The return of Macintosh Basics


Mac Enthusiast
Does anyone remember the old application that came with System 7 called Macintosh Basics?

For those who don't know, it was an application that had many lessons you could go through at your own pace. There was an animated man that taught you the basics of using a computer, from clicking and dragging to more advanced techniques like opening and using some basic applications.

I seriously think Apple need to bring a program like this back for Leopard. There are so many people out there who are clueless with using computers, and I thought this program was invaluable. I guided my parents through it when I was about 8 years old, and they went from knowing nothing at all to having a basic feel for using a computer.

Anyway, just an idea. Personally I think it's one of the best things they could add to Leopard.


Registered Penguin
I agree. That's an awesome program (black and white, IIRC).

I still have it on floppy: I wonder if it runs in Classic?


Crotchety UI Nitpicker
I remember it (and also Mouse Basics) well, and I've been very annoyed with Apple for not including it ever since I bought my first Mac without it.

People take these things for granted, or assume people will "just pick it up", but let's face it: computers are bloody complicated. No, a little red gumdrop in the upper-left does not magically communicate that it will close the window when clicked (more like the opposite, actually). Finder icons do not magically communicate that they will open only when double-clicked. And menus do not magically communicate what their listed shortcuts actually mean (or even that they're shortcuts at all).

My mother is a perfect example. She hardly ever uses computers. She just uses word processing and email every month or so. And every time, I see her struggling to control the mouse when she needs to use a menu, and utterly clueless as to how to determine keyboard shortcuts. And she never knows when she's supposed to single-click and when she's supposed to double-click.

These things do NOT come naturally. I'll bet you had these same problems when you first used a computer, too. I know I did. But Macintosh Basics and Mouse Basics made things a lot easier for me.


Mac User
I remember my first Mac (Macintosh SE 256Kb Ram 20 Mb HD) came with a funny app that tought you how to "Point, Click & Drag" I don't remember exactly but you were supposed to point some numbered dots on the screen, when you pointed the first, it dissapeared and revealed a little white dove underneath. Once you discovered every dove they all flew away over a park or something like that. Then in the clicking part you were supposed to click on some windows to raise the blinds. I remember that behind one of those blinds there was a man using a mac just like mine. I was 6 or 7 years old and I thought that was myself!
I learnt how to use a GUI the Cupertino way. We want that back! I don't think that a child 7 years old today would learn how to use the OSX GUI as fast as I did back then. I mean I had to learn again when I switched from OS9 to OSX.... and I'm still not confortable with it....


iWork for Apple <3
Wow, I remember this from my system 7.5 days on my performa. That was THE most useful program when i was was learning to use a computer at 6.


Got it with the Mac Centris 660AV... System 7.1... by then, it was in color.

It'll probably run in classic. It's a very simple Macromedia Director-based application.

I agree. And the new Macintosh basics should ask you if you're A) New to computers or B) a "Switcher." That would be spiffy.

I believe the earlier program that simply introduced using the mouse was called "Mouse skills"... but I could be wrong.


Mac Enthusiast
I had it in color on my LC 575. Loved it.

Well, after reading all of the replies so far, all I can see is positives. I honestly do think reviving it is a great idea, considering computers are becoming more complex. I just wish there was a way to get this back to Apple :eek:


Scratch & Sniff Committee
I think I used the original one from about 1987ish. Yes, it was black-and-white, but it was quite graphical and fun and perfectly suited to the mindset of that era ... "Oh, a computer. Yeah, I've heard of these."

I seem to remember it started by showing you a picture of someone moving the mouse to click on stars, and then you would click the stars. Then, it would let you loose on a street scene where clicking would open doors, peek into windows, knock over trash cans and so on. It went as far as showing how to make documents, move them around, and so on. It really did a lot to make users comfortable with their computers.

Of course, we're in a different era now. Firstly, computers are no longer so rare, and most of us have at least some experience with them. Also, the things people want to do with their computers has changed, too, from managing banking and investments to handling digital photos and video. If there were a new "Macintosh Basics" it would be very big project.



