How-To: Get around Mac OS X 10.6.3 update issues

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Date: Wednesday, March 31st, 2010, 05:10
Category: How-To, Software


The Mac OS X 10.6.3 update is out in its Software Update, Delta and Combo forms and a number of users (including the mighty Hawk of Applegeeks) have cited problems installing the update. In many cases, the user apparently has to sit forever with the spinning color wheel, or go blank to a blue, black, or gray screen and require a forced restart.

Most hangs at installation usually happen when the system is running more maintenance-based routines or performing commands like restarting, so the system will not necessarily be hurt; however, there is always the chance that files can get corrupted by interrupting the installation process.

With that in mind, the cool cats at CNET have offered the following update tips:

If your computer hangs during installation, try the following steps:

Give it time:
Many times the system will sit at a blue or black screen for a while, so be sure to give it ample time before concluding the system is hung up. Let it sit there for about half an hour to see if it resolves the hang and continues the installation process properly.

Hard-reset only if the system is not doing anything:
If the system does not respond after waiting, only hard-reset it if the hard drive is not working. Put your ear to the case of the system to hear if the drive is working. If so, wait until you cannot hear the drive chattering away and then press and hold the power button until the system shuts off.

Immediately boot to safe mode:
Once the system has been powered down, boot it up and immediately press the Shift key to go to Safe Mode. This will run some diagnostics scripts at boot-up, and also load the OS in a minimal way to prevent any interference. When booted, run Disk Utility’s permissions fix and hard-drive verification routines, as well as run any maintenance utilities you may have for cleaning the system’s temporary files (caches, etc.).

Reapply the combo updater:
Even if the system seems to be working fine, after any fault in the installation it is always best to re-run the installation using the “Combo” updater. This will ensure that all installed files are in working order, and prevent any currently unused but corrupt files from causing problems later on. We recommend you download the Combo updater and run it when booted in Safe Mode.

Check permissions after installation:
Once you have completed the installation with the Combo updater, use Disk Utility to run a full permissions fix on the hard drive. This will ensure that all updated files are properly accessible by the system, and prevent slowdowns and hangs that could result if the system cannot access these files.

Start over from backup:
If the installation is still not working properly, even after reapplying the Combo updater, then it is highly recommended you start over. This can be done by reverting to a backup you made before applying the 10.6.3 update (Time Machine or a cloned drive), or by performing a reinstall of the OS from the Snow Leopard DVD. When you have reverted to the backup, be sure to fully prepare your system for the update by following the procedures suggested in this article.

Full reinstall:
Reverting to a backup is the preferred method, since it will keep all of your settings and program installations intact; however, some people may not have this in which case a reinstallation may be necessary. Snow Leopard will perform an archive and install, which will preserve user data and installed applications, so reinstalling should keep most settings intact.

If you’ve installed Mac OS X 10.6.3, feel free to hurl your two cents in as to how the update’s going and what’s gone right or wrong for you.

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16 Responses to “How-To: Get around Mac OS X 10.6.3 update issues”

  1. As with many laptop users who employ an external monitor, 10.6.3 caused mine to disappear.
    After a day of troubleshooting with no success, I have downgraded to 10.6.2 (still no picnic on a MBP/2.66/4GB)

  2. worked just fine here on my new mac mini 😉

  3. I waited for a spinning ball to go away, but it took at least 10 mins before I ran out of patience and rebooted. After which my Finder would load, and I would have an empty desktop and no way to do anything. Rebooting again would not fix the problem. Trying Safe Mode now. ANNOYING.

  4. I have gone through the download process. I am prompted to restart which I do. During restart I get an unexpected error message?

  5. I installed the update yesterday on my MacBook and it failed during installation (gave out an error message, I clicked on OK, but than the system hang for 30min). After a hard-reset the system doesn't even start. I tried Safe Boot, but that also hangs during startup (waited 45 min)… I guess I have to reinstall the complete system :/

  6. I've got a Core Duo MacBook running 10.6.2 with 2 gigs of RAM. Time Machine as a backup.

    Ensured that the TM backup had run and was viable, then ejected that drive and unplugged it. Then I ran Software Update. All went fine, no hiccups, no hangs. Finished in less than a half hour.

  7. MacBook Pro, sat with spinning wheel for an hour
    Same thing in safe mode
    Tried “verbose” boot and saw it hang on cisco vpn
    Booted single user, ran /usr/local/bin/vpn_uninstall (had to find that hint)
    Still same results, I am now letting it spin on a boot to safe mode and see if it comes up
    I have a backup if it comes to that

  8. About two hours of waiting for download and install of OS 10.6.3. When I start Mail (4.2) I get a message saying it will not work with this operating system. This message hangs and I have to use a force quit to get out of Mail. Entourage mail works just fine with this OS update.

  9. No such problems at all here. I'm new to the Mac OS (iMac27 3.06Ghz Dual Core) and this was my first major upgrade. I was apprehensive bit it absolutely sailed through the process. No hanging, no colour wheel, no blue or black screens. Satisfaction delivered here.

  10. 2009 2.0Ghz Core2Duo/Nvidia Mac Mini – no issues here

  11. Are you annoyed at the machine or at your lack of patience? Try the latter.

  12. After updating my Mac Book Air, all the iWork applications crash on startup and Preview has scrambled colors. Everything else seems to work okay, though sluggishly.

  13. Note that this update will also remove the blood from your poor snow leopard's mouth, so make sure you do a Time Machine backup first so you can restore your old desktop background if you want to.

    Details here:

  14. Installation went fine. Unfortunately my new favorite Chrome browser doesn't scroll thru bookmarks at all. Open a bookmarks folder, bookmarks in a strange small font and you can't scroll to or even see those that are normally further down a list. Tried re-starting Chrome but no deal. Safari bookmarks folders look fine and scroll normally.

  15. The 10.6.3 update (via Software Update) has killed Entourage's (2008) Database Daemon, and I can't get it running for love or money. I may have to revert to a backup. Frustrating!

  16. New update from Apple (Mac OS X 10.6.3 v1.1) just released: