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Online Documentation
Updated January 17, 2003

Welcome to the SoftMac Online Documentation page. This is where we show you how to download and install the latest releases of SoftMac 2000 and SoftMac XP. If you have purchased SoftMac on CD-ROM you should also consult the printed manual which came with your CD-ROM. If you are currently running an older version of SoftMac (prior to 8.20) by all means go to our download page and run the latest SoftMac installer. This will install the latest online releases of SoftMac, Gemulator, and Xformer.

After you read this documentation and get the software installed, there are two other pages you should read:

Changes and improvements in the Gemulator 2000 and SoftMac XP releases

A little bit about the history and capabilities of SoftMac...

We have been offering PC users the ability to run both Atari ST and Apple Macintosh software on MS-DOS based PC for about 10 years now. For most of that time, the functionality of emulating and running Atari and Macintosh was provided in a single combined product called Gemulator, first on MS-DOS, and then later on Windows 3.1 and Windows 95.

In 1998 after releasing Gemulator version 6.0, we split Gemulator into Atari specific and Macintosh specific product lines. The Atari emulation product retained the name Gemulator, while the new Macintosh emulation product was named SoftMac. The original release of SoftMac 2000 launched in 1999 at COMDEX Las Vegas was thus the 7th generation of emulation technology and was also called SoftMac version 7.0 rather than version 1.0. SoftMac 2000 included the obligatory Y2K bug fixes, Pentium III and Athlon optimizations (which had both been released earlier in 1999), and Windows 2000 fixes (which was about to be released in early 2000).

During the spring and summer of 2000 we released the SoftMac 7.1 (Service Release 1) and SoftMac 7.2 (Service Release 2) upgrades to add some additional Windows 2000 and Windows Millennium fixes. Although we are treating the 8.0 release as a 3rd service release, the 8.0 release is actually based on a new emulation engine. In almost all cases the 8.0 engine is faster over the previous generation, while using significantly less disk space and memory. Most of our SoftMac 8.0 benchmarks (Speedometer, Photoshop, Fractals, boot speed, etc.) are faster across the board compared to version 7.2.

The new version 8 engine also eliminates the problem in version 7 of using Gemulator for running 24-bit 68000 code (i.e. 32-bit "dirty" code) and using SoftMac to run 32-bit clean code. The good news is the new version 8 engine handles 24-bit and 32-bit address equally well, eliminating the need for two versions of SoftMac. As a bonus, you can now even bring up the Memory control panel in Mac OS and toggle 24-bit and 32-bit addressing and it will work just fine, increase the stability and compatibility of our product quite a bit with older Mac software. The changes also allow other control panels and Mac OS utilities, such as Monitors & Sounds and Drive Setup, to work better than before.

Another major change was the addition of the new Auto Configure command. Your email feedback indicated that our products, especially SoftMac, were hard to set up due to the numerous settings that had to be specified before using the product. Now with Auto Configure, you need merely answer a few simple questions and have the product running in a few seconds. The product will figure out and set various options automatically, although you are still free to manually adjust them at any time.

In July 2001, we launched SoftMac XP based on the version 8.1 engine which added support for Windows XP. In April 2002 we released SoftMac XP version 8.2 which contained significant rewrites to deliver significantly faster performance on both Intel Pentium 4 and AMD Athlon XP processors, from 30% to 100% faster.

Finally, we added the Tools menu to Gemulator and SoftMac which adds disk imaging commands directly to the emulators. While this functionality already exists in the separate Gemulator Explorer utility, many users found it annoying to switch between the emulator and the disk utility. So we put the most common Gemulator Explorer features directly into the emulators - formatting a blank Macintosh floppy disk, creating a disk image from a floppy, writing an image back to a floppy, and creating blank hard disk image files.

Overall, since the original release of SoftMac 2000, we've updated it to support quite a few more Macintosh ROMs including ROMs that no other emulator supports, we've added the disk imaging features mentioned above, fixed compatibility problems with Mac OS, worked around bug in Windows drivers and difference in various Windows releases, added the Auto Configure feature mentioned above, and made many other changes. The partial (but certainly not the complete) list of recent changes is listed here:

There are 3 distinct Macintosh hardware configurations that are emulated by SoftMac XP are:

The full licensed install of SoftMac XP supports a maximum of 1024 megabytes of Macintosh memory under Mac OS 8 and a maximum screen resolution of 1920x1080. Most video cards now support such large resolutions, although your monitor may not. Therefore the maximum amount of memory and screen resolution available on your system will depend on the available memory of your PC, the video modes supports by your PC's video card and monitor, and the specific release of Mac OS that you are running.

