SheepShaver Setup Manual for Mac OS X

The manual below is an early, and long outdated, version of my SheepShaver setup guide. In fact, I forgot about its existence on the internet until someone recently told me that it is still there and even ranks high in web search results.

The current version of this manual is regularly updated and can be found on the E-Maculation site:

A SheepShaver support forum is among the Macintosh emulation support forums on the E-Maculation site:

More info about SheepShaver and links to the latest versions also on the E-Maculation site:

September 26, 2011
Ronald P. Regensburg
Amsterdam, Netherlands

SheepShaver Setup Manual for Mac OS X (Tiger or Leopard)

To keep it simple, I will describe a setup with all files together in a folder "SheepShaver". That folder can be anywhere you like, for instance in your Home folder. If the needed files are in the same folder with SheepShaver, no full paths are required for configuration, just file names will work. (Files and folders can be renamed and/or moved to different locations afterwards, provided you make sure the new names and/or full paths to the files are entered in SheepShaver preferences.)

Note: Changed settings in preferences are saved when the preferences window is closed, but the changes will not take effect until the SheepShaver application is quit and launched again.

Note: With most compatible ROM files SheepShaver for Mac OS X can only run Mac OS 8.5, 8.6, 9.0 or 9.0.4. and only generic install CDs for those Mac OS versions can be used. A system install CD provided with a new Mac will usually only install on that specific model. SheepShaver cannot run 9.1 or later.

The files you need in your SheepShaver folder

1. The SheepShaver application

Recent builds of SheepShaver for Mac OS X have the preferences editor built-in, so no separate SheepShaverGUI or SheepShaverPrefs application is needed anymore. With current builds you will find two versions of the SheepShaver application, one (H) using the hardware cursor and one (S) using the software cursor.

Whether you prefer the hardware cursor version or the software cursor version is mainly a matter of taste on fast host machines. It will depend on the applications you use in SheepShaver. The hardware cursor version uses one cursor inside and outside the SheepShaver window, but does not correctly display custom cursors of some applications inside SheepShaver. The software cursor version displays all cursor images correctly, but cursors are switched between the Mac OS and the Mac OS X cursor when moving in and out of the SheepShaver window. On slow host machines the software cursor may move jerkily in SheepShaver, even to the extend of being unusable.

2. A compatible ROM file

It may be difficult to get hold of a compatible ROM file as distributing bare ROM files violates Apple license agreements.

ROM files collected from some PowerMacs may work. The "Mac OS ROM" file from a Mac OS 8.6 CD or from the Mac OS 8.6 Update may work. The ROM file from the "Mac OS ROM Update 1.0" will certainly work, but for extracting the ROM file from the Mac OS ROM Update or from the Mac OS 8.6 update you will need "TomeViewer" running in Mac OS or in Classic under Mac OS X.

See also:
SheepShaver FAQ:
About Mac OS ROM Update:
Extracting ROM file:

Although distributing ROM files is considered illegal, when you search the web or file exchange communities, you will find downloadable ROM files ready for use.

Note: When you have acquired a compatible ROM file, rename it "Mac OS ROM" (without the quotation marks) if that is not yet its name. (SheepShaver will recognise a ROM file with that name if it is in the same folder when no prefs file is yet configured.)

3. A folder inside the SheepShaver folder named "shared"

4. A keycodes file

The keycodes file is not needed (but does no harm either) when only a US American QWERTY keyboard layout will be used. If you did not get a keycodes file with your SheepShaver application, you can download one from my site:

5. A CD disk image file made from a Mac OS install CD (only needed when you will not install from a actual install CD)

Note: The CD disk image file (for instance a .iso file) should be locked to make sure the system will be satisfied that it is running from a CD. You can lock the file in Finder Info (command-I on the selected file and check the "locked" checkbox).

Configuring SheepShaver

1. Start SheepShaver

If you have installed a compatible ROM file, SheepShaver will launch and show in its window a grey floppy icon with blinking "?", indicating that the emulated Mac has not found a startup volume.

Blinking question mark

Note: On PPC Macs SheepShaver will quasi crash on each launch. Simply dismiss the message about SheepShaver having quit unexpectedly (which it has not) by clicking the Close button in the dialog.

2. Open Preferences from SheepShaver application menu

The settings will be saved in a invisible file .sheepshaver_prefs in your Home folder. The following description assumes that SheepShaver is set up for the first time and there is no pre-existing ~/.sheepshaver_prefs file.

Setup tab

Preferences Setup tab (blank)

The first thing to do, is to add the ROM file using the "Browse..." button to find and "Open" the ROM file. SheepShaver already recognized the "Mac OS ROM" file, but will not find it again on next launch if the Preferences window was closed without the ROM file name entered here.
If you accidently closed the preferences window and quit SheepShaver without correctly entering the name (or path) of a compatible ROM file, you can proceed with the stand-alone preferences editor that can be downloaded from this forum topic:


You can now proceed with creating the disk image file that will be the virtual hard disk on the emulated Mac. Click the "Create..." button.

