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Apple’s legendary Clarus the dogcow returns in macOS Ventura

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Forget Stage Manager, forget Live Captions — from now on macOS Ventura will be famous for bringing back Clarus the Dogcow to its rightful place.

The dogcow is not Susan Kare‘s finest hour, except that possibly it is. For across the thousands of superb designs Kare has made for Mac, Windows and more, there was a Cairo dingbats font, with Clarus.

Called a dogcow because it’s so poorly drawn that it’s impossible to tell whether it is meant to be a cow or a dog, this one symbol rose above its origins. You do have to have been a Mac user for a very, very long time for it to mean anything to you at all.

But if you are, you know this was Apple’s clever way of making sure you knew in advance what you were going to be printing. Sat there in the page setup dialog, Clarus and the icon of paper it sat in, would show you whether you were printing portrait or landscape.

Clarus the dogcow lost its job in page setup sometime in the late 1990s. But now, as of 2022, if you press Command-Shift-P in certain applications, you get Clarus back.

It isn’t every app. Ones such as Final Draft that implement their own page or document layout dialog don’t have it, but otherwise most text editors do.

And in each one it appears, Clarus is back showing you whether your page is portrait or landscape. It also grows or shrinks if you use Page Setup’s scaling feature.

The wilderness years

Between Clarus’s retirement sometime after Steve Jobs returned to Apple, and its return, life has been pretty quiet. Yet if Clarus couldn’t get a job in Page Setup for decades, it could make personal appearances.

There were sightings of the dogcow in promotional images, in early Apple virtual reality — and earlier in 2022, in an iPhone easter egg.

Some people had it as a tatoo, too. Such as Stephen Hacket, whose 512pixels site was among the first to spot Clarus’s welcome return to work.



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