Hardware, Software, and Memory Requirements

A detailed explanation of the hardware requirements needed to run SoftMac, and the kind of speed you should expect from your PC, are given on our Benchmarks page. In general here are some quick tips:

Windows PC requirements: Xformer 2000, Gemulator 2000, and SoftMac XP run on 32-bit compatible versions of Windows. That is, Windows 95, Windows 95 OSR2, Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows NT 4, Windows 2000, Windows Millennium, Windows XP, and Windows 2003. All processors which support Windows 98 or higher are supported.

Virtual memory and memory requirements: SoftMac uses virtual memory provided by Windows to emulate up to 1024 megabytes of Macintosh memory. Make sure that you have enough swap file space on the hard disk to allow Windows to create as much virtual memory as necessary.

SCSI and CD-ROM support: SoftMac supports most ZIP, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, and DVD-ROM drives, whether internal, external, IDE, USB, or SCSI. It also support external Macintosh SCSI hard disks. The CD-ROM and SCSI emulation requires that the Windows ASPI driver is installed and is current. ASPI is installed by default in Windows 95 OSR2, Windows 98, Windows Millennium, Windows XP, and Windows 2003, but must be installed manually on Windows 95, Windows NT 4 and Windows 2000.

ROM image support: SoftMac supports all 68K compatible Macintosh BIOS ROM image files that are 64K, 128K, 256K, 512K, 1M, or 2M in size. The ROM images can be created from your own Macintosh computer, including the Plus, II, IIx, IIcx, IIci, IIsi, IIfx, Classic II, Color Classic, SE/30, LC, LC II, LC III, LC475, Quadra 605, Quadra 610, Quadra 650, Quadra 700, Quadra 900, Quadra 950, Quadra AV, and others. All ROM images supported by other Macintosh emulators are supported.

ROM card support: If you do not own a supported Macintosh and cannot create a ROM image file, then you need to physically plug in a ROM card with appropriate Macintosh ROMs. The ROM card is manufactured and sold by Emulators and requires an available ISA slot. Check your computer to make sure you have an available ISA slot! To be able to use Mac OS 8 you must plug in a 4-chip set of 512K Macintosh ROM (for example, IIci, LC, or LC II ROMs). To use System 7 you can also use a 4-chip set of 256K Macintosh II ROMs or a 2-chip set of Macintosh Plus ROMs.

Mac OS support: SoftMac supports all 68K compatible Mac OS releases, including System 7.0.1, 7.1, 7.5, 7.5.3, 7.5.5, Mac OS 7.6, 7.6.1, 8.0, and the latest 8.1. Mac OS 8.5 or higher are not supported by existing SoftMac releases, but will be supported in future releases of SoftMac Professional.

PowerPC support: Why only support up to 68040 processors and not PowerPC? Keep in mind that the great majority of Macintosh software out there does not require a PowerPC processor or even Mac OS 8.5, as most Mac software is written for the 68000 or 68040 and compatible with Mac OS 8.1 or earlier. Macintosh computers have been around since 1984, and most Macintosh software written until about 2000 was actually still 68020 or 68040 based. Even the Mac OS itself was mostly 68040 code right until the release of Mac OS 9, unfortunately leaving millions of owners of PowerMac computers with nothing more than PowerPC machines that spent most of their time emulating a 68040. So at this time, until PowerPC actually becomes prevalent on the Mac, you will need to run 68000 and 68040 compatible versions of Mac OS and Mac applications on our emulators.

If your PC meets all of the above requirements, as well as the hardware requirements listed here, should you then proceed to install SoftMac.

Support and Problem Reporting

As can happen even when setting up a real Macintosh computer from scratch, you may encounter problems getting everything to work. This can be caused by using an incorrect Macintosh ROM BIOS, trying to boot the wrong Mac OS version with a given ROM BIOS, or some other common problem.

