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Getting Started

Conventions

This document uses the following formatting conventions:

ℹ️ NOTE: Information that is useful but incidental to the text appears like this.

⚠️ WARNING: Important warnings appear like this.

🚧 FUTURE: Notes about upcoming versions of DeskTop appear like this.

Keyboard shortcuts will be called out using these symbols: 

△ = Open Apple (labeled on some keyboards)

▲ = Solid Apple (labeled Option on some keyboards)

Compatibility

Apple II DeskTop requires an Apple II, compatible, or emulator with at least 128k of RAM and double hi-res graphics support. This includes the following models:

A mouse is strongly recommended, although most functions are available via the keyboard. 

DeskTop uses the double hi-res display mode. On the Apple IIgs, or on systems with RGB adapters (e.g. A2 VidGA, Video 7, AppleColor RGB card, Le Chat Mauve, etc) and a compatible monitor, DeskTop will automatically switch the display to monochrome mode. On other systems, the display may appear in color and text may be blurry. See Help for some solutions.

DeskTop is a ProDOS 8 application, and works best on a mass storage device or at least an 800k floppy. Running from a 140k floppy is possible (without desk accessories) but is not recommended.

ℹ️ NOTE: Certain features are known to fail with versions of ProDOS before 1.1. Booting with a newer version is recommended.

⚠️ WARNING: DeskTop is not compatible with the experimental ProDOS 2.5. Booting with an earlier version (e.g. ProDOS 2.4.3) is required. Files already on disks with mixed-case names created with ProDOS 2.5 will be displayed correctly.

⚠️ WARNING: DeskTop is not compatible with the experimental ProDOS.FX from the A2osX project. Booting with an earlier version (e.g. ProDOS 2.0.3) is required.

Installation

Apple II DeskTop is distributed as a ZIP file containing multiple disk images:

An Apple II DeskTop installation has the following structure: 

You can install and run Apple II DeskTop in two ways:

Quick Tips

Using the DeskTop

The DeskTop is a program for managing the contents of disks, running programs, and previewing text and graphics files. It provides a graphical user interface like the macOS Finder or the Windows Explorer shell. It requires the ProDOS operating system for the Apple II. It works best with a mouse, although most functions are available via keyboard as well.

ℹ️ NOTE: It is assumed that the reader is familiar with modern desktop operating systems and using the mouse to control windows, icons and menus. Only features specific to DeskTop will be called out.

DeskTop

The DeskTop

Starting DeskTop

Execute the DESKTOP.SYSTEM file from a ProDOS selector (such as Bitsy Bye) to launch DeskTop. 

⚠️ WARNING: The ProDOS /RAM volume will be disconnected while DeskTop is running, and any contents will be lost.

ℹ️ NOTE: If a RAM expansion card such as an Apple II Memory Expansion Card or RAMWorks card and a RAM disk is present, then DeskTop will copy itself the RAM disk. This allows DeskTop to restart faster. Hold down △ or ▲ while starting to prevent this.

Once DeskTop has started, a menu bar will appear at the top of the screen. If your system has a real-time clock and appropriate ProDOS driver, a clock showing the day of the week and current time will appear in the upper right. Icons for ProDOS volumes will appear along the right side of the screen (and bottom if necessary). A Trash can icon will appear in the lower right of the screen. If you have run DeskTop before and exited with windows open, those windows will reopen as well. 

Working With Disks

Icons represent the type of volume:

DeskTop Icons

If a drive supports ejecting disks, drag the volume icon to the Trash to eject it, or use the Special > Eject Disk command or the △-E shortcut.

On some systems and some drive types, DeskTop can detect if a disk is manually ejected or replaced. On others, it is necessary to use commands. Special > Check All Drives will close all windows and check all drives for disks. Use Special > Check Drive to check only the drive holding the selected disk.

ProDOS disks can be formatted or erased using Special > Format a Disk... or Special > Erase a Disk... respectively.

ProDOS, DOS 3.3, and Pascal formatted disks can be copied using the Special > Disk Copy... command (see below).

ℹ️ NOTE: Disk Copy is a launched as a separate program. You may restart DeskTop after running this command by selecting File > Quit.

Working With Files

Double-click a volume icon to show a window containing icons for each file in the volume. Icons represent different ProDOS file types:

Folder — DIR

To see the contents of a folder, double-click the icon or use the File > Open command.

ℹ️ NOTE: To automatically close the parent window, hold down ▲ while double-clicking the folder, or hold down △ or ▲ while selecting File > Open.

Text — TXT

To preview a Text file without leaving DeskTop, double-click the icon or use the File > Open command. Use the Esc key to exit the preview. Click the Proportional button in the top right or tap the spacebar to toggle to Fixed mode, or vice versa.

