OS X "Mountain Lion"

Version 10.8

Recommended for all OS X "Mountain Lion" users with limited RAM environments or those who wish to protect their privacy

Due to the difficulty in this OS X version to clear the inactive RAM after quitting memory-hungry applications resulting in poor performance issues on your Macintosh computer (especially if you have a traditional hard disk with limited RAM), you are strongly advised to download and run a manual or automatic (preferred) RAM memory purging utility. Available for OS X are the following tools:

  1. Boost&Memory 1.1.0 costs US$4.99.
  2. Dr. Cleaner Free and is the only app to optimise memory when an app is quit.
  3. FreeMemory 1.8.4 is free only from the App Store.
  4. iFreeMem 3.5 costs £10.
  5. MacPurge 1.2.2 is free.
  6. Memory Clean 5.0 is one of the better apps and is totally free (but only from the App Store).
  7. Memory Diaz 1.0.2 from the same makers of FreeMemory comes this app, which is free only from the App Store.
  8. MemoryOptimizer 3.2.0 is free (and discontinued).
  9. MemoryTamer 1.2.1 costs US$2.49 from the App Store.
  10. Purge 1.0 is free.
  11. purgeRAM 1.1 is a free AppleScript app from SUNRISE ()requires administrator privileges to run).
  12. RAM Cleaning 1.0 is free and does exactly the same thing as the SUNRISE version..

The situation can be best summed up this way by a MacUpdate user:

[Memory cleaning apps] works as intended. The bigger issue is how Apple chooses to allocate memory. I have 24 GB of memory in my i7 iMac. Safari alone will use a big chunk of it. No other browser eats memory like Safari. This has been true since Safari's intro. Fortunately I have an SSD drive on the iMac, so there is no loss of performance when memory becomes lean.

But it's a different experience on my MacBook Pro with a standard 7200 drive. There, even though I have 16 GB of memory, beach balls when memory gets low. I don't mind closing apps. However, it's more the closed apps retained in memory that's the problem. Here, Memory Clean does what Apple doesn't - retrieves this otherwise unavailable memory.

NOTE 1

Beware of the fact that some commercial apps will constantly call home to check whether they are registered. This is more of a concern as this can be an opportunity to send more information about your computer, who you are, where you are located, and the apps you have used, which kind of defeats the purpose of memory cleaning and protecting your privacy. It is also possible such apps could have been developed by programmers working for Apple, Inc. So ignore those shareware/commercial apps like the plague.

NOTE 2

Any automatic RAM clearing tool must work on the basis of a user either specifying an inactive memory threshold below which the clearing of the memory is run, and/or setting a timer for when the apps will run their memory clearing process. The ability to detect the quitting of non-system-related applications to enable a software programmer to automatically run a memory clearing app is apparently not achievable according to the way the OS X has been designed by Apple. So all memory clearing apps will remain imperfect. However, to Apple, this may be all that is needed for the company to grab the data from RAM should there be a time delay.

NOTE 3

The SUNRISE manual RAM clearing solution can be used in OS X "Snow Leopard" or earlier versions if you have Developer Tools and Xcode installed on your computer.

NOTE 4

There is still a general misconception about the purpose of memory clearing/cleaning tools and whether there is any benefit. There are, in fact, two main benefits:

  1. It is for people with limited RAM environments where the inability of the latest OS X to release the memory causes a reduction in performance of their Macs. The problem is worse for people who still use the traditional magnetic hard drives where OS X regularly swaps contents in RAM with cache files on the hard drive when you perform various tasks in your applications.
  2. Where users do have adequate RAM, you may not notice a performance drop because OS X is able to utlise more RAM to run your applications at reasonable speed. However, memory clearing/cleaning is still useful for a number of these users because the latest OS X Mavericks and Yosemite now wants to retain enough data about the applications you have launched and used in the RAM irrespective of whether those application have been quit. This was not the case in previous OS X versions except for the fact that the Preview.app was a prelude to this feature as Apple tested the idea with users. More specifically, you may have noticed in your 20 years of Mac experience how Preview.app does not like to let go of the files that you last opened and later closed but for some reason you cannot trash the files. When you look at the Preview icon in the Dock, you suddenly see no dot next to the icon as if suggesting it has quit. It hasn't. You have to click on the icon, the dot appears very quickly and then you quit Preview properly. Then the file can be trashed. All this is part of Apple's attempt to see what happens if data about the files you thought was closed can be kept in RAM without your awareness. If so, Apple can go the next step of sending the data through from RAM to its servers while you are online using the latest OS X. So essentially, memory clearing/cleaning is also about protecting your privacy.

However, if you are not terribly concerned about sharing your privacy with Apple and you have plenty of RAM, memory clearing/cleaning apps on the whole have no real benefit.

About version 10.8

Apple, Inc. has bolted from the start line in the IT race for high-tech supremacy and high profits showing its remarkable eagerness to seed developers with an early beta release of the next OS X upgrade known as OS X "Mountain Lion" 10.8. Whilst many users have been thinking long and hard about whether OS X 10.7 in its current iteration (i.e. 10.7.3) is more a beta preview than a full public release, one must assume Apple is trying to get a head start with OS X 10.8 by getting as much input as possible from developers on how to make the upcoming version even better.

Probably a good idea given what the public knows about OS X 10.7. As one user said:

"10.8?!?!? When 10.7 is not even mature at this point??!!" (MacUpdate: Apple OS X Mountain Lion 10.8. 16 February 2012.)

As for the name given to the new OS X, it suggests Steve Job's has provided a blueprint for the next 5 to 10 years of where Apple should go. Until someone is comfortable enough to break the plan and really be different for the company, this cat naming convention will probably stick around for a little while longer.

The same is true of the starry theme for the desktop background. Users will be greeted with what looks a bit like the Andromeda galaxy. Although it could easily be a made-up 3D image. Hard to tell at this stage. Still it looks alright. Of course, we hope a new desktop background is not the only thing to have changed to warrant an upgrade.

Indeed, early indications from developers are suggesting a number of things can be liked about the new version, although it still remains unclear whether it has solved a number of the more annoying or inflexible new features added to 10.7. Naturally enough, more will be revealed in the months to come as all products do at some point in time. Whatever is eventually revealed, hopefully not the bugs as well. Less revealing of the bugs is preferable in any new software product.

How about more flexibility in OS X by allowing users to use it in the way they want to, rather than how Apple wants users to use it? A very useful feature in anyone's language.