Due to the thousands of downloads of SoftMac every week, we cannot provide support to non-customers. If you are a paid and registered SoftMac customer, we do provide additional support by email. Be sure to indicate the following pieces of information when reporting a problem:

If you do not submit at least this information there is little we will be able to do to help you. It also helps, but is not required, that you submit a screen shot of the problem. You can take a screen shot of your entire Windows desktop by pressing the PrntScrn key (or Print Screen on some keyboards). You can take a smaller screen shot of just the SoftMac window by pressing both the Alt and PrntScrn keys. Then use the Edit Paste command in your email editor to send us the screen shot.

Installing SoftMac (with Gemulator and Xformer)

Step 1 - Run the product installer

The SoftMac XP Xpress Edition, SoftMac XP Classic Edition, SoftMac 2000, Gemulator 2000, and Xformer 2000 emulators are installed at the same time by a common setup program. Whether you download the free release from our download page or you have a SoftMac 2000 CD-ROM, just run SETUP.EXE which will install the following files to a C:\GEMUL8R directory on your PC:

In the same C:\GEMUL8R directory you will also find a folder called APPLEMAC which contains these additional files:

Shortcuts to these programs are also added to your Windows Programs menu. So go ahead and...

Download the latest release of SoftMac

Step 2 - Create a ROM BIOS image

Gemulator and SoftMac will not run without the appropriate ROM BIOS taken out of your Atari ST or Apple Macintosh computer. If you have purchased and installed our ROM card with ROMs, then you can skip this step completely since your ROMs are already installed and ready to be used. Consult your printed manual for directions on how to install the ROM card.

To create a Macintosh ROM image file you need to get the CopyROM utility over to your Macintosh computer. You can do this in one of those ways:

Now run the CopyROM utility on your Macintosh. It will display the ROM checksum of your Macintosh computer's ROM BIOS. Verify that the checksum matches one of the 30 or so supported ROMs listed on our ROM chart. If it matches, then go ahead and save the ROM image to disk, and name the file something like MAC.ROM. Then copy that ROM file back to the PC. You can use the same Utilities floppy disk, or use a removable disk such as a ZIP disk. If the disk is in Macintosh format, use the Gemulator Explorer utility to drag and drop the file from the Macintosh disk to your PC's C: drive.

Macintosh BIOS ROM image files should have a .ROM extension and should be placed either in the root of your PC's C: drive, or in the same directory as your SoftMac program. To make sure that your Mac ROM is supported, see our ROM chart. If your ROM is not listed, then it is not supported by SoftMac and you will to purchase a ROM card with ROMs instead.

Please remember to stay LEGAL and create ROM images of computers that you own. If you do not own an appropriate Macintosh computer to create a ROM image with, then you need to obtain our ROM card and Macintosh ROM bundle. We also offer an essential Macintosh software bundle which includes Mac OS and useful applications.

Step 3 - Booting Mac OS from a startup disk

Finally, you will need to boot the Mac OS. You can use any 1.44M Mac OS boot floppy that came with your existing Macintosh computer, or use Mac OS installation CD-ROM. SoftMac supports the Mac OS 7.5, 7.6, 8.0, and 8.1 CD-ROMs.

To save some time, you can also use your existing Macintosh computer to create a bootable Mac OS partition on a portable disk such as an external SCSI hard disk or an Iomega ZIP disk. Once you have formatted the disk and installed the Mac OS to it, just disconnect the disk from your Macintosh, connect it to your PC using the SCSI or USB port, and SoftMac will be able to boot directly from it! Literally transplant all your Macintosh files to your PC in minutes!

If you have lost your original Mac OS boot floppy or installation CD-ROM, you are in luck. Apple makes older 68K versions of Mac OS (7.5.5 and earlier) freely available on the web at their FTP site. Simply browse this FTP directory on Apple's site:


Several versions of both System 6 and System 7 are available in the form of boot floppy images. If you are using pre-68040 ROMs (such as Mac Plus, Mac II, or Mac LC) we recommend you download the basic System 6.0.8 boot disk, as this is a general purpose boot disk that will boot with any older 68K Mac.