Graphics — FOT/$08, PIC ($C1/$0000), files with ".A2FC",  ".A2FM", ".A2LC", and ".A2HR" suffixes, and:

To preview a Graphics file without leaving DeskTop, double-click the icon or use the File > Open command. 

ℹ️ NOTE: PIC ($C1/$0000) files can only  be previewed on the Apple IIgs.

Electric Duet music files — $D5 auxtype $D0E7

To preview a Music file without leaving DeskTop, double-click the icon or use the File > Open command. Press any key to exit the preview.

🚧 In version 1.4, Vortex Tracker PT3 files are also supported. Playback uses an external application. 🚧

BASIC programs — BAS

To run a BASIC program, double-click the icon or use the File > Open command. This requires BASIC.SYSTEM to be present on the same volume. To return to DeskTop, type BYE at the BASIC prompt.

System files (like ProDOS) — SYS

To run a System file, double-click the icon or use the File > Open command. Quitting back to ProDOS will restart DeskTop.

Application files (like BASIC.SYSTEM) — SYS with ".SYSTEM" suffix, or S16

To run an Application file, double-click the icon or use the File > Open command. Quitting back to ProDOS will restart DeskTop.

Binary — BIN

Binary files may be data or programs. If you know that a Binary file is a program, you can run it by double-clicking the icon and clicking OK in the confirmation prompt. To skip the prompt, hold down ▲ while double-clicking it, or use the File > Open command.

⚠️ WARNING: If you run a Binary file that is not a program the system will crash and you will need to reboot.

DeskTop Accessory programs -—$F1 auxtype $0641 or $8641

You can run DeskTop Accessory files by double-clicking or using the File > Open command.

AppleWorks word processing files, spreadsheets, and databases — AWP, ASP, ADB

ShrinkIt Archives - LBR/$E0 auxtype $8002, and files with ".SHK", ".BNY", or ".BXY" suffix.

ShrinkIt archives can be expanded by double-clicking or using the File > Open command.

Font - FNT/$07

To preview a Font file without leaving DeskTop, double-click the icon or use the File > Open command. Use the Esc key to exit the preview.

ProDOS command files — CMD/$F0

Apple IIgs-specific files — $5x, $Ax, $Bx, $Cx

Relocatable - REL/$FE

Sampled audio files — SND/$D8

DeskTop doesn't support these directly, but if they are distributed with a BASIS.SYSTEM file they can be played automatically by double-clicking the icon or using the File > Open command.

Animation files — ANM/$5B

DeskTop doesn't support these directly, but if they are distributed with a BASIS.SYSTEM file they can be played automatically by double-clicking the icon or using the File > Open command.

Integer BASIC programsINT

To run an Integer BASIC program, double-click the icon or use the File > Open command. This uses INTBASIC.SYSTEM in the Extras folder. DeskTop will restart when the program exits.

BASIC VariablesVAR, IVR

BASIC program variables saved using the ProDOS STORE command.

Link files - LNK/$E1

Links, also known as aliases, point at other files. You can create links using the Special > Make Alias command. Move them to easy to find locations and use them as shortcuts to launch other files or folders.

Generic (any other type)

ℹ️ NOTE: DeskTop is limited to displaying up to 127 icons at once. If there are not enough icons available to display a directory's files, DeskTop will ask you to close a window and try again.

Moving, Copying, and Deleting Files

Drag a volume icon onto a window, folder or volume icon to copy the contents of the source volume into the destination.

Select more than one icon by dragging a rectangle around the icons, or by holding △ (or Shift on the IIgs) while clicking each icon.

To move files on the same volume, drag the file icons to a window, volume icon, or folder icon. To copy files on the same volume instead, start the drag then hold down △ or ▲ while dropping.

To copy files to a different volume, drag the file icons to a window, volume icon, or folder icon. To move files to a different volume instead, start the drag then hold down △ or ▲ while dropping.

To delete files, drag the file icons to the Trash, or use the △-Delete shortcut. 

⚠️ WARNING: Deleted files can not be recovered from the Trash, unlike in modern operating systems.

You can use the File > Copy To... and File > Delete  commands instead of dragging icons. 

View Options

The View menu allows changing how the contents of a window appear: as icons, or as a textual list sorted by name, date, size or type.

Previewing Files

You can preview Text, Graphics, Music and Font files without leaving DeskTop. Either double-click the file, or select the file use the File > Open command. Use the Esc key to exit the preview.

ℹ️ NOTE: Previews are handled by desk accessories present in the PREVIEW directory. 