It one wanted to sum up the new features of OS X 10.8, you could say that whilst OS X 10.7 introduced the new fancy graphic features of iPads and iPhones to the desktop and laptop environment, OS X 10.8 will go the full hog by bringing onboard virtually all the best Apple features and applications running on the latest iOS for iPads and iPhones. Basically you will have a slightly oversized and bulky looking iPad and/or iPhone on your Mac laptop, but pay a little extra for the keyboard, and possibly minus the telephone calling option (although you can still do that on Skype). A number of tools such as iCal may change their names to be in keeping with how the iPad and iPhone apps look. Others will just get a fresh and more integrated look. As CNET stated:

"More than anything this release is another move by Apple to make iPhone and iPad users feel at home on a Mac, something that's become increasingly important with those devices now able to exist on their own, without the help of iTunes." (Lowensohn, Josh. Meet Apple's Mac OS X 'Mountain Lion': CNET. 17 February 2012.)

Like SUNRISE Contacts 2012 and some other third-party solutions, Apple's own Mail, Calendar and Address Book applications will merge into one single application for easier access to all functions. As for the ability of Apple to quietly extract your contact details and send them to Apple servers when registering the Apple OS and computer or when running iTunes and other Apple services (e.g. the iCloud), it remains a standard feature for all to enjoy. SUNRISE Contacts 2012, on the other hand, is prepared for this situation and have made sure you never have to worry about your personal details being sent to a third-party without your consent, and should be the same for all other solutions

Nevertheless, such independent contacts solutions from third-party developers is now under threat by Apple's dominance in this field. As we write this, Apple is trying hard to find ways to stop people purchasing and using alternative contacts software.

How? Simple. If the company can somehow ensure its own applications are free with the OS, or lower cost (e.g. Bento 4) and easy enough to use, why would users need to use other software?

As a case in point, third-party developers using FileMaker Pro Advanced 12 have been asked as of 10 July 2012 to participate in a survey (hosted by Zoomerang) to provide feedback on the Apple product. What most people don't realise is that the survey is designed to focus almost entirely on one key feature of the advanced edition: the ability to create runtime solutions from ready-made databases developed with the Apple software. With the exception of a couple of questions on what developers like to see displayed in the Database Design Report feature, which clearly doesn't need improving since all the information developers need to find in terms of errors and inconsistencies in their databases is already displayed in the report, the question is, why focus on the runtime feature? Surely Apple could have asked heaps of questions about other aspects of the FileMaker Pro software such as removing the memory leaks during the development phase of a database, more graphic designing features and options to allow it to do the things we see in Bento 4, and more time-saving copy/paste abilities for custom menus and so on. But the company won't. Well, certainly not while Apple is selling the ready-made database system known as Bento 4. Apple is not silly. The focus on the runtime feature of FileMaker Pro Advanced 12 in the current survey and nothing else can only mean one thing: Apple is getting ready to remove the runtime feature by hopefully gathering enough evidence from the survey to claim the feature is not used by enough third-party developers and therefore shouldn't be supported by Apple. Then it is quite possible FileMaker Pro Advanced 13 will not exist, except for the standard FileMaker Pro. And then the minimum people have to pay for an independent FileMaker database to run on an Apple computer will be USD$300 (for FileMaker Pro) and the cost of the database from the developer. When compared to Bento 4 and Apple's own free contacts and email applications under OSX, why would users pay more?

Apple knows there is a clear conflict of interest.

Initially, when Apple bought FileMaker Pro from Claris Corporation, the intention was probably good with the desire to offer the best software solution possible to its Apple customers. However, now, with new ways of gathering people's personal details and to have them sent to the Apple servers, Apple needs people to use its own contacts software on OSX, or else use Bento 4. FileMaker Pro is too flexible to expect developers to create such privacy-infringing contacts software. But the only way to sway people to use the free OSX Apple contacts software or Bento 4, it has to price every other contacts software developed on FileMaker Pro high enough that the public will not purchase it (only corporations and businesses may purchase these tools). To achieve this, Apple has to be careful not to remove the runtime feature straightaway for fear of being discovered as being "anti-competitive". It is better to get the evidence from a survey first so the company can appear to justify its own decisions.

How do we stop Apple from getting its way? Every FileMaker Pro Advanced developer will have to show the runtime feature is important in the survey. Or else the U.S. government will have to force Apple to sell FileMaker Pro and for someone with enough money to buy the original FileMaker Pro source code off Apple. The final solution is, of course, for developers to learn visual basic programming to create a truly independent contacts database solution (using Xcode and other development tools).

What else can we learn from the upcoming OSX?

Beyond that, Apple will be heavily pushing users to make full use of the iCloud technology. After spending billions of dollars on a new server, this is something the company will not allow to go to waste. It means, much more of the data you store in Apple applications such as iCal (expected to be renamed Calendar), iChat (expected to be renamed Messages), Address Book (expected to be renamed Contacts) and other tools will get stored on the iCloud to permit you to automatically sync the data with your iPhones and iPads (and hence the authorities and Apple can learn a lot more about you). And, as with such applications designed to link to other people and events, a new notification center will let you know of new emails, messages, and other data when they arrive.

In all, Apple claims another 100 new features will be added under OS X 10.8. Wow! For the many users still grappling with about a dozen new features under OS X 10.7, this must seem already fairly daunting to think about.

Of course, merging iOS and OS X to look the same on the screen would mean every Apple hardware product must somehow differentiate itself from the rest for consumers to see the benefit of purchasing another Apple product. For this reason, it seems logical for Apple to come up with some important differences in the next laptop design. Perhaps the idea of a detachable keyboard and a nice large screen to carry around could be on the cards?

For example, it would be really interesting to see laptops come with the new super-tough amorphous alloy casing for super thin portable computing devices, and a detachable screen from the keyboard to allow the screen to act like an iPad. Now that would be fairly cool, and potentially very useful for users.

Yet, somehow, one gets the impression more has to be done to make the laptops really useful to consumers in the future.

Maybe Apple will see the light in having two LCD screens, one for the display of information and the other containing a quality touch screen keyboard. The screens can switch around depending on how the laptop is rested on the table. Detach the screens from each other and you could have two iPads. Put the laptop on its edge, and it is an eBook with two pages on either side like a real book.

Actually, choose the size of the laptop you want, and you can have a small, medium or large-sized eBook in your hands, depending on how large you are prepared to carry the device around with you.

Now we are getting somewhere more interesting. A multifunctional device for all situations.

Until then, it is nice to dream.

However, reality will force us to always stick with what we've got for now. And that's good enough for most people.

UPDATE
16 March 2012

Apple released Preview 2 of OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion". The focus here appears to be to make the Apple user experience seem effortless, efficient and easy to use. Although potentially some features may be overly too simplified in an attempt to cater for the mass market of newbies who decide to use the Mac computer for the first time.

Changes to the interface for a number of Apple applications are primarily to simplify their look by unifying certain features for greater ease of use. To achieve this, certain commonly used buttons and fields may serve in a multifunctional way. A classic example of this is the merging of the search and URL fields in Safari.

Another change is choosing application names of combined and updated contacts-related Apple applications such as iCal, Address Book and others to something more logical and makes sense, such as Calendar and Notes (and therefore more likely to be used).

Fortunately more refinements to the Finder will see greater efficiencies in things like the default button you see in dialog boxes (so when you press the Return key it will click the default button). For example, Apple might initially choose the Cancel button as the default and pressing the return key will click this default button. However, if you prefer the Yes or No buttons to be clicked, the next time you see these same buttons, the last button you clicked will become the new default button, that kind of thing.

Apple-approved preview beta testers and developers are also touting the comeback of the "Save As" command to avoid the earlier confusion when using the Versions feature in OS X 10.7 "Lion". Apple has been listening to its users at last.

These new features are being viewed as generally the more positive aspects to come out of this latest preview version. Nevertheless, there still remains some nagging areas of concern for some users.

For example, it is claimed the ability to freely video chat and share your screen with another user will now require establishing an online Apple Instant Messaging (AIM) account in order for these more popular features to work. It is unclear to what extent Apple has control or the ability to view the kind of information that gets transmitted online during video chats when users are forced to login to an account. One can hope it isn't anything sinister. Perhaps nothing more than another avenue to encourage users to register their computer and OS X to Apple. Somehow we feel this may not be the case.

Another change is the removal of Software Update from the Apple menu and making all free software updates for OS X and Apple's own application done strictly through the App Store. It means you will definitely have to create an account on the App Store to benefit from any free OS X software updates. If not, most users will probably stick to an older and most stable OS X version and wait for the last and most stable version of the next OS X upgrade before making the move. And then hopefully, users can still buy the OS X installation disk from a traditional "bricks and mortar" Apple store without needing to prove who they are. However, something is suggesting Apple will try to do away with all disks and force everyone to use the App Store for all their software needs.

Fortunately users still have a thing called Safari and the Apple web site support page to turn to. But then again, the grand plan for Apple might be to do away with even the software downloads from the web site's support page and force everyone to use the App Store, and with no installation disks to be provided under any circumstances. Maybe this is the ultimate aim with all these changes under OS X?

Still, the internet is a very big place and many users can probably download the free OS X updates from other people's web sites without needing to go through the App Store. Unless, of course, Apple flexes its legal muscle to prevent third-party users from distributing the free updates to other users. We hope Apple doesn't get this bad.

Speaking of creating accounts online, you will be pleased to know there will be yet another account to set up in order to access the iCloud service. All great news for the company to see what you are doing in terms of the files you upload and the personal data you transmit between your Mac and iPhone and iPads. Have we covered everything so far?

Oops! Not quite! How can we forget the Developers' Account if you want to try out Apple's latest beta OS X software (isn't that what users are already doing under OS X "Lion"?).

Does Apple want our bank account details too? Given how easy it is to transfer personal details through the iCloud service, it will just be a matter of time before Apple finally gets that information too.

Or better still, buy your own internet-enabled backup storage unit and call it your own personal iCloud solution and upload/download to this storage unit entirely for free (we hear this is the smartest and more privacy-protected option available to you); stick to an older and stable OS X version; find alternative third-party software solutions to make video chat and screen sharing a free and anonymous activity; and why not go further and buy or get for free a third-party contacts relationship management system in case you are not sure how Apple manages your personal data in the company's own applications?

These are the sorts of things users will be wondering as Apple prepares for the imminent release of the next OS.

Or why doesn't the company simply provide two OS X versions? One called the basic "no thrills" privacy-protected OS X version (but with all the security updates) without all the extra features (basically let users purchase the features they want as plug-ins or independent applications)? Then provide a full-featured OS X version for the people new to the Mac who think having all those new features are critical to their digital lives.

Just call the full OSX version the "Professional Edition", and the basic OSX version the "Consumer Edition".

Seems like a natural direction to take OS X considering a number of users are choosing to stick to an older OS X version (i.e., OS X "Snow Leopard") for its simplicity, stability and not overly packed with features that will probably never be used.

Surely it must make sense to Apple?

UPDATE
13 June 2012

Apple is adding a number of useful improvements of OSX such as better memory management (should have been there since OSX first came out), as well as more efficient workflows such as gestures and other aspects. Combine this with further security improvements and it is the price we must all pay for having other more hidden OSX technologies we probably don't need (or, more likely, we can't control), such as a more efficient transfer of personal details to Apple servers of who we are and what we use while online and especially when using Apple applications.

Still, the improvements in the ninth developer preview release (now a 3.7GB installation file to download) are not to be sneezed at. Indeed, the changes and improvements are likely to see many OSX "Lion" users make the jump as quickly as possible in the hope of getting away from the inflexibilities of the old OS. As for OSX "Snow Leopard" users, they might need a little more convincing. Greater flexibility in customising the OS and turning off unnecessary technologies (including the more dubious ones) would be a particularly good start (if Apple is listening).

The new OS is officially released

On 26 July 2012, Apple gave the official go ahead to release OSX 10.8 "Mountain Lion" to the public.

Here are a few thoughts from various users:

View 1

"Smooth upgrade. I'm running an Early 2009 iMac 2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo with 8GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive. Not a new machine, but it runs great. Safari 6 is way faster than the last version, which took a long time connecting and loading pages lately. The new Notes app will replace the dozen Text Edit documents I have open.

Removing RSS feeds from Safari was stupid, but I see where they are gong with it. With a Notification Center compatible RSS reader, you will get your updates along with all the other updates in the NC. It didn't take me long to find the free NetNewsWire for RSS feeds. Clicking on the RSS links in Safari loaded them in NNW. The Finder also seems snapper overall, though I don't see too many changes.

Lastly not a single app of mine was broken from the update. Seems like a good $20 investment." (User: Davidravenmoon, MacUpdate)

Views 2

"I'm writing this comment using the new dictation feature, which I was kind of interested in playing around with. It seems to work pretty well, but I don't know how frequently I'll use it. As you can see, it actually recognizes punctuation when I'm speaking. That's pretty cool." (User: MacUpdate-Warren, MacUpdate)

"I read, that everything you dictate is sent to Apple servers. Do they keep everything you say? For how long do they keep your recordings ? Do they respect privacy ?" (User: Beamy, MacUpdate)

We should add that Apple has provided on 26 July 2012 a mid-2011 and mid-2012 MacBook Air and 2012 Retina MacBook Pro SMC update 1.0 for the 15-inch model that enables a feature called PowerNap. It means your laptop will be able to continue communicating with Apple servers, updating various things on your hard drive, while it is in sleep mode. Has the advantage of saving you time in clicking various buttons just to find out what's changed in various Apple applications. Has the bigger advantage of Big Brother / Apple compiling a profile of who you are for whatever purpose without you knowing about it.

Apple has provided slightly more details on what happens during a PowerNap:

  • Mail. Receive new messages.
  • Contacts. Your Contacts update with any changes you may have made on another device.
  • Calendar. Receive new invitations and calendar updates.
  • Reminders. Reminders updates with any changes you may have made on another device.
  • Notes. Notes updates with any changes you may have made on another device.
  • Documents in your iCloud account. iCloud pushes any edits you made to a document to your Mac notebook.
  • Photo Stream. Your Photo Stream updates with new photos from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
  • Mac App Store updates. Your Mac notebook can download updates from the Mac App Store.
  • Time Machine backup. Your Mac notebook can back up while it sleeps.
  • Find My Mac. Locate a lost Mac notebook even when it is sleeping.
  • VPN on demand. Corporate email updates securely.
  • Configuration profile. Macs in managed environments can receive configuration profile updates.

All this transferring of your personal data and gathering software statistics such as the title, how often each title is used, when and by whom, naturally requires the iCloud service, which in this OSX version is more cleverly concealed (i.e. there is no iCloud.app to see what's happening on your 5GB account on the Apple server). And iCloud will be turned on regularly when opening applications and accessing system preference panes. In addition, OSX will force you to specify a "[user]@me.com" iCloud account name if you haven't done so already. In fact, you need to just to run this OSX version.

NOTE: Although technically you shouldn't have to if the computer is not connected to the internet. The annoying iCloud account set-up message will pop-up should you be on the internet.

Thus all your conversation histories in the Messages.app and all your emails you send and receive, all your calender events going back to who knows when (even if you delete them over time), who you are (from registration details and all your communications), your photos and everything else stored in any Apple applications will be available for Apple to see on its servers. And all data is never encrypted before sending to the Apple servers. Very convenient for Apple. This has to be the closest thing to Orson Welles' science fiction book 1984 with Big Brother watching your every move.

As one user commented on MacWorld.com:

"Hey Apple, do you also want a picture of my ass to store on your "you beaut" iCloud server so you can analyse it in all its glory and send me tailored-made adverts telling me I have haemorrhoids and need an ointment to relieve my discomfort?"

On the positive side, at least you do get an effective speech-to-text recognition feature in the Apple software known as Dictate where you can write text documents by speaking to your computer without purchasing Dragon Dictate at $200 (by the way, version 3.0 is the best one for accuracy and ability to correct mistakes easily and remembers them, and is the only one to be compatible with the latest OSX, i.e., "Mountain Lion"). Oops! Well, we just realised this is not quite the case. As Apple stated

"When you dictate text, what you say is sent to Apple to be converted to text. To help your Mac recognise what you're saying, other information is sent as well, such as your contacts."

Apple provides more details when you click the "About Dictation & Privacy" button:

"When you use the keyboard dictation feature on your computer, the things you dictate will be recorded and sent to Apple to convert what you say into text. Your computer will also send Apple other information, such as your first name and nickname; and the names, nicknames, and relationship with you (for example "my dad") of your address book contacts. All of this data will be used to help the dictation feature understand you better and recognise what you say. Your User Data is not linked to other data that Apple may have from your use of other Apple services."

Oh well, never mind. Sounds like Dragon Dictate might be worth the investment after all.

View 3

"While Mountain Lion doesn't provide any significant new features, it quietly cuts support for a few generations of Macs — even some 4-year old." (User: Zevrix, MacUpdate)

It should be noted that this OS version requires 64-bit Mac computers only. This leaves only those computers manufactured after December 2008.

View 4

"I'm a developer, you know, so to me upgrading is a MUST. Especially considering the Gatekeeper - even though you can test it on Lion. So the entire developer community will be upgrading their Macs for sure. Once again, I'm kind of grateful for this because it forced me to get a much faster Mac." (User: Zevrix, MacUpdate)

This may be the only good reason to upgrade — for developers needing to develop software to work on the latest OSX.

Views 5

"Sad to hear. Lion was truly a mess for me. From TextEdit becoming a usability nightmare, to apps annoyingly saving their "state" on quit, about a couple months of use I just gave up and returned to 10.6." (User: Jp2110, MacUpdate)

"10.8 gives you a lot more flexibility on saving states (and more or less returns the "Save As" option, too), without having to resort to 3rd party tricks." (User: Misha, MacUpdate

There is a general consensus among users that OSX 10.8 "Mountain Lion" is considerably more flexible than OSX 10.7 "Lion" especially where the complaints were said to have been numerous and the loudest. As for the newest features of the latest OSX, more time is required for users to properly determine if they like them or not.

View 6

"It seems faster and more polished, but it wont look like a totally different OS." (User: Davidravenmoon, MacUpdate)

View 7

"My hopes are with Mountain Lion, which I will download sooner just to get rid of Lion." (User: FrankM Sydney Morning Herald)

Among other improvements, we can happily report a faster boot up time of around 5 to 10 seconds for most modern 64-bit Macs, a faster Safari 6 version with an integrated search and address field box (although you do lose RSS feeds, so download this third-party extension called RSS Menu Extension for Safari 1.8 to re-establish the feature), lots of minor tweaks to improve the workflow compared to OSX Lion, and it will properly import all your OSX settings and Apple application data (e.g. emails, contact addresses, iCalc events etc) faithfully and accurately during the upgrade (much better than OSX Lion).

One slight annoyance which you will need to change the settings for is the ability to run any software from any location. As this version of OSX defaults to after installation, running certain software without the MAS (Mac Apple Store) signature file stored in the applications contents folder will display an annoying message and force you to stop running the application: The message is along the lines of:

"...it is not in MAS or not an approved vender."

A very useful default setting for Apple if you want as many users to think they have to use the App Store to purchase every software for their Mac (and so tell Apple if the user has legitimately purchased the software from an approved vendor). This is believed to be the best solution to tackling the software piracy problem. However for those users who do have legitimate software but don't have the signature files to run them on OSX 10.8 "Mountain Lion", then follow these steps to removing the restriction:

  1. Open the "Security & Privacy" preference pane in System Preferences.
  2. Click the "General" tab, followed by clicking the lock icon in the corner to unlock the settings.
  3. Look for "Allow applications downloaded from:" and select the option "Anywhere".
  4. Accept the security warning and allow.
  5. You can now launch any app from any location or developer.

Despite the privacy concerns and minor annoyances, on the whole, most users have found this version to be a mostly positive experience. Indeed, if you are an OSX "Lion" user, you will be glad to know virtually every other "Lion" user had great things to say about the latest OSX and amazingly nearly every one of them have immediately upgraded. We wonder why? If, however, your privacy still remains a major issue and you want to improve the security and privacy of your computer running this OS version, check towards the end of our security page for steps you can apply and the additional tools you will need.

Priced at US$19 (better than OSX Lion's price of $30) , OSX "Mountain Lion" has been tailored-made and priced to get as many users to use the OS and, of course, the Apple Store where this software is the only place you can get a copy (and yes, you do need to create yet another account with Apple to purchase and download this software).

Sounds like Apple has it all in the bag.

Update OSX 10.8.1

Either Apple has managed to quash most of the bugs in previous OSX versions, or the latest OSX is designed to allow for much smaller update files to fix things, but it seems the 24MB OSX 10.8.1 update released on 23 August 2012 has eliminated a few relatively obscure bugs, and some rather crucial bugs in iMessages when sending emails, connecting to a Microsoft Exchange server in Mail (considered high priority), and the Migration Assistant no longer bombs out. The update came out very quickly after the launch of OSX 10.8.0, and the update file had to have a smaller digital footprint on people's limited bandwidth in order to make the more seasoned Mac user seem a little more relieved and thinking perhaps this latest OSX 10.8.1 isn't so bad now. Well, Apple has to. With all the forcing of "Mountain Lion" users to sign up to this and that account on Apple servers just to download the latest OSX version and various other useful services and give Apple excuses to snoop around at what people are doing, and the applications they are using, it really has to be much better.

Bugs fixed in this update:

  1. Resolve an issue that may cause Migration Assistant to unexpectedly quit.
  2. Improve compatibility when connecting to a Microsoft Exchange server in Mail.
  3. Address an issue playing audio through a Thunderbolt display.
  4. Resolve an issue that could prevent emails in iMessages from being sent.
  5. Address an issue that could cause the system to become unresponsive when using Pinyin input.
  6. Resolve an issue when connecting to SMB servers with long names.
  7. Address a issue that may prevent Safari from launching when using a Proxy Automatic Configuration (PAC) file.
  8. Improve 802.1X authentication with Active Directory credentials.

There are likely to be other issues not seen before this update came out, like those people using Netgear third-party solutions requiring yet another update to their software to be compatible with OSX 10.8.1.

Overall, for those users with the latest Mac computers, OSX 10.8.1 should be understandably viewed as the faster and most stable ever.. For everyone else, it is the most privacy-invasive of all the OSX yet released. It means OSX "Snow Leopard" is still looking exceptionally good at the moment.

Interest in, and adoption rate for, OSX 10.8 "Mountain Lion" much better than 10.7, but is it better than 10.6?

According to Appleinsider.com, the rate of interest for OSX 10.8 (based on the amount of traffic for all Mac-related information online) had reached just a tad under 10 per cent in roughly one month since its launch, which is better than 3 months for OSX 10.7. In fact, Apple claims over 3 million copies of OSX 10.8 have been sold and downloaded from the App Store in the first four days of launching the product, making it the most successful OSX launch in Apple's history. Well, it needed to be. Apple was realising a lot of users are happy with OSX 10.6 and only those OS 10.7 users were looking to the next version to get away from the main problems they were having.

After nearly 1 year since the launch of OSX 10.7, it is claimed by Apple through a WWDC Keynote presentation in June 2012 that 40 per cent of Mac users have finally moved onto OSX 10.7. Fortunately, OSX 10.8 is said to be on track to beat those statistics. But will enough OSX 10.6 users make the move?

Most of the people who have purchased OSX appear to be from third-party developers, disgruntled OSX 10.7 users, and those new Macintosh users who have purchased the retina display MacBook Pro 15-inch laptop for greater portability and more compact design which comes pre-installed with OSX 10.8 as standard. However the peak for users looking at information relating to OSX 10.8 had already been reached quicker than expected on 29 July 2012 and the rate was slowly increasing to 10.2 per cent as of 27 August 2012. Although definitely an improvement from OSX 10.7, it will be a slow process to convince many other Mac users to see OSX 10.8 as being better than OSX 10.6, especially with the inconvenience of having to sign up to various Apple services such as the App Store and purchase additional software to make things work (unless they know how to bypass OSX GateKeeper's app code signature checker). And the amount of information Apple seems to want to know about the user is starting to make some people question just how much of their privacy is being given up.

So long as the price for OSX 10.8 remains at US$20 to convince people it is value for money to make the upgrade, and Apple can make the process of checking what people do as unobtrusively as possible and more new and interesting laptops get released to interest buyers, this is the only way the adoption rate for the latest OSX is going to rise further and maintained for long enough until sufficient users come to accept it as the standard.

And when that happens and enough users accept all software coming from the App Store, Apple should be able to remove the code for bypassing the GateKeeper.

Never mind. Hopefully by that time, there will be enough third-party developers to offer tools to bypass the code signature checking system for users who simply want to run the applications.

Apple releases OSX "Mountain Lion" 10.8.2 update

Released on 19 September 2012, the update seems to provide some fixes, but mostly a swath of new or re-added features resulting in the update file growing to more than 665MB. Either Apple seems to have cut back on too many features, or were waiting for the right moment to introduce more features to encourage users of previous OSX versions to make the transition to OSX 10.8.x. But there are enough other changes to keep third-party manufacturers on their toes, which means you will need to download new update files to make your third-party devices compatible again, or wait for Apple to fix the problems. For example, some software manufacturers such as the makers of TechTool Pro 6.0.6 have decided to "avoid specific ATI/AMD Radeon video cards from loading Quartz animations under OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion until it's resolved by Apple (Bug #12113692)". So, if you happen to experience problems with things like eSATA cards causing your computer to crash, try removing the device or find a new third-party update file from the manufacturer. Or else update some software applications where the manufacturers are aware of bugs and have removed certain features.

There are more new features than fixes, and too many to mention in this page. You are better off checking Apple's Knowledge Base article for further details.

In summary, the update seems primarily to provide new features and enhancements to existing features to make like easier for users. For example, Facebook users are now allowed "single sign on" and share information more easily with other Facebook users, including the latest scores in games played. And for the person who use iPhones and the computer for more serious work, certain Apple applications will let you know if say a phone call is received, and other improvements.

Includes the update for MacBook Air (Late 2010 models) to enable Power Nap. Dictation-to-text feature expanded to include other languages, a French definition dictionary included in Dictionary.app, new shared reminders list etc.

By way of fixes, improvements seem to be in accessing SMB servers in a more reliable way (still being worked on despite the problem been known since OSX 10.6.8 "Snow Leopard), enable Keychain to be accessible again under rare situations, better support to @cloud.com services using your email addresses, more security (SSL) to Google searches from the Smart Search Field in Safari etc. Still, a lot more fixes are on their way with the next update or two from Apple.

Until then, users of older OSX versions are holding out. And even then, when the fixes do come, Apple is deciding to make the updates available only to OSX 10.7 or higher users.