If you are using 68040 ROMs, i.e. Quadra, Centris, Performa, LC 580 series, LC 630 series, LC III, etc., then you should download a System 7.0.1 or higher boot disk.

If you are running System 7.5, 7.6, or Mac OS 8, you should also download the latest Drive Setup 1.7 formatting utility from the following page:


The versions of Drive Setup that come with Mac OS 7.6 and 8.0 have known bugs and should not be used. We recommend using the Drive Setup 1.7 above, or use the recent versions found on the Mac OS 8.1, Mac OS 8.5, and Mac OS 8.0 CD-ROMs. Yes, I said 9.0. While Mac OS 9 does need PowerPC to boot up, the dirty secret is that most of the files in Mac OS 9 are actually still 68040 programs are can be used on older Macs and on SoftMac. On a real PowerPC based Macintosh computer, most Mac OS 9 programs actually run in 68K emulation mode.

Finally, to decompress and extract some of these disk image files, you will need to use the Windows version of Aladdin StuffIt Expander. You can download and install Expander directly from Aladdin's web site at:


When you download disk images, select the MacBinary version to download, then use the StuffIt Expander on Windows to extract the raw disk image file which is usually 1474644 bytes (i.e. 1.44 megabytes) in size. You can mount that disk image as a Mac floppy directly in SoftMac using the Disk Properties dialog box, or use the Write Disk Image to Floppy Disk menu in SoftMac to create a real floppy boot disk.

Note: Other free Mac OS releases and Mac OS utilities can be searched for and downloaded from Apple's web site at: http://asu.info.apple.com.

Running SoftMac

Once you have installed a Macintosh ROM BIOS and have a bootable Mac OS boot disk, run SoftMac. You will be prompted by the Auto Configure feature. By default, this will create three new Macintosh profiles, or modes. One profile will be called Macintosh Classic and is used to run older black and white 68000 Macintosh programs. The second profile is called Macintosh II and should be used to run 32-bit dirty Macintosh II compatible programs. The third default profile is called Macintosh Quadra and is of course used to run Mac OS 8 and 32-bit clean programs. You can create additional profiles, up to 16 of them.

You will be asked to specify where your ROM image file is. If you created one and placed it it a directory other than C:\ or the SoftMac program directly, click on the appropriate directory when prompted. Click Cancel if you are not using a ROM image file or if you placed the image in one of the two default locations.

The next step is the ROM BIOS Setup dialog box, (formerly called First Time Setup). This is the dialog box that actually scans your PC for the ROM BIOS. Click on the Scan button to have SoftMac find your ROMs.

Next your will be asked if you wish to install your CD-ROM drives. What this feature does is find any IDE or SCSI CD-ROM drives in your PC and installs them in each of the three Macintosh profiles. If you plan to use Macintosh CD-ROMs in emulation, go ahead and do this, otherwise cancel it.

At this point SoftMac is configured to a very basic set of profiles. Depending on which Macintosh ROM BIOS or BIOSes you have installed, one or more of the profiles can be selected with the Mode selector on the main SoftMac menu dialog. Use the Properties command to adjust things like Macintosh memory and screen size. Use the Disk Properties command to add additional disk drive devices and disk image files to each profile.

Macintosh Classic mode supports 64K original Macintosh, 128M Macintosh Plus, 256K Macintosh SE, and 512K Macintosh Classic ROMs. This mode is limited to 4 megabytes of memory, a limitation of those older Macs, and is black and white only. You can run all versions of Mac OS up to 7.5.5 in this mode. You will typically boot from a System 7 startup disk or you can boot from a Mac OS 7.5 system CD-ROM. This mode is similar to the type of emulation provided by the vMac emulator.

Macintosh II mode supports 256K and 512K Macintosh II series ROMs, including the original Macintosh II, and the enhanced Macintosh IIx, IIcx, IIci, IIsi, IIfx, IIvx, Classic II, LC II, and other similar models. This mode can run in either 24-bit or 32-bit mode. Using 256K ROMs, you are limited to 8 megabytes of memory in 24-bit mode. Using 512K ROMs you can switch to 32-bit mode and select up to 48 megabytes of memory. This mode is similar to the type of emulation provided by the Basilisk II emulator.

