readable! Cut and paste works in Mojave too!

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