The 10.6.3 Release is a Whale of an Update!

March 29th, 2010

So after being predicted for weeks, Apple’s Mac OS 10.6.3 update appeared Monday, sporting loads and loads of fixes stuffed into a file that contains over 719MB of stuff. But, yes, if it shows up in your System Update preference pane, it’s apt to be somewhat smaller, so don’t think anything is wrong. Supposedly Apple tailors the upgrades to the needs of a specific model.

The short list for 10.6.3 consists of the following:

  • improve the reliability and compatibility of QuickTime X
  • address compatibility issues with OpenGL-based applications
  • address an issue that causes background message colors to display incorrectly in Mail
  • resolve an issue that prevented files with the # or & characters in their names from opening in Rosetta applications
  • resolve an issue that prevented files from copying to Windows file servers
  • improve performance of Logic Pro 9 and Main Stage 2 when running in 64-bit mode
  • improve sleep and wake reliability when using Bonjour wake on demand
  • address a color issue in iMovie with HD content
  • improve printing reliability
  • resolve issues with recurring events in iCal when connected to an Exchange server
  • improve the reliability of 3rd party USB input devices
  • fix glowing, stuck, or dark pixels when viewing video from the iMac (Late 2009) built-in iSight camera
  • If you are at all curious about reading the entire list, you can consult it via this online document that describes some 49 fixer-uppers. However, don’t assume that’s everything. Over the next few weeks, as more and more power users download and install 10.6.3, they’ll come up with evidence of other changes, along with the full bill of particulars, which is the list of files actually replaced or added by the installation. What’s more, there are loads of security fixes, over 70 in fact, as documented in this message. If you haven’t migrated to Snow Leopard and you’re living with Leopard instead, you’ll be able to install a Security Update 2010-002 that contains all or most of the same security changes. In addition, there’s a version of the 10.6.3 update for the Server version of Snow Leopard.

    The regular changes are understandable and expected as something that arises in the natural course of events for any large personal computer operating system. I could say the same for the security fixes, but you just know that some of the fear merchants will use this as evidence that Mac OS X is heavily-laden with security leaks that will be exploited any day now. So beware and be afraid, be very afraid. Maybe you should look for the nearest cave.

    On the other hand, I think most of you know that, because a security hole is discovered on an Apple product doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be exploited anytime soon. Indeed, some of the changes don’t impact Mac OS X so much as the open source software that comes with it. Here, Apple gets consistently attacked by some members of the tech media because it doesn’t react quickly enough to such issues. Since Apple isn’t terribly forthcoming about such matters, though, I suppose we can just keep guessing.

    In any case, installing the update you need ought to be a pretty simple process. If Software Update doesn’t launch and present it to you, run it manually from System Preferences and be prepared to click Restart when the installation is finished. I fully expect that the vast, vast majority of Mac users can do that and have everything work just fine.

    On the other hand, Mac troubleshooting sites will detail all sorts of religious rituals that you should engage in first to ensure a successful update. It starts with doing a full backup — and I can go along with that — but adds lesser preventive maintenance measures that have never demonstrated much of any value. The most consistent suggestion is to use the Repair Disk Permissions feature from Disk Utility before and after the update. While it’s perfectly true that permissions-related issues might cause trouble with certain applications and documentfiles, it doesn’t happen often enough to warrant this time-waster.

    When it comes to permissions issues, I have had just one since I began to work with Mac OS X starting with the Public Beta in September 2000. It happened a few months ago, and the sole symptom was the inability to launch a newly installed copy of Parallels Desktop 5. Yes, I tried running Repair Disk Permissions, but that didn’t change anything. In the end, I had to use a command line process in Terminal suggested by Parallels support, which fixed permissions on a single file that Disk Utility wouldn’t have touched in the normal course of events. What’s more, I don’t know any Mac users among my small circle of friends and acquaintances who have had any difficulties involving incorrect file permissions, though I’m sure some of you might have on a rare occasion or two.