Create volume

Choose an appropriate name for the image file, for instance MacOS9. (An extension .dsk will be suggested, but no extension is needed.) Choose a size for the volume (for instance 500MB or 1000MB) and save the file in the SheepShaver folder. (Creating a large disk image may take a while after the "Save" button is clicked, wait till the created volume appears in the Volumes list.)

Preferences Setup tab

(Only if a CD disk image file is used instead of a real install CD: Use the "Add..." button to find and "Open" the CD disk image file in the SheepShaver folder. The file will appear in the Volumes list below the created volume.)

In the box "Unix Root" enter "shared" (without the quotation marks), the name of the shared folder inside the SheepShaver folder. Do not keep the default value "/" !

Enter a value for the amount of RAM in MB that the virtual Mac will have. For instance 128 or 256 or 512. The maximum value is 512, SheepShaver will not run if a higher value is entered.

Leave "Boot From" set to "Any" (The setting "CD-ROM" is for force-booting from a CD-ROM while there is a bootable volume in the Volumes list.)

Leave "Disable CD-ROM Driver" unchecked.

Audio / Video tab

Preferences Audio/Video tab

Video Type: Window
(With the Fullscreen setting the screen stays black and SheepShaver will need to be force-quit.)

Refresh Rate: Dynamic
(Lower settings may improve overall performance on slow host machines, but will have a negative effect on cursor movements in the software cursor version of SheepShaver.)

Set Width and Height for the window to lower values than the width and height of your screen. If you have a large screen, you can enter higher values than those in the menu, for instance 1280 x 800.

Check QuickDraw Acceleration.

Ignore Audio Settings.

Miscellaneous tab

Preferences Miscellaneous tab

CPU Options: Check only "Allow Emulated CPU to Idle" and "Enable JIT Compiler".

"Use Raw Keycodes" is only needed for non-US keyboard layouts. Check the box and enter the name of the keycodes file.

Mouse Wheel Function and Lines to Scroll is a matter of taste. The image shows my preference.

Ignore Modem Device and Printer Port Device.

For Ethernet Interface enter "slirp" (without the quotation marks).

Saving the settings and quitting SheepShaver

Close the Preferences window to save the settings.

The emulated machine cannot be shutdown normally while waiting for a boot disk and SheepShaver cannot be quit with the emulated machine still running. So at this point we use Control-Escape to quit SheepShaver, which is equivalent to a hard shut down of the emulated machine.

Booting SheepShaver and installing the system

If you use a real install CD, first insert the CD and have it mount in Mac OS X. (Also later, when you want to use a CD-ROM in SheepShaver, you need to mount the CD in Mac OS X before you launch SheepShaver. SheepShaver only recognizes CD-ROMs, no audio CDs, no DVDs.)

Launch SheepShaver. The emulated machine will startup from the install CD (or from the CD disk image).

During startup, the system will encounter the newly created volume and will offer to initialize it. Give the volume an appropriate name (for instance MacOS9HD) and choose Mac OS Extended for the format. Click to proceed with initializing the volume.

Finally, you will see the desktop with icons for the startup volume (the CD or the CD disk image), the icon for the new volume that you will install the system onto, and the icon for a "Unix" volume that gives access to the shared folder in the SheepShaver folder on the Mac OS X side.

Proceed with the system installation and when the installation is completed, you can quit the installer.

If you used a CD disk image file: Open SheepShaver Preferences and remove the CD disk image file from the volumes list (select it and click the Remove button).

Shut down the emulated machine and quit SheepShaver.

If you used a real install CD, you can now remove it in Mac OS X.

Running the newly installed system in SheepShaver

When you launch SheepShaver, the emulated machine will boot from the installed system. The Configuration Assistant will guide you through the configuration of the new system. However, in SheepShaver the Configuration Assistant will usually lock-up while configuring network settings. It is better to quit the Assistant when it starts with the network settings and do the remaining configuration manually in the various control panels.

To enable sound in SheepShaver, "built-in" must be selected for the output device in "Sound" control panel. In Mac OS 9 the Sound control panel is installed with the other control panels and can be accessed in the Apple menu. In Mac OS 8.5/8.6 the Sound control panel is installed in the "Apple Extras" folder. You can use it there to select the built-in output device.

The Startup Disk control panel is non-functional in SheepShaver, trying to use it may cause SheepShaver to crash. SheepShaver will startup from the first bootable volume in the Volumes list, or from a bootable CD if no bootable volume is in the list, or always from a bootable CD when "Boot From" is set to CD-ROM in Preferences. Note that changed settings in preferences will take effect after SheepShaver is quit and launched again. With only a restart in the emulated machine new settings will not be used.

For network access, set the TCP/IP control panel to Ethernet and DHCP. As soon as you start using IP network access, for instance with a web-browser, the IP adresses will become visible in the control panel.

Exchanging files via the shared folder used to be crippled by many bugs, but it does work fine with current builds. Still, however, trashing files from that folder can best be done from the Mac OS X side. On the Mac OS side the trash can often not be emptied when it contains files from the shared folder (the "Unix" volume).

Questions and comments please on Emaculation SheepShaver forum:

July 21, 2008
Ronald P. Regensburg
Amsterdam, Netherlands