Macintosh Quadra mode supports 512K, 1M, and 2M ROMs from Macintosh LC, Performa, Centris, and Quadra models. These ROMs all support Mac OS 8.0 and 8.1, between 64 to 1024 megabytes of memory (depending on the ROM), and generally run faster than earlier Macintosh ROMs. This mode is similar to the emulation provided by the FUSION PC emulator.

The beauty of SoftMac of course is that you have the best of all 3 worlds in one emulator, and with faster speed!

Where the settings are stored

SoftMac saves its settings separate from Gemulator. SoftMac uses the SOFTMAC.INI file while Gemulator uses the GEM2000.INI file. Both files can be found in your main Windows directory, and on newer releases of Windows, in your personal settings directory. To load a previously saved settings file from an earlier release of Gemulator or SoftMac, click on the Import Configuration menu item and specify the older INI file.

Booting from an external Mac hard disk or ZIP disk

If you took my advice and created a bootable Mac OS hard disk or ZIP disk on your Macintosh, now is the time to tell SoftMac about it. Click on the Disk Properties menu in SoftMac to configure the Mac disk devices. If booting from Mac boot floppy, make sure that the first Mac floppy disk device in the dialog box is mapped to the PC's A: drive (or B: drive depending on how your PC maps the floppy disk drives). An LS-120 Superdisk drive is NOT a regular floppy disk drives but is actually treated as a SCSI device and you should map the floppy to the appropriate SCSI device. You will need to have ASPI installed as well.

External SCSI hard disks should be mounted as SCSI device 0 in the dialog box. CD-ROM drives should be mounted as SCSI device 1 or higher. Mac OS does not correctly handle a CD-ROM drive at SCSI ID 0.

Booting from an .HFX or .IMG file

SoftMac does support disk volume images created on the Macintosh (.IMG, .HFX, and .HFV files) and true SCSI hard disk and CD-ROM disk image files created by Gemulator Explorer (.DSK and .CD files). The disk volume images created on the Macintosh are not true SCSI disk images (as they lack the boot sector, partition map, and other critical disk sector). Therefore they must be mounted as floppy disk devices. The Mac OS will simply see them as large floppy disks, regardless of the size.

True SCSI disk image files (the .DSK or .CD files created by Gemulator Explorer) can be mounted as SCSI devices and SoftMac will treat them as suck. Be sure to specify in the dialog box whether the SCSI disk image is to be treated as a normal hard disk or as a CD-ROM. You will get strange behavior if you mount a CD as a hard disk for example.

Advanced menu options

Once you have the emulator booting Mac OS, you may wish to optimize the performance and customize the settings further. There are several menu options under the Options and Advanced menus that are useful:

By default, when you go through Auto Configure, some of these options will be set to their "safe" settings. Full screen mode will be disabled, the hardware timer will be used, etc. We do this to save you the trouble of having the emulator crash, hang, or malfunction due to the various problems mentioned above. This also means the emulator is not running as fast as possible. Only once you have the emulator up and running and the good settings saved should you attempt to change the settings listed above.

We've set it up so that when all the menu items under the Advanced menu are not selected, and the hardware timer option is not selected, the emulator is running as fast as possible. As you start enabling more menu options, the emulators gets safer, but slower.

You should enable the Skip Startup Screen option once you have your settings perfected so that you can boot the emulator that much faster yet! Similarly set the Save On Exit option to automatically remember your settings between sessions. Otherwise you can manually click on Save when you change settings.

Finally, if you wish to share files between your Mac OS volumes and your PC's disk partitions, enable the Windows File System option in the Properties dialog box. You can then use the Transfer utility provided on our Utilities floppy to copy files back and forth. More recent versions of SoftMac also support directly drag and drop file copying between Mac and PC volumes, but only if the the Windows File System option is on.

For more detailed directions on installing Mac OS and installing Macintosh applications with SoftMac, please read our Beginner's Guide online tutorial.

Formatting Macintosh floppy disks

SoftMac can read Macintosh floppy disks, hard disks, CD-ROMs, and disk image files directly. That means that you can literally start SoftMac, drop in a Mac OS 7.6 or Mac OS 8 boot CD-ROM, boot up the Mac OS, and run the setup utility to install Mac OS on your PC's hard disk.

