Mac OS X 10.5.6: Some undocumented fixes

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
December 16th, 2008 • 12:10 pm

I’ve been beta-testing Mac OS X 10.5.6 for a while under the AppleSeed program, and now that it’s officially out, I am pleased to report that it addresses a number of issues that I had noted in previous blog items, even though these fixes are not listed in the Release Notes.

The most important one is possibly the awful bug with Spotlight search results windows in the Finder. As noted in previous blog posts, this was a very destructive bug that would randomly rename files behind the user’s back, with devastating consequences.

I said “possibly” in the paragraph above, but I am not entirely sure that the problem is completely fixed yet. Given that it was always hard (but not that hard) to reproduce reliably, I will have to keep using Spotlight in Mac OS X 10.5.6 for a while before I am entirely sure that the problem no longer happens. But right now, if I bring up a list of Spotlight search results in a Finder window, then select one of the results, then double-click on it to open it, the double-clicking no longer causes the file’s name to become editable in the background (after the document has been opened in a new window in the foreground). And consequently, it appears that the random file renaming no longer occurs.

Insert huge sigh of relief here as far as I am concerned. This was a truly nasty bug, because it would randomly change the name of a file to the name of a completely different (also listed in the same results list), without warning. So you could, for example, end up with a Pages file whose name had been changed to the name of a totally unrelated PDF file located somewhere else on your hard drive. And there was no way to tell that the name change had happened—except that, much later, when you would try to open that file that was apparently a PDF file, Preview would tell you that it was not a PDF file and you would have no idea what file it used to be. Eek.

I truly hope that the issue is finally fixed for good. At some point I was so desperate about this bug not getting fixed in spite of my multiple bug reports that I actually sent an e-mail to Steve Jobs about it. I never got a reply, of course, but two days later, out of the blue, I received a new e-mail from the AppleSeed folks about my existing bug report for this bug, using the same boilerplate response about it being a “known issue” and being under investigation. I had already received such an e-mail from them several months before, so I figured that maybe it was their way of telling me that they hadn’t forgotten about it and were working on fixing it.

And lo and behold, a couple of months later, it is (or seems to be) fixed. It still took far too long (more than a year!) in my opinion to get a fix for such a destructive bug, and I don’t think that I should have had to send an e-mail to the C.E.O. in order to bring the bug back to the attention of the engineers (if that is indeed what happened). Of course I have no way to ascertain that my e-mail did indeed have some impact here, but the bottom-line here is that the bug appears to be fixed.

Another rather annoying but much less destructive bug has been fixed in Mail, where replying to a message that has been coloured by a rule no longer causes the original message to lose its colour. Again, it took more than a year for the bug to be fixed, but I suppose that it was a “minor” thing and never high in the list of priorities. At least it got fixed.

Not listed in the release notes also are a number of audio-related fixes in this release. This includes a fix for the bug that would cause Mail to play its sound effects through the main audio output channel instead of the one for alerts and sound effects.

Frustratingly, the fix is only partial. Mail now plays the Mail sound effects through the alerts and sound effects channel, but the volume level for these Mail sound effects is not controlled by the volume slider for the alerts and sound effects channel (in System Preferences). The only way to control the volume level of the Mail sound effects is using the main volume slider, which has absolutely nothing to do with it since it’s supposed to control the main output level.

Of course, I reported this new bug in the fix for the previous bug as soon as I noticed it in early builds of Mac OS X 10.5.6, but obviously the message has not got through or was not deemed important, since the volume level bug is still there in the final release.

Sadly, there is still no fix for the bug that causes Mail to play its rule-related sound effects in a totally unpredictable fashion. Sometimes it plays the right ones, sometimes it plays the right ones plus extra ones that have nothing to do with the incoming mail, etc. No changed here.

There are, of course, a number of other bug fixes in Mac OS X 10.5.6, but since I reported on the various bugs listed above earlier on on Betalogue, I figured it would make sense to write a post focusing on these particular bug fixes (or partial bug fixes) in Mac OS X 10.5.6.

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