Indeed, as of October 2012, Apple is aware of these instability issues under OSX 10.8 and 10.7 and some of its applications such as Aperture 3.4. Users have reported, for instance, of numerous random crashes and slow speed with Aperture 3.4 or less. As a result, Apple has paid particular attention to ironing out the bugs and making the application run faster under OSX 10.8 "Mountain Lion". The updates (e.g. Aperture Update 3.4.1) are provided only for OSX 10.7 (for greater stability) and OSX 10.8 (for extra speed) users. Older uses who are running Aperture 3.4 or less must upgrade OSX to get the benefits, or else spend extra money purchasing Adobe LightRoom.

Full client combo update available here (665MB).

Plus you will be pleased to hear Apple has provided the OSX 10.8.2 Supplementary Update 1.0 to fix up the following bugs:

  • Resolves an issue that may cause certain Japanese characters to appear incorrectly in Mail.
  • Allows Safari to access secure sites when parental controls are enabled.
  • Addresses an issue that may prevent systems with more than 64 GB of RAM from starting up.
  • Resolves an issue that may cause DVD Player to unexpectedly quit.

as of 4 October 2012.

You can be assured more fixes are coming. Stay tuned...

Things you can do to make it less nagware and annoying and more like a secure, privacy-protected and friendly OS and with some familiarity to previous OS versions

Here are some steps you may wish to implement to make the latest OS feel right at home:

  1. Go into Security & Privacy system preference pane, and set in the General tab under "Allow applications downloaded from" to "Anywhere". This will dramatically reduce the amount of nagging you get from the GateKeeper. And while you are in the system preference pane, go into Firewall tab, turn on the Firewall, click the Firewall Options button, and choose "Block all incoming connections" (unless you need to enable "iTunes music sharing", and other types of services, in which case create exception rules).
  2. Another nag message you will probably want to get rid of is when running downloaded software for the first time. It will say something along the lines of, "XXXX is an application downloaded from the Internet. Are you sure you want to open it?". If you are confident the software is from a safe source, you can disable these Microsoft Windows-like annoying messages from your Mac. Open Terminal and type:

    defaults write com.apple.LaunchServices LSQuarantine -bool NO

    and enter your admin password to approve the change. Reboot the computer and you will never be nagged again. NOTE: To reverse the change, type:

    defaults write com.apple.LaunchServices LSQuarantine -bool YES

    (not that we think you want to go back).
  3. Getting access to the Library folder inside the Users folder can be a pain in the you know where unless you know how to make the folder visible again. To make it visible and keep it visible forever, download this AppleScript file and run it.
  4. For laptop users wanting to re-establish the tap for click on your trackpad so you can drag things around on the screen with your finger, go into the Accessibility system preference pane, click the "Trackpad Options" button, put a tick in the check box that says "Enable dragging" and choose as the option "with Drag Lock". Click Done when finished.
  5. In the Sound system preference pane, choose "Line In" for the audio input option to ensure the input microphone cannot pick up sounds and quietly send them to Apple or a third-party. Only keep the input to "Internet Microphone" if you intend to use the service (e.g. using Skype etc).
  6. Install Little Snitch 3.0.2 to stop (or at least give you control to decide which ones to allow) unauthorized outgoing information from being sent by your Apple and other commercial software applications.
  7. Don't use Safari 6.x due to privacy concerns (see below). Use FireFox 17 (or is it version 50 by now?). If you have to use Safari, open Preferences, and in Privacy, put a tick in the check box that says "Ask web sites not to track me". Also set to "Deny without prompting" in the "Limit website access to location services". It won't completely stop it given the way Apple has designed Safari at the present time, so use the tool Little Snitch 3.0.2. Set the History items in the General tab to be kept for no more than one day, unless you need this service to retain history for a longer period of time.
  8. Download and install browser extension Do Not Track Plus (DNT+) or Ghostery 1.3.0 to block web sites that want to track your movements when surfing on the internet. To save on CPU usage and minimise bandwidth usage and so keep your computer nice and cool (and last a long time), use the extension ClickToFlash 2.7.1 or higher.
  9. Turn off AirPort and Bluetooth services until you are ready to use them. Do the same for any Network services you are not going to use in the Networks system preferences.
  10. Install the freeware Launchpad-Control 1.6.3 (only works for OSX "Lion" and OSX "Mountain Lion" up to version 10.8.2 and decide which applications you want to appear in LaunchPad, rather than let Apple find and display all your applications (especially in the Applications folder). NOTE: In OSX "Mountain Lion" version 10.8.3 and higher, the freeware tool will no longer work, and the developer seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth. Perhaps Apple has provided him with a well-paid job in return for no further developments on the tool?)
  11. Try the donationware Mountain Tweaks 1.0.4 to enable the permanent appearance of the scroll bars in Finder windows etc (remember to restart the computer to see the changes).

  12. Enable Java in the Java Preferences.app in the Utilities folder if you intend to do things like check your online bank accounts. Most banks still employ Javascripts to do their job. Of course, Java can also be a double-edge sword especially if you visit less reputable web sites from hackers who want nothing more than to find a way for you to run their Javascripts and steal your personal information and/or watch what you do quietly. So the best advice here is to choose your web sites carefully and avoid those that look dubious like the plague. Easy to say, but will come naturally with experience and with the territory as you explore the web and learn how people do things online. You will become familiar with certain advertised electronic markers left behind or used by certain people that will ring the bells of warning when you see them.
  13. Use OnyX 2.6.7 or higher to set certain parameters for Finder, Safari, the Dock and others to what you want.
  14. If you prefer the original grid-like appearance of spaces as in the old OSX "Snow Leopard", we recommend the shareware TotalSpaces 1.1.3. As Jazzyguy stated on MacUpdate:
    Great App as Spaces looks a lot better on ML. In fact Spaces are more like my Snow Leopard Macs with this great app.5 stars for sure.
  15. Goes to show if Apple makes too many unnecessary changes, users will eventually be forced to find solutions of their own to get back what they've lost.

While the above recommendations will go a significant way toward returning the OS to something resembling OSX "Snow Leopard" and with a little more privacy, unfortunately there are enough other changes to keep you on your toes. For example, you may have trouble accessing or performing transactions such as transferring funds between bank accounts while you are online (probably needs Java SE 6 to be updated and to use a third-party browser), and not being able to see the amount of space available on the hard drives in open Finder windows remain a rather obvious and fairly glaring omission. In fact, the latter observation suggests Apple is assuming all users are using a single partition which is what nearly all Mac novices tend to do when they receive their Macs for the first time (i.e. accept Apple's default hard drive factory setup) and just wait. Eventually the OS will let the user know if he/she has run out of space on the hard disk. Then it is a sign for novices that it is time to upgrade the hard drive.

