Setting up your vintage (classic) 68k Macintosh – Using SoftMac

You might know what SoftMac is, but are more likely familiar with Basilisk II, SoftMac was a commercial Macintosh Emulator created by Emulators Inc in the 1990s that is now freely available on their site.

SoftMac has a few benefits over Basilisk II for helping you set up your Classic Mac:

  1. SoftMac supports both System 6.x and System 7.x.  Basilisk II only supports System 7.x
  2. SoftMac supports true hard drive emulation using image files, meaning that you can use SoftMac to initialize image files (3GB or less) created from physical media, and then write those image files back on to the media for use in a real 68k-based Macintosh computer.   I’ve written a separate blog entry for how to create and use image files.  Basilisk II treats image files as partitions.   I have found some other emulators that also let you initialize and partition image files.

The main weakness of SoftMac is that it’s only available for Windows Systems (perhaps Mac/Linux with WINE?)

Like Basilisk II, running SoftMac on a modern Windows system (perhaps under Linux/Mac with Wine/PlayOnLinux/PlayOnMac?) will allow you to make changes to the minimal disk images I have on this site or ones you’ve created before you copy the image on to the matching floppy disk (or floppyEMU), Iomega Zip Disk, CD-ROM, or SCSI2SD SD card etc.

Because SoftMac is already well documented on sites like Emaculation, I’m only going to describe the basics of how to setup SoftMac so you can use it to add or remove files from the disk images available to download on my site, to help you setup your 68k Macintosh.

1. Download and install SoftMac

The latest versions for Windows and Dos (not native MacOS and Linux support) can be found on’s website.

  1. Create a destination folder on your system that you will install SoftMac in.
  2. Download version 8.2
  3. Unzip version 8.2 in to the installation folder you created (Figure 1)

SoftMac 8.2 is now installed, but not quite ready to run.

Figure 1: SoftMac 8.2 installed

2. Download and select a ROM file

To run SoftMac you’ll need a file containing a copy of the ROM from the 68k Macintosh System you want to emulate.   Luckily these ROM files are now available on the internet archive and can be used for personal/research purposes.

SoftMac comes pre-configured with profiles for:

  • Macintosh Classic series (this includes the Plus)
  • Macintosh II series
  • Macintosh Quadra series

I’ve personally tested SoftMac with the following ROM files from the internet archive:

If you are downloading the bios files from the internet archive, I found I had to edit the file names for them to work with SoftMac, e.g. 06684214 – Quadra 630.ROM became Quadra630.ROM

I suggest putting the ROM file in to the same installation folder as the SoftMac application unless you plan on running multiple emulators.

3. Create or download a hard drive “image file”

Disk images are essentially binary (bit for bit) copies of the contents of a storage device or medium such as your Hard Drive, removable drive, memory card or CD-ROM (ISO files).

If you are hoping to use SoftMac to help you set up a real Macintosh system you’ll want to read a separate blog entry I’ve written that explains what drive images are and how to create them, the same blog entry also has links to image files I’ve already created with the minimal versions of System 6.0.8 and System 7.5.5 already installed along with some other useful utilities.  Note: not all systems can boot System 6.0.8.

For this walk through I’m going to my System 7.5.5. image file for 4GB SD cards that I created for use with SCSI2SD as my boot drive and a blank image file I created from a FAT32 formatted 16GB SD card that I’m going to initialize and setup using SoftMac so I can write it back to the 16GB SD card for use with SCSI2SD.

4. Configure SoftMac

The first time you run SoftMac it will launch an auto-configuration wizard that will step you through the setup process:

  1. RunSOFTMAC.exe
  2. SoftMac will prompt you that it is running the Auto-configure program (Figure 2), select OK.
  3. SoftMac will then prompt you asking if you want to use a ROM file or a ROM card (Figure 3), select OK
  4. SoftMac will prompt you to select the location of the ROM BIOS file(s)
  5. The ROM BIOS Setup window (Figure 4) will appear:
    • Press the Scan button, the list of available ROM BIOS image files should appear in that list.
    • Select Close
  6. The SoftMac profile selector (Figure 5) should now be displayed.
  7. Select the profile you want to edit or copy, I’m going to select the Classic profile with a Macintosh Plus BIOS for this example.
  8. Select the properties button.
  9. The Properties Wndow (Figure 6) let’s you:
    • Change the resolution: only 512×342 is available in the classic profile (higher resolutions are available under the other 2 profiles)
    • The amount of memory: select 4M (more memory is available under the other 2 profiles)
    • The BIOS file: I’ve selected the Macintosh Plus file v3 from the internet archive.
    • Check the Windows file access check box
    • Press Disk Properties
  10. The Disk Properties Window (Figure 7) let’s you:
    • Map the emulated MAC’s drive to a floppy drive or image file.  If you don’t intend to use this, I suggest disabling it.  I found SoftMac started significantly faster with floppy drive emulation disabled.
    • Map your CD-ROM or Hard drive images.  For this example I’m mapping 2 image files:
    • Select Close
  11. On the Properties Window (Figure 6) select Save, and then Ok
  12. On the profile window (Figure 5) select the profile you just edited, and press the Restart button.
  13. If you followed my guide, and used my 4gig and 16gig files you should now see the Mac Desktop in SoftMac (Figure 8)

Figure 2: Auto-configure warning

Figure 3: ROM file or card?

Figure 4: ROM setup

Figure 5: Profiles

Figure 6: Profile Properties

Figure 7: Disk Properties

Figure 8: Macintosh Desktop

5. Using SoftMac to initialize an image file

Assuming you’ve included the 16GBSD.dsk or another image file you created from an SD card or other drive/device, you’ll now need to initialize it.

  1. Read my entry on how to Initialize and Partition your Hard Drive
  2. For SoftMac there appears to be an upper limit of 2857952KB  for each drive (Figure 9).
  3. If I save this image back on to the SD card and put it in my SCSI2SD, and load it on my Macintosh LCIII it will only see the initialized space, but if I re-initialize, it will see the entire 16GB.   To get around this you could use SCSI2SD to set up the SD card as multiple drives, with the first “drive” being under 2GB.  You could then use DD to only image the first 2GB of the SD card.


Figure 9: Partition Custom

6. Using SoftMac to edit image files

If you are using one of my drive images as your boot disk under SoftMac, under the Drivers and Extensions folder you’ll find a folder called Softmac, inside the SoftMac folder is an application called Transfer that will let you move files to and from your Emulated Mac and the host system.

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