Snow Leopard 10.6.3 Update Woes

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In the 10 or so years I’ve been using Macs I can’t remember an Apple software update ever adversely affecting one of the many I’ve owned. That is until the recent 10.6.3 update.

Being a bit of a software-update junkie I installed the standalone 10.6.3 update on my late-2007 24″ iMac within hours of its release. Perhaps I should have heeded the calls of those more level-headed users and waited.

Among the problems I encountered were:

  • Unable to login with any user account 9 times out of 10 despite the password being accepted.
  • On the rare occasions I was able to login, the keyboard was often unresponsive.
  • Dock icons disappeared when clicked.
  • Applications would not quit.
  • The message The application Finder.app can't be opened. -10810 appearing at which point the system became completely unresponsive and I had no choice other than a hard reboot.

OK. So something went awry with update. The combo update should fix that. Actually, no. The problems still persisted.

The only information I could find was this long-running, lengthy thread on Apple Discussions. Interestingly, these problems were first reported back in September 2009 soon after Snow Leopard was first released and many of the more recent replies hoped that 10.6.3 would fix the issue. Ironically, my problems only appeared after having applied said update.

The thread suggests many possible causes including Time Machine, Spotlight or faulty external drives but offers no real definitive solution. One possible fix was to exclude the Time Machine drive from being indexed by Spotlight. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try this as my iMac had been rendered virtually useless.

So, as my problems appeared system-wide rather than limited to individual user accounts I was left with no alternative other than to re-install the OS. I’ve since applied the 10.6.3 combo update on the clean install and excluded my Time Machine drive from Spotlight. So far, so good.

I’ve yet to apply the update to my MacBook, but before I do I’ll be cloning the boot drive!

About the author

A native Brit exiled in Japan, Steve spends too much of his time struggling with the Japanese language, dreaming of fish & chips and writing the occasional blog post he hopes others will find helpful.

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