One gets the impression Apple is pampering to the lowest common denominator of new Mac users who seem willing to try out new designs and technologies from the company even when they are not thoroughly tested (for the early release). So what about the experienced Mac users? What do they need? Or must all experienced Mac users suck their "thumbs", or else learn Xcode where they can develop the plug-ins and other software to do the job properly (e.g. fill in missing features from the current OS)?

Also the privacy issue is not as great as Apple is touting with the ability to secretly send diagnostic and usage data of applications you use to Apple's own server located at www.radarsubmissions.apple.com. As one user commented on the Apple discussions page:

"This is what I get:

SubmitDiagInfo wants to connect to radarsubmissions.apple.com on TCP port 443 (https)
IP Address: 17.254.2.214
Reverse DNS Name: radarsubmissions.apple.com
Established by /System/Library/CoreServices/SubmitDiagInfo
Process ID: 2057
User: C***** (UID: ***)

but I have set to not send to Apple."

Another user said:

"I have the same problem. The checkbox in the Privacy configuration is ticked off and it still tries to send information to Apple, i open the console and i see every time i visit a webpage, read a mail, quickloop something, sneez or take a dump is in the **** log. I don't remember opting in to this, it's quite unsettling."

Turning off the "Send diagnostic and usage data" feature in the Security and Privacy system preference pane has no effect.

Information is sent when an application crashes. Now you will need TCPBlock or Little Snitch 3.0.2 to stop this information coming out without your consent.

As another example, OSX needs to quietly access the configuration.apple.com server on port 80 when running Safari, XProtectUpdater, Ubiquity (an internal OSX process name referring to Apple's iCloud) and other applications. Actually, in Ubiquity, some applications have been known to hang when opening a file in the applications, especially under OSX "Lion". This is may be due to the application trying to sync the file to your iCloud account and check to see whether you have the latest file. However, this MacWorld.com article suggests it might be more a corrupt set of data stored in the files inside the Ubiquity folder in ~/Library/Application Support/. It is unclear. The point is, Apple seems to want to do a lot of automatic updating, checking and configuring of your software while you are online and that includes knowing the names of your applications. In that way, Apple can configure the applications to make them work better, or let you know your software may need updating. Some people have suggested turning off "Automatically update safe downloads list" to stop OSX accessing the server, but this won't work. There are too many applications using the server. Unless you absolutely and positively need to be told your applications need updating, or you have a serious problem with malware, or have to collaborate on a file using iCloud with other people, you are better off turning off access to the server. Unfortunately there is no On/Off switch to control this aspect, except with Little Snitch 3.0.2.

And finally, there is always two sides to every coin. In terms of stability of applications, it isn't just OSX that needs to be stable, but also the applications themselves. In the case of Apple applications such as FileMaker Pro 12 there are enough serious memory leaks resulting in unexpected crashes after a period of time, unexplained slowing down of applications after a period of use (especially during launches and quitting), and the invisible.DS_Store files lose their settings after a serious enough application crash making the OS fairly useless in keeping the files and applications in their custom position in the windows. Combine these with general interface oddities and it is already telling us that Apple now has to pay closer attention to the applications it is trying to sell to customers with its OS. If it doesn't, what's the point of upgrading OSX when it isn't the OS that's causing the problems? Or maybe that is where the configuration.apple.com server comes into the picture to let people know they have to regularly update bug-ridden applications while Apple quietly gathers information about the applications installed on your computer and the files you create or work on. It seems to be the only way to stamp out software piracy if it means looking at everything you do on your computer.

NOTE: Apple has updated FileMaker Pro 12 to version 3. Some effort has been made to reduce some memory leaks when working within scripts. Yet the biggest memory leaks can still be found when working on more than a dozen layouts and you have to change, say, the behaviour of buttons in each layout. When moving from one layout to the next thinking the application will automatically save the layout changes (the option is there to do so), it seems that the application might be unable to save quickly enough the changes before editing the next layout element. It is either that, or there is another problem suggesting it accumulates to much rubbish from each change and doesn't get cleared after a while.

The last Apple Java SE 6 update?

Ever since the release of Apple Java 6 2012-006 Update 12, Apple Inc. has removed the rather useful Java Preferences.app from the Utilities folder as well as the Java applet plug-in for web browsers. It appears Apple wants all users to download the latest plug-in version direct from the Oracle web site through our web browsers, and preferably the latest Java 7, although too many Java applications still rely on Java 6. The security problems seen in recent times on OS X is viewed by Apple as being the greatest with the installation of Java on OS X. Why? Oracle has taken over Java from Sun Microsystems and has discovered numerous security bugs existent in the software.

What's Java?

Java is another programming language for allowing people to develop and run applications. The biggest advantage of Java is the ability to run the same applications on different OS platforms, whether it be OS X, Windows or Linux. Oracle does most of the work of getting the Java programming language to understand what to do by linking up to the appropriate system software libraries of different platforms and so give software programmers the chance to build an application just once and know it will work across all machines.

Do I need Java?

Probably not, except nowadays more and more web pages are using an increasing amount of Javascripts to help provide you with new features and a rich interactive experience not possible using the standard HTML programming language. But then again, if you are just simply presenting information online for reading, you certainly don't need javascripts. But when you do need these scripts, it tends to be those times when you need to perform simple tasks like selecting a file to upload to someone through an HTML web page.

For the most part, people who visit a lot of web sites will tend to come across a sufficient number of web sites having a great deal of interactivity, special effects and other features and, therefore, need javascripts. Given that Java has the power to extend HTML to achieve a lot more things, having Java installed will often be seen by heavy internet users as a must have addition. On the other hand, for the occasional visit to a few HTML-only web sites and some light reading, it is not essential to have javascripts and hence Java 6 and 7 installed on your computer. A classic example would by the SUNRISE web site (with the exception of the clock in the Contacts page. Indeed, for web sites like ours, they are probably the most secure. In these latter web sites, Java is definitely not a necessity and, in fact, not having it installed is the most secure online approach you can take.

The security issues raised by some observers in relation to Java and javascripts are not unlike the way macros in Microsoft Word and Excel documents had once caused a furore among security experts. Nowadays, Microsoft has provided the option for users to decide whether or not to let macros run when opening Microsoft Word and Excel documents containing them, and with other security improvements to the macro language, there are much fewer security-related problems to contend with today using macros. Indeed, the usefulness of macros has now outweighed the negative aspects to the point where you are not likely to get people complaining about the security bugs on macros compared to, say, Java at the present time.

Java is still going through a phase where it needs to improve the security aspects quite significantly. When this process is largely fixed (it may take many years), the language should end up being about as useful as having macros in Microsoft applications.

So which is the version of Java we should install?