Text File Preview

Image File Preview

Image File Preview

Font File Preview

Music File Preview

Using BASIS.SYSTEM

ProDOS 2.4's Bitsy Bye introduces the notion of BASIS.SYSTEM as a fallback interpreter. DeskTop will try to use this when you open a file that DeskTop does not know how to open. DeskTop will look for BASIS.SYSTEM in the same directory or a parent directory and use it to open the file.

ℹ️ NOTE: ProDOS 2.4 disks can use custom files named BASIS.SYSTEM to support different file types. For example, a disk with video demos will name the player application BASIS.SYSTEM. Selecting video files from Bitsy Bye will launch it automatically. Bitsy Bye only looks in the root directory of the drive, unlike DeskTop.

Startup Menu

The Startup menu shows options for restarting the computer from any slot with a disk drive. For example, Startup > Slot 6 is the same as typing PR#6 from BASIC.

Shortcuts Menu

The Shortcuts menu allows you to edit a list of applications that appear in the menu itself. You can add up to 8 shortcuts to the menu, and you can run them from the menu or using the △-1 through △-8 keyboard shortcuts.

The shortcuts also appear in the separate Selector application (see below). You can add 16 more shortcuts which only appear in the Shortcuts > Run a Shortcut... dialog or the Selector application.

ℹ️ NOTE: Any type of file can be specified as shortcut, but SYS, S16, BAS, and BIN files make the most sense.

When you add or edit an shortcut, you can configure DeskTop to copy it to a RAM disk, either when DeskTop starts or when the entry is first used. DeskTop will copy the entire application directory including subdirectories to the RAM disk.

ℹ️ NOTE: When copying to a RAM disk, DeskTop will copy the entire directory containing the target file.

Keyboard Shortcuts

It is possible to execute most functions of Apple II DeskTop with the keyboard. Menus will display shortcuts for many actions. These shortcuts can also be used:

⚠️ WARNING: Some keyboard controls behave unpredictably on the Apple IIe if a mouse card is present but no mouse is attached.

Windows

Icons

Menu Shortcuts

ℹ️ NOTE: If a menu command does not have a shortcut listed here, you can press Esc to activate the menu and then use the arrow keys and Return to select any menu item.

ℹ️ NOTE: You can use ▲ instead of △ for most command shortcuts.

See the General Keyboard Controls section below for more.

Desk Accessories

The Apple menu contains accessories, which are small applications that can be run without leaving DeskTop. Some accessories operate on the current selection. Some are useful utilities, while others are purely for entertainment.

ℹ️ NOTE: The Apple IIgs supported different types of desk accessories: Classic Desk Accessories (CDAs) and New Desk Accessories (NDAs). NDAs run in the GS/OS Finder and are not compatible with DeskTop. CDAs run in the text-based Control Panel and can be installed when booting ProDOS-8 using P8CDA.

Some items in the Apple menu open DeskTop windows which contain more Desk Accessories. Run them by double-clicking the icons.

About This Apple II

Shows details about the system. This includes the model of Apple II, the version of ProDOS, the amount of any expanded memory, the CPU type, the contents of slots, and connected SmartPort devices.

Calculator

Shows a simple four-function calculator (add, subtract, multiply, divide). You can click buttons or press a key to enter values or perform operations. Click the e button to enter an exponent or the c button to clear. 

Calendar

Shows a month calendar, handling any year from 1901 through 2155. Click an arrow buttons press an arrow key to move forward or backward by a month. Hold △ or ▲ while clicking or pressing an arrow key to move by a year.

Find Files

Searches the open window and all child folders for files by name. You can use wildcards to search in names. The ? wildcard matches one character, and the * wildcard matches zero or more characters.

ℹ️ NOTE: The display will not update and the cursor will not move while the search is happening. You can press the Esc key to cancel a search in progress.

Key Caps

Shows a keyboard map, and indicates the keys you press. The "standard" layout will be shown for the Apple IIe or IIc. The "extended" layout will be shown for the Apple IIgs or IIc Plus. You can close the window using the keyboard by typing △-Q

Run Basic Here

Runs BASIC.SYSTEM with the PREFIX set to the path of the current window. Type BYE to return to DeskTop.

ℹ️ NOTE: BASIC.SYSTEM must be present on the same volume as DeskTop.

ProDOS BASIC Prompt

Sort Directory 

This accessory will reorder the files in the current window (volume or directory).

ℹ️ NOTE: The Sort Directory accessory will only work with local disks. It will not work with network file shares.

Change Type 

This accessory displays the file type and auxiliary type of selected file(s). If mixed types are selected the fields will be blank. Edit the fields and click OK to change the type/auxtype of the selected files. 