    My best advice is just to hold off installing 1o.6.3 for a few days to make sure there are no reports of serious defects. Someone, somewhere will always report a problem, but if the general trend is highly favorable, do your backup, run the installation and don’t fret. It should work out fine. In the rare situations where something isn’t working properly, seek out the Combo updater from Apple’s support site.

    And, yes, I installed 10.6.3 on Day One and it’s working just fine, thank you. Then again, I never encountered any of the problems that it fixes.

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    8 Responses to “The 10.6.3 Release is a Whale of an Update!”

    1. Andrew says:

      Installed 10.6.3 (using software update) on a MacBook Pro (June 09), a MacBook (June 09), a MacBook Air (Oct 08), a Mac Mini (late 08), an iMac (late 08), a MacBook (late 07) and a MacBook (Oct 08), none had even a single issue. I could’ve used the combo updater and done it with a single download, but was too lazy and ran software update on each of them using Remote Desktop 3.

      No issues whatsoever.

      • WellTest says:

        I no longer believe in the advice of “wait a few days to see if there are reports of serious installation issues before doing your own install.”

        Why? The reason is because there are beta testers for all of Apple’s software and I personally know people who are beta testers who have tested versions of OS X in numerous builds before a public release is made. It’s not as if the first time a public build is made that that is the first time that someone outside of Apple is using it. In fact, prior to the public release, there have been many, many builds released to people outside of Apple (i.e., beta testers) but not to the general public.

        The advice of “wait a few days” no longer makes sense to me given that a specific portion of the public actually has been running various build versions INCLUDING what is now the public release version (i.e., same build number) prior to it being made publicly released.

    2. Robert Pritchett says:

      I love it when a plan comes together, don’t you? Kudos to Apple Corporation for doing such a fine job. So far, so good. I too had a bad experience once with an update that blew away my apps. But I was lazy this time and just let it run its course. Worked beautifully! Didn’t think twice about doing the update. I wish it was so painless with MS Windows installs (Snarky remark).

      For perspective, let’s say you are a large, multibillion-dollar government organization that will not move off of XP Pro. Could you see such an organization that decided if they were using Macs, not to get past OS 9? And be large enough to force Apple not to end-of-life it? They did it to MS.

      Maybe when the market value of Apple exceeds that of MS, things will change (any day now). Apple Corporation certainly gets my vote for best OS and “plays nice” support. This release certainly enhances that prospect for “hope and change” for me anyway.

    3. DaveD says:

      Alright! Some good news about this massive update. Glad to see Apple appeared to take the time to get the update ready for prime time. I certainly feel that there is no need to rush an update at this stage of Mac OS X.

      The third update is usually the time for me to do a Mac OS X upgrade. However, I find Leopard to be very stable and don’t have the urgency to move on to Snow Leopard (SL). I do have SL on an external hard drive just for test driving.

      Still waiting for new MacBook Pros with SL and Intel Core i-something.

    4. dfs says:

      For most users, I suspect the most interesting innovation in this update is something not on Apple’s official list, improvements to the OS X 3D graphics engine. According to the article at, this update also sports “many changes to graphics, such as the CoreGraphics framework.” On the other hand, it lacks one feature many Mac users are particularly eager to see – a simple, non-technical way to boot the Mac in 64-bit mode.

    5. rwahrens says:

      I’ve got a MacBook, Core Duo, with 2 gigs of RAM, running Snow Leopard. A most stable OS, I removed the time Machine backup disk, a firewire external, and ran Software update. No issues at all. It ran and updated, rebooted and all within a half hour easily.

      I agree with Gene, no repair permissions is required. If one is really busy on a disk, I could see running Disk Utility and making sure that the disk has no errors on it, but see no reason to repair permissions at all. the last two updates before this, I only made sure that TM had an up-to-date backup, then ran the update.

      SL has been very stable, with no issues at all.

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