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 formally debuted. MultiFinder was based on and preceded by Andy Hertzfeld's Switcher utility, which was acquired by Apple to provide rudimentary multitasking to early Macs with sufficient memory.
- 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!
- Dates in Mac history by Lawrence I. Charters and Dr. Kathleen G. Charters, KLJCharters Blog. 2013-10-30.
- System 4.2 / Finder 6.0 (System Software Update 5.0), The Mac 512. Archived 2016-12-02.
- Macintosh: System Software Version History at Apple Support (2012-02-19)