• The Mac OS 10.4.6 Report: The Fixes Keep on Coming

    April 8th, 2006

    There are lots of tiny fixes, but nothing earth-shattering to report in the latest Tiger update that appeared in Software Update Monday afternoon. And, no, this isn’t the hoped for 30th anniversary surprise from Apple. But as usual, the enhancements may or may not apply to you, and even if they seem to, you’ll want to explore the situation more carefully to confirm it. First take a gander at the basics of what’s changed in the update:

    – login and authentication in a variety of network environments
    – file access and byte range locking with AFP file sharing
    – network access when using proxy server automatic configuration files
    – connecting to Cisco VPN servers using IP/Sec
    – using Bluetooth wireless devices
    – searching iWork and Microsoft Office documents with Spotlight
    – saving Word documents automatically when using a network home directory
    – creating Automator workflows for iPhoto 6
    – synchronizing contacts and calendars to .Mac and mobile phones
    – mounting and unmounting iDisk volumes
    – compatibility with third party applications and devices
    – previous standalone security updates

    It should come as no surprise that the full list, such as it is, is far more detailed, as you find out when you check out Apple’s Knowledge Base document on the subject. Programmers tell me there’s a lot more under-the-hood, but most of it wouldn’t make much sense beyond their tiny corner of the world. For the rest of us, there are some things that are worth noting, such as the fact that Power Macs will restart twice after this update is installed. No, there’s nothing wrong with your computer, and Apple doesn’t explain why this must be so. This peculiar phenomenon will not be repeated after the initial installation, by the way, and it won’t happen with an Intel-based Mac, or at least not the iMac I updated.

    One notable enhancement is the elimination of that confusing message, “We are using special permissions for,” in Disk Utility when you use the Repair Disk Permissions feature. No doubt that will reduce the number of support calls from Mac users who are wondering what it’s all about.

    One notable change addresses a Microsoft Word 2004 message that “Word cannot complete the operation because too many files are open,” when you are autosaving a document across a network. Another Word-related fix improves Spotlight’s ability to search for older Word documents. This would seem to indicate that Apple worked with Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit on some elements of 10.4.6.

    In any case, the usual installation cautions apply. Don’t do anything in an application while the updater is doing its thing, even though seems will seem to proceed efficiently regardless. If you’ve installed any third party system enhancements, you might want to uninstall them prior to running the update, and reinstall after. As usual, try to keep your backups current. If you’re not a backup type of person, a system update might be good reason to change your ways. I also run Repair Disk Permissions after the process is complete, although it seldom seems to do much.

    But the most important recommendation I can make is to try to put off running the update, unless it fixes something critical to your work. It will take a few days before the early adopters have their say about whether there are any serious problems, and you aren’t forced to take the updates in Software Update, even if it’s configured to check every single day. No reason to be impatient.

    If you do run into trouble, check Apple’s site for the Combo updater, which contains all the changes since the initial release of Mac OS X Tiger. It will be a whopping file of course, weighing in at 140MB for the PowerPC version and 191MB for MacIntels, but the installation will sometimes eradicate erratic behavior.

    In case you are about to ask, yes, I am one of those early adopters. My Power Mac G5 Quad and the Intel-based 20-inch iMac that Apple sent me for review both received the update. Both work perfectly, thank you. But that always seems to happen for me, even when an update delivers a few more problems than it fixes, so I still urge caution.

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