⚠️ WARNING: Changing the types of files such as folders and applications could render the system inoperable. Use with caution. 

🚧 This is new in version 1.4. 🚧

Control Panels

Control Panels let you change or inspect properties of DeskTop, ProDOS, or your computer.

Control Panels > Control Panel

The Control Panel lets you configure DeskTop. The options include:

ℹ️ NOTE: When this control panel closes, the updated settings are written to DESKTOP.CONFIG in the LOCAL subdirectory.

Control Panels > Date and Time

Shows the current date and time. If your system does not have a real-time clock, the ProDOS date and time can be set. This will apply to file operations until ProDOS restarts. If you reboot and launch DeskTop, it will set the ProDOS date and time again automatically. 

Click to select 12-hour or 24-hour time display, which will apply to the menu bar clock (if present) and file creation and modification dates.

ℹ️ NOTE: When this control panel closes, the updated settings are written to DESKTOP.CONFIG in the LOCAL subdirectory, and the updated date and time are written to DESKTOP.SYSTEM.

Control Panels > System Speed

Shows Normal and Fast buttons. On systems with built-in accelerators (Apple IIgs, IIc Plus, IIe Option Card for Macintosh, Laser 128EX) or some add-on accelerators (FASTChip //e, ZIP CHIP, TransWarp I, UltraWarp), this selects between the standard 1MHz speed and the accelerator's fastest speed. 

Control Panels > Options

Shows options to control DeskTop.

ℹ️ NOTE: When this control panel closes, the updated settings are written to DESKTOP.CONFIG in the LOCAL subdirectory.

Control Panels > Sounds

Shows different options for the sound that is made when alerts are shown. Click different sounds or use the arrow keys to select a sound. The Silent option will cause the menu bar to flash instead of making a sound.

ℹ️ NOTE: When this control panel closes, the updated settings are written to BELL.PROC in the LOCAL subdirectory.

Control Panels > Joystick

Lets you calibrate your joystick or paddle inputs. Shows the current joystick position (PDL0 and PDL1) and the three button input states. A second joystick position (PDL2 and PDL3) will be shown if present

ℹ️ NOTE: On systems with a combined mouse/joystick port (e.g. the Apple IIc), the desk accessory will show incorrect data when a mouse is connected.

Control Panels > International

Configure settings for how dates, times, and numbers appear within DeskTop. These usually vary from region to region around the world. You can modify the settings here to match your preferences.

Control Panels > Map

Shows a simple world map. You can click the map to see the latitude and longitude, or type a city name and click Find to locate it.

Screen Savers

Screen Savers provide full-screen visual entertainment. They must be run manually. 

Screen Savers > Flying Toasters

Clears the screen and shows a somewhat entertaining distraction. An homage to the classic After Dark screensaver by Jack Eastman. Press the Esc key or click the mouse to return to the DeskTop.

Flying Toasters

Screen Savers > Melt

Melts the screen down until only darkness remains. Press the Esc key or click the mouse to return to the DeskTop.

Melt

Screen Savers > Invert

Inverts the colors of the screen. Press the Esc key or click the mouse to return to the DeskTop.

Screen Savers > Matrix

The digital rainfall effect from The Matrix films. Press the Esc key or click the mouse to return to the DeskTop.

Implementation inspired by https://github.com/neilk/apple-ii-matrix.

Screen Savers > Rod's Pattern

From the Apple ][ "Red Book". Press the Esc key or click the mouse to return to the DeskTop.

Screen Savers > Analog Clock

Shows the current time, if your system has a real-time clock and appropriate ProDOS driver. Press the Esc key or click the mouse to return to the DeskTop.

Screen Savers > Digital Clock

Shows the current time, if your system has a real-time clock and appropriate ProDOS driver. Press the Esc key or click the mouse to return to the DeskTop.

Screen Savers > Helix

An animated line segment, similar to the antagonist in the classic arcade game Qix.

🚧 This is new in version 1.4. 🚧

Toys

These accessories are just for fun. 

Toys > Eyes

Shows a resizable window with eyes that track the movement of the mouse.

Toys > Neko

A desk toy pet. Read about the history of Neko on Wikipedia.

Toys > Puzzle

Shows a simple puzzle with 15 moving tiles. Click once to scramble the puzzle, and click the pieces to try and restore the puzzle to a solved state.

Extras

Inside the A2.Desktop folder is an Extras folder containing more accessories. You can run these from the folder, or make them appear in the Apple menu by moving them into the APPLE.MENU folder and removing other accessories to make room.

CD Remote

Lets you control CD audio playback on an AppleCD SC with speakers, attached via Apple II SCSI Card or Apple II High-Speed SCSI Card. Other devices and cards may not be supported.