Ahh, the memories... I think it would be an excellent idea to bring it back. Like it was stated before, computers are not really that easy to use. Even a Mac is not something you sit Granny in front of and expect she'll surf the internet for news half an hour later.

Something like OS X basics would be (yet again) something big we would have ahead of Winblows


Staff member
Well, let's think of what it would have to cover... I think it should _not_ cover basic mouse movement. We should safely assume that the computer mouse is now "normal". I mean: We don't explain computer _keyboards_, don't we. Maybe the first time Mac OS X starts, it should simply walk through the functions. Not a movie, rather something like an Automator script that automatically runs on first start. There should be a person with speech-bubbles, but it shouldn't cover too much of the screen. First, that person would explain the Finder. Oh, there we have to stop. This just isn't as easy anymore as with Finder 7... Explain "file browser" and "icon view" to a granny? Erh... What about burnable folders. Just ignore it? Hm. Now what does that "Network" icon do? (I guess not even Apple really knows what it's for...) "I double clicked it, but the Internet didn't open..." :p

But really: It should walk users through Safari,, iTunes, iPhoto - that's about it, I guess. And maybe, just maybe, they should work on the Finder, so it becomes an easy-to-grasp view of the computer again. It does too much and still isn't complete...


Crotchety UI Nitpicker
fryke said:
I think it should _not_ cover basic mouse movement. We should safely assume that the computer mouse is now "normal".
I disagree completely. True, many people buying a Mac will be buying it as a second computer, but...that's not everybody. I think they should adopt the same system they had for my first Performa. It came with three programs: Performa Basics, Mouse Basics, and Mouse Practice (all in color, btw). That separated mouse usage from OS usage. So those who are already familiar with mice can just not load Mouse Basics and not be bored.
I mean: We don't explain computer _keyboards_,
People take entire classes on typing. :eek: My Performa 475 came with Mario Teaches Typing, too.

I think they should have several different tutorial apps, perhaps in a folder on the desktop by default. I think the first shouldn't try to teach specific programs (Safari, Mail, etc) at all. Instead, it should focus strictly on the OS itself (and maybe glance over basic Finder operation, e.g., double-click to open). Things like:
• Closing/minimizing/maximizing windows
• Moving and resizing windows
• Using menus and what the shortcuts mean
• What scroll bars are and how they work. Everyone I've ever known has thought scroll bars were completely backwards at first. "Why does the page move UP when I press DOWN?!?"
• How the Dock works. A new user wouldn't even know you can drag items into the Dock unless they were told or they stumbled into it.
• The Application menu, because users really needs to know how to access preferences and quit applications.
• The difference and relationship between modifier keys (command/option/control/shift) and regular keys. This is really important.

Then I think they should have a virtual clone of the old Mouse Basics, with a slight addition to explain control-clicking. Most switchers seem to think Macs just don't have contextual menus because they don't have a second mouse button. That's really not good.

And in addition to those, they should have a few quick tutorials to cover common tasks like using email and browsing the web. Although really, those shouldn't be tutorial programs so much as a better help system, like we had in System 7.5. The OS X help system is a huge step backwards.

And hopefully while they're in the process of explaining everything, they'll notice all the retarded little things that need fixing. ;)


Staff member
Type teaching would rather compare to drawing well with a mouse... I meant we don't explain how to press the "a" key or how to use the "enter" button...

And: I don't think a system where you start your Mac and then have 7-10 "tutorial apps" would seem like this is the most simple computer you can buy.


Yep, i remember him too! He was replaced by a female some years later. She walked over the desktop, in color! That was on a Apple Performa 6400/200.. I think with System 8.0.


Mac Enthusiast
Mikuro is right, remember it's Macintosh _BASICS_, so we don't need to know about networking and encoding movies in H.264 etc.

The basics would do, like Dock, Finder windows (sidebar, views, etc), changing window properties, using menus, system prefs, etc.