Sometimes you will need to format a blank Macintosh floppy disk. If your PC has a standard 3.5 inch floppy disk drive installed as drive letter A:, you can quickly format a Macintosh floppy disk without even booting Mac OS. Just run SoftMac 2000 or SoftMac XP and click on the Format 1.44M Mac Floppy menu item. Insert a pre-formatted DOS or Macintosh floppy disk and then click OK. Your disk will be quick formatted in Macintosh format in about 3 seconds. Insert another disk and repeat this if you wish to format another floppy disk.

Creating new Macintosh hard disk partitions

Borrowing an idea used by Linux and many emulation products, SoftMac does not require you to physically reformat your PC's hard disk. Instead, it uses what are called "disk containers", "disk images", or "virtual disks" to store Macintosh hard disk volumes on your PC's hard disk.

Both the Gemulator 8.0 and SoftMac 8.0 emulators now have a new Tools menu which makes creating disk images stupidly simple. Simply click on the Create Unformatted SCSI Disk Image (.DSK) menu item, then specify the size of disk image to create, then specify the filename to create it as. That's it! A few seconds later your disk image will be ready.

The newly created disk image is blank, filled with zero bytes only, and is thus not "formatted". You still need to run your Atari ST disk formatter such as HDX, or your Mac OS disk formatter (Drive Setup or Apple SC HD Setup), in order for the disk image to be bootable and so that files can be copied to it.

If you need to create a pre-formatted Macintosh compatible disk volume image, a .HFX file, click on the Create Formatted Mac OS Volume Image (.HFX) menu instead. The newly created disk image can then be used by SoftMac, as well as vMac, Basilisk II, and FUSION PC.

You can create and mount up to 9 disk images per profile or use a combination of 9 disk images and real physical disk drives.

Accessing IDE CD-ROM drives, SCSI devices, and LS-120 Superdisks

There is a common device driver in Windows called ASPI (the file WNASPI32.DLL in your Windows system directory) which handles low level access to CD-ROM, DVD, SCSI, ZIP, Jaz, ATAPI, and Superdisk drives. You must have ASPI installed in order for Mac OS to access these devices, since Mac OS is bypassing the Windows file system complete.

ASPI is built in to Windows 98, Me, XP, and 2003, but need to be installed manually on Windows 95, Windows NT, and Windows 2000. Adaptec has posted a version 4.60 of their ASPI driver which fixes many bugs and adds Windows 2000 support. We highly recommend that all Windows users upgrade their ASPI driver to the 4.60 version. It can be downloaded from Adaptec's web site.

It has been pointed out that unless you have an Adaptec SCSI card already installed in your PC, the ASPI driver will not install. In other words, if you're not running Windows 98 where ASPI is installed already, you're in trouble. Most CD-ROM drives come with their own ASPI driver, but if your manufacturer does not provide one you can use Adaptec's driver thanks to a minor workaround. We thank Mark A. Clark for finding this tip:


We have also found that the legal DeCSS utility (available from various sites on the Internet) includes a good WNASPI32.DLL file that is compatible with Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000. Therefore if you have already installed DeCSS (and who hasn't!) you should already have ASPI installed and working.

Special Keystrokes in SoftMac

The following keystrokes have special meaning in SoftMac XP, SoftMac 2000, Gemulator 2000, and Xformer 2000:

Troubleshooting Tips

There are some things to keep in mind that will save you time and headaches:

Remember, if you get stuck and want to change a setting or exit, click the right mouse button or press Ctrl+F11 to bring up SoftMac's main menu.

Also remember that PC floppy disks don't read true 400K and 800K Mac floppy disks, only high density 1.44M HD disks used by newer Macs, and the special "10 sector" format used by some other Macintosh emulators. To make the PC detect a new floppy disk, simply press F11.

If all else fails, take our step-by-step visual Beginner's Guide to running Mac OS 8 on Windows.

If you still have any problems running SoftMac please email us with the relevant information so that we are aware of the problem.

AboutAnnouncementsXformer - Atari 8-bit emulationGemulator - Atari ST EmulationFREE DOWNLOADSEmulators Online Home PageSoftMac and Fusion PC - Apple Macintosh emulationDirty Little SecretsShow Schedule

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