Downgrading to Tiger

What’s that saying: art imitates life, which imitates art, which… Recently I wrote an article for Low End Mac about Tips for Installing or Reinstalling Mac OS X Tiger, based on the many experiences I’ve had in getting that OS installed onto a Mac. Since Tiger (the 10.4.x) series is now discontinued by Apple, it falls into the realm of systems I include in the Vintage Mac Museum.

It isn’t dead in the real world yet, either.

Last week I had an opportunity in my consulting practice to again prove that newer is not always better. My client, an artist/graphic designer, had an iMac G4 originally running Mac OS X Panther (10.3.x) and using some older OS X apps (Photoshop 7, Illustrator 10, AOL Desktop) and a Mac OS 9 “Classic” app (PageMaker 7) in her work. After experiencing several months of problems involving intermittent internet connectivity, another tech upgraded her iMac to Mac OS X Leopard (10.5.x) as an attempted fix. This didn’t help much with the internet problems – they turned out to be DSL related – but now many of her existing apps didn’t work correctly.

Classic mode isn’t supported in OS X Leopard, even on PowerPC based Macs; this meant PageMaker v7 was now unusable. Also, both Photoshop v7 and Illustrator v10 have compatibility issues with Leopard, the newer generation of these apps (Photoshop CS, Illustrator CS) are needed for full compatibility. That’s a large cost in supplemental application upgrades to support an OS which wasn’t solving the main problem at hand.

To add insult to injury, the AOL Desktop app consistently required a Force Quit when done. Seems you just can’t get rid of AOL no matter how hard you try…

I suggested to my client that we downgrade her installation from Leopard to Tiger, which would support Classic mode and her other Adobe applications. To downgrade an OS you need to do either an Erase & Install (often referred to as a Clean Installation) or an Archive & Install. I chose the latter (as I usually do), but in this direction the option to Preserve Users and Groups was not presented. A brief hmmmm moment ensued, then I backed up her home directory and all Classic and non-Apple apps to an external disk before we began. I figured I could copy the relevant files back into the new account once the process was completed, and fortunately was correct.

Once Tiger was reinstalled on the iMac (it took two attempts, ultimately requiring an Erase & Install) everything worked again. Photoshop 7 and Illustrator 10 worked as usual, Classic launched and displayed PageMaker 7 in it’s Charcoal’esque glory, and AOL quit when commanded. Unlike Panther, but like Leopard, she now has current versions of Safari and Firefox to use for internet access. And, a better DSL modem.

Sometimes, going backwards is the best option.

One response to “Downgrading to Tiger”

  1. Adam Rosen says:


    Anonymous said…
    Hello Adam
    Interesting stuff, and I wonder if I can do the same with my G5 Power Mac. It had either Tiger 10.4.11 or Leopard installed on it, and there is a boot problem on the main Disc, so it boots up to a point and then switches itself off. The only discs I have are Tiger 10.4, but if I try to boot up from that in the DVD drive I get ‘Unsupported’ – I assume meaning that it is an older version than is installed. How do I get around this with my 10.4 install disc?
    Robert, London, UK.
    March 22, 2010 at 8:14 PM

    Adam Rosen said…
    Hi Robert, you should be able to reinstall Tiger on your G5, but there are several different kinds of install discs – full installers, updaters, and machine specific installers. For more info see this article on my Oakbog website: Challenges in (Re)Installing Mac OS X Tiger
    March 22, 2010 at 9:12 PM

    Jon said…
    August 20, 2010 at 12:59 PM

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