Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard): Application launching and file opening bugs

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
October 13th, 2009 • 9:27 am

I must say I am quite disappointed with the bugginess of Snow Leopard. I am not talking about small, niggling bugs here. Snow Leopard has its share of them, like any other significant OS upgrade.

What I am talking about is a series of more significant bugs that severely impact usability.

One has to do with what happens when you try to open a bunch of files at once. It happens quite often—far too often for anyone’s taste—that, when you select several files in the Finder and double-click on the selection or hit command-O, instead of opening all the files in their parent application(s), the Finder only opens some of them, and then completely ignores the rest of the selection.

When this happens, it apparently affects all applications, not just Apple’s own. (I am also not referring to what happens in Preview when you open a bunch of PDF documents. Here, the behaviour is a feature, not a bug: Preview now opens all the files in the same window, and makes them available as thumbnails in the sidebar. This is new, but is a normal behaviour. What I am talking about here is a bug that really causes some files not to open at all, whether it’s in Preview or another Apple or third-party application.)

Another bug occurs somewhat less frequently, but is even more crippling: When you double-click on a file in the Finder to open it in its parent application, Mac OS X switches to the parent application, but fails to open the file in question. It’s immensely frustrating and, once it’s started happening, there is nothing you can do to fix it, short of a restart, as far as I can tell. The only way to open files once this starts happening is to switch to the parent application, bring up the “Open…” dialog box, browse to the location where the target is, and open it that way. Needless to say, even with a third-party navigation aid such as Default Folder X, it’s mightily frustrating.

Finally, twice in the past week now I have experienced a very old Mac OS X bug that I thought was gone for good: All of a sudden, when I try launching an application, the application’s Dock icon starts bouncing endlessly in the Dock and the application never fully launches. Instead, eventually (after a few minutes of endless bouncing), the bouncing stops, but the application icon stays there without the status light indicating that it’s open, and right-clicking on it results in an “Application not responding” message. You can force-quit and try again, but it won’t work any better the second time.

And once this starts happening, if you want to get anything accomplished with your Mac, you really have no choice but to restart the entire machine.

It is hard to believe that Snow Leopard comes with such a crop of crippling, usability-wrecking bugs, especially since it was supposed to be a bug-fixing release.

And of course, since these bugs seem to occur randomly, it’s pretty much impossible to provide Apple with steps to reproduce them. But it does not mean that they don’t exist, and that they are not crippling! It is indeed pretty much impossible to believe that there could be something in my own particular setup that would be causing this. (And I have also seen enough on-line reports that corroborate what I am experiencing.) Unfortunately, the only “solution” with this type of bugs is to wait until Apple’s engineers notice the bugs themselves and actually start seriously working on fixing them.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if all these bugs were somehow related to each other, and part of the revamp of “launch services” in Snow Leopard, which has generated its fair share of controversy, especially with the disappearance of Mac OS X’s support for creator codes.

This is of course not enough for me to want to go through the grief of reverting to Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard). But it is still a very disappointing turn of events, and I for one cannot wait for Apple to take all these problems really seriously and fix them once and for all.

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