Scientific Calculator

An enhanced calculator with trigonometric functions (in radians). You can click buttons or press a key to enter values or perform operations. Click the e button to enter an exponent or the c button to clear. 

Screen Dump

Dumps a screenshot to an ImageWriter II attached to a Super Serial Card in Slot 1. Works best if added to the Apple or Shortcuts menu.

Print Catalog

Dumps a listing of files in the current window (and all descendants) to a printer in Slot 1. Works best if added to the Apple or Shortcuts menu.

Benchmark

Measures the CPU speed. The speed is determined by comparison to the screen refresh rate; click the appropriate radio button for your screen type.

🚧 This is new in version 1.4. 🚧

Using Disk Copy

From DeskTop, selecting Special > Disk Copy... will launch the Disk Copy application. Disk Copy allows you to copy ProDOS, DOS 3.3, and Pascal formatted disks. 

Disk Copy

Disk Copy supports two modes:

Use the Options menu to switch modes.

You may restart DeskTop after running this command by selecting File > Quit or pressing △-Q.

Using the Selector

The Selector allows quickly launching programs via shortcuts without starting the whole DeskTop. A list of up to 24 shortcuts are shown. The Selector application is normally disabled. In DeskTop, use the Startup Options control panel to enable it. If it is enabled, then running DESKTOP.SYSTEM will launch the Selector instead of DeskTop.

The Selector

To run a shortcut, either double-click it, click it and then click OK, or use the arrow keys or type a number key (1 through 8) then press Return.

To launch the DeskTop, click the DeskTop button or press Q.

The menus offer additional commands:

Use File > Run a Program... (or press △-R) to show a file selection dialog. You can browse disks and directories to find a program to run.

ℹ️ NOTE: You can run SYS, S16, BAS, and BIN files.

The Startup menu shows options for restarting the computer from any slot known to contain a disk drive. For example, Startup > Slot 6 is equivalent to typing PR#6 from BASIC. With the keyboard, use △-1 ... △-7 to boot from a slot.

To configure the options shown in the Selector, launch DeskTop and use the options in the Shortcuts menu to add, edit, or remove shortcuts. When adding or editing a shortcut, it can be set to be copied to a RAM disk either when DeskTop is started or when the shortcut is first used, for faster startup. If so specified, the entire directory containing the application along with any subdirectories will be copied to the RAM disk at the appropriate time.

Keyboard Shortcuts

While Selector is starting, you can use keyboard shortcuts to skip showing the Selector:

Once Selector has started, you can use the arrow keys or number keys 1 through 8 to select an item and press Return to run it, or press Q to run DeskTop.

General Keyboard Controls

These shortcuts apply in DeskTop, Selector, Disk Copy, and within Desk Accessories.

⚠️ WARNING: Some keyboard controls behave unpredictably on the Apple IIe if a mouse card is present but no mouse is attached.

Menus

ℹ️ NOTE: In MAME, Arrow keys move the mouse pointer as well, which confuses DeskTop. See Help for  more info.

Text Input Fields

List Box Controls

Grid Controls

Dialog Boxes

File Dialog Boxes

Mouse Keys

ℹ️ NOTE: Keyboard shortcuts (e.g. △-O) do not work while in Mouse Keys mode.

Tips and Tricks

Customizing the Apple Menu Entries

You can use the Sort Directory DA to order the files in the APPLE.MENU folder, which controls the menu order:

You can create folders inside the DESK.ACC folder and move files inside them to organize the menu. When a folder is selected in the Apple menu, a window for the folder will be opened, showing the accessories. You can run them by double-clicking the icons.

To remove items from the Apple menu, you can do either of the following:

You can copy the SHOW.TEXT.FILE, SHOW.IMAGE.FILE and SHOW.DUET.FILE accessories from the PREVIEW directory to the DESK.ACC directory to make them appear on the Apple menu. You can then use them to preview files that do not have the correct ProDOS file types. After restarting, select a file to preview, then select the accessory from the Apple menu.

Executable files (SYS, BAS, BIN, etc) and previewable files (TXT, FOT, FNT, etc) can also be placed in the DESK.ACC folder for quick access.

Extras

The EXTRAS folder contains some additional utilities. 

If you run out of room in the Apple menu, accessories can also be added to the Shortcuts menu.

For Administrators

If the DESKTOP file is removed (or moved or renamed) from the MODULES folder, then DESKTOP.SYSTEM will launch the Selector instead, and there will be no option to launch DeskTop. This can be useful in classroom settings to limit user choices to a few selected programs.

Secrets and Mysteries