The general rule of thumb is go for the latest, which generally means the most secure and, hopefully, the most reliable. This means visiting the Oracle web site and downloading the latest Java 7 (although Apple is still providing security updates to Java 6 and many Java applications today are still depended on this older version until the developers finally move the code over to the Java 7 environment). If you are not a programmer and have no ambitions of developing Java applications, you only need to install what Oracle calls the Java Runtime Environment (JRE). Anything else should be ignored, especially the Java SE Development Kit (leave this one to the programmers).

However, as of March 2013, Java is going through a transition from the older Java 6 version, to the newer, more powerful and, hopefully, more secure Java 7 version. The big problem with this kind of transition is that a number of Java applications may not run on the latest Java 7 environment. Why? Because there are specific programming oddities unique to Java 6 that are no longer understood in the same way by Java 7 and vice versa. To add to the complication, many Java 6 applications have not yet been updated by the developers to handle the newer and vastly more powerful 64-bit environment offered by newer machines and their applications for which Java 7 is capable of handling. Consequently, and depending on how many Java applications you come across and need to run, you may need to install both Java 6 and Java 7 on your computer just to get the most compatibility with older and newer Java applications.

With this information in mind, you will probably need to install both Java 6 and 7 versions on your computer to cover all contingencies, and then after, say, 2015, it should be okay to stick to Java 7 only. However, once again, another complication provided by Oracle is the inability of this company to provide uninstallers for both Java 6 and 7 just to make it easier for users to thoroughly remove the Java environment. One day, Oracle will get its act together.

Just to add another layer of complication and confusion to users, between January and March 2013, Mac users have noticed how on OS X "Lion" and "Mountain Lion", not all Java installers will work. And when you do find an installer that works, you will have to do extra work to install the missing Java applet plug-in needed for your browsers to run Javascripts on web pages and so give you the richer and more interactive experience you may be looking for. It is all part of Apple's way to force people to get the latest and more secure versions of plug-ins direct from Oracle. Messy? Yes, we agree. But Apple doesn't want to mess around with potential security problems of Java, especially on Java 7. The company wants to save money and that means bigger profits. It is happy for now to provide security updates for Java 6 (for a little while longer). But once you enter the Java 7 territory, Apple prefers that you take responsibility for whatever might happens when running Java applications and visiting web sites enabled for the latest Java environment.

Okay. So what do you have to look for?

Well, you have to be careful which version to download. Things are changing all the time and Apple is keen to remove the Java Preferences.app from the Utilities folder. Not that this is totally bad as Oracle does provide a system preference pane (or control panel). However it isn't always clean, simple to use, and give you all the essential information you need (and it is a little bit buggy too), including whether you have Java 6 (7 or 8) installed and what version it is. Java Preferences.app is simpler and gives you all the essential information such as the version number and when enabling Java and setting basic options. Thus when you install the Apple Java 6 2013-001 Update 13 (released on 19 February 2013, which brought Java 6 to version 1.6.0_41-b02-445), and the newer and more secure Apple Java 2013-002 (released on 3 March 2013 for bringing Java 6 to version 1.6.0_43-b01-447), you will lose Apple's own Java Preferences.app in the Utilities folder as well as the Java applet plug-in used by Web browsers for running Javascripts on web pages. In fact, this had been the case since Apple Java 6 2012-006 Update 12 (released in December 2012). These changes suggest that Apple might be getting close to doing away with providing Java updates and wants all Mac users to download what they need from the Oracle web site, including finding the missing Java plug-in. But while people still need Java 6, Apple will continue to offer Java 6 security updates for as long as people require them.

To run Java applications on your computer, you can still use the Java 6 version. To install the OSX "Lion" and "Mountain Lion" Java 6 version, we recommend you download the latest from here (we have simplified the process for you). This is strictly for 64-bit machines. For 32-bit machines, you will need Apple Java 6 2012-006 Update 12 to get the 32-bit compatible Java applet plug-in for older Web browsers. Keep a copy of this plug-in elsewhere before installing newer updates. Otherwise, you are hoping for Oracle to supply the 32-bit plug-in from its web site, which we hear the company doesn't as far as we can tell so you are pretty much on your own in this regard.

Before installing Java 6, we also recommend that you keep a copy of Java Preferences.app in the Utilities folder on your backup drive as it is much easier to use than Oracle's own Java preference pane. But if you lose it during the Apple Java 6 updates, you can download the above latest Java 6 link as we have supplied the app for your convenience.

After doing this, go straight for an update of Java 7 (sorry, no Java 7 installer available for Macs running OS X "Snow Leopard" or older). If you are involved in developing Java applications, you will also need to download and install the Java SE Development Kit 7 (look for JDK 7 on the web page).

If you ever need the Windows version of Java 6, you can be downloaded the latest from here.

NOTE: Installing Java 7 should not remove Java 6 as installed by Apple. If any Java applications don't work and claims they need Java 6 to run, make sure Java 6 is turned on (and especially the 32-bit version if the Java and browser applications are only built for 32-bit machines) through the Java system preference pane (as installed by Oracle), or Apple's own Java Preferences.app. And make sure the Java application that asks or needs Java 6 is trustworthy. If you are not sure, trash the third-party Java application, visit another web site, or use safer and up-to-date Java 7 compatible or non-Java alternative applications. Or simply turn off Java 6 and stick to the latest and more secure version, which is Java 7 of course. Or completely disable all Java versions and turn off the Java plug-in through your internet browsers for the greatest security while you are online. Or getting away from the internet altogether and enabling Java is equally the most secure technology you can have as well. Just something to think about the next time you are wondering whether you need to run Java on your machine.

We hope this all makes sense.

Safari 6.x

There is something strange about Safari 6. The option to Reset Safari is still there under the Safari menu. We also have Private Browsing, although this doesn't seem to do very much to clear all private data on quitting the application.

In earlier versions of the Apple browser, using the above two options were enough to clear all unnecessary and sensitive data including cookies and caches. Now, under version 6.x, cookies are retained and even if you clear the cookies through the Preferences menu command, somehow web sites you have visited such as http://mail.yahoo.com are still remembered in the browser (e.g. a tick mark still appears in the check box that says "Keep me signed in"). On the other hand, the latest Firefox browser, when set up to clear everything on quitting, will clear everything (including the tick mark). Exactly what you want for greater privacy. No matter what you do to use the available options in Safari 6.x, it never seems to properly clear all the data. Why?

It is unclear the reasoning behind this oddity. Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: Safari 6.x is not providing true privacy protection.

If you are not confident in how Safari 6.x is behaving, you now have equally fast and reliable third-party browser alternatives. We suggest trying them out.

OSX "Mountain Lion" is slow to respond as if trying to do all sorts of things in the background

Have you noticed how after editing a file, saving it, putting a copy of the file on another hard drive for safekeeