Making a dial-up Internet Connection in Mac OS 8

A couple of weeks ago, I showed how a Mac running Mac OS X 10.1 or later could connect to the internet through a mobile phone in 2002. Several of you reminisced about using dial-up connections over regular phone lines, so I thought this weekend I’d remind us all how fiddly they were, and that was before the connection dropped towards the end of that large download.

Like most landline phone calls, online charges were highest during the day, and fell after 6 o’clock in the evening. Most nights the race would be on to see who could connect to their ISP before they ran out of incoming phone lines, and you’d have to wait an hour or two before one became available. Dedicated connections over ADSL were prohibitively expensive for most users.

What it does

This enables you to dial up your internet service provider (ISP) over regular phone lines, and connect to their servers to collect email, browse the Web, etc.

What you need

Mac OS 8.6, 9.x with TCP/IP and Remote Access control panels; details of connecting to your ISP.

Potential problems

You can get almost any of the many settings wrong, and spend forever unable to connect successfully. Although support desks of some ISPs are very good at dealing with Macs, some ISPs are hopeless. Don’t be afraid to switch to an ISP who can give better support, or to ask for help.

Further info

Many Mac books outline this, but the most important information is on your ISP’s support pages. Online resources include Drew D Saur’s collection of tools and help at The Mac Orchard.


  • Set up your Modem control panel.
  • Switch the TCP/IP control panel to use PPP and your ISP’s name server, etc.
  • Keep TCP/IP active at all times if possible.
  • Enter access phone number, etc., in the Remote Access control panel.
  • Uncheck connecting whenever you start TCP/IP applications in TCP/IP’s Options.
  • Configure the Internet control panel and applications.

Setting It Up


Armed with your ISP’s instructions and connection details (phone numbers, log on sequences, etc.), open the Modem control panel and check it’s configured correctly (port/internal, modem type). Then open the TCP/IP control panel, and use the Edit/User Mode menu command to display this dialog.


Changing user mode increases the scope of the TCP/IP dialog. In most cases, switch the upper pop-up menu to PPP (the protocol you’ll use to access your ISP), and configure the next pop-up down to Using PPP Server. Some ISPs may instruct differently. Other boxes should only be completed if advised – IP addresses of name servers, for instance. Some ISPs may advise you of a ‘hosts’ file (specifying IP addresses for services such as mail and news), which can be read in by clicking the Select Hosts File button.


Click on the Options button and ensure that TCP/IP is made active. If you can spare the memory, uncheck the Load Only When Needed box, to save memory fragmentation. Using the File/Configurations menu command, name and save these TCP/IP settings so they can be recalled readily. Then quit the control panel.


You should normally access your ISP through the Remote Access control panel, which needs to be set up with the access phone number, your user name (normally the first part of your Internet domain name, allocated by your ISP), and password. Unless you fancy typing your password in every time (or have security problems such as children!), let it save your password.


Click on the Options button to set other important features of Remote Access. Some ISPs require a full script to log on each time, in which case you must obtain a copy from the ISP, and install the script here, for a command-line host. This is unnecessary for most ISPs, thankfully. Avoid checking the top option, of connecting whenever you start TCP/IP applications, as it can cause untold aggravation each time you start your Web browser, for instance. Set any other options, and click on OK.


Finally, set up your email software, browser, and other Internet applications. In recent versions of Mac OS, Apple provides the Internet control panel as an easy way to do this – details entered here, particularly for incoming and outgoing mail, should apply to all compliant applications. Then re-open Remote Access and your applications, and click on Connect.

First published in the UK print magazine ‘MacUser’ volume 17 issue 06, 2001. Although now frozen in the past, MacOrchard is still full of albeit vintage fruit.