System 4.2, was released as part of System Software 5.0 (not to be confused with System 5, which never really existed), alongside Finder 6.0. It met the Macintosh public in October 1987.

Apple started to use "System Software" version numbering with this release of the Macintosh system software to indicate a specific software bundle release. Previously, users had to track the System and Finder versions separately, which caused confusion regarding which versions worked well together. A "packaged" name for the combined System and Finder took a lot of this guesswork out of the equation.

Several dramatic changes came with System 4.2:

  • The About the Finder dialog box was improved to display memory usage. The mountain scene, previously there, was re-located -- as a famous easter egg.
  • On Macs that supported color, the Color menu made its debut. (However, it was not available for the "classic" all-in-one Macs.
  • Finder copying dialog boxes now sported a progress bar and a cancel button.
  • Several new utlities, including Backgrounder, DA Handler, Easy Access and Print Monitor, as well as Background Printing with the LaserWriter, were introduced.
  • The Control Panel was updated.
  • MultiFinder and thus the era of multitasking on the Macintosh debuted. (Though it is true that multitasking capabilities were available before then using Mac ROM author Andy Hertzfeld's app "Servant", it was not officially endorsed by Apple.)
  • To go with MultiFinder was the Set Startup menu command in the Special menu, which allowed users to choose between the regular (single-task) Finder and MultiFinder.
  • MiniFinder was removed.

Of course, with these substantial additions came a massive increase in size. System 4.2 was over five times larger than System 4.1!

System 4

System 4.0 | System 4.1 | System 4.2 | System 4.3

← System 3 | System 4 | System 5

Macintosh system software
Macintosh System: System 1 | System 2 | System 3 | System 4 | System 5 | System 6 | System 7
Mac OS: Mac OS 8 | Mac OS 9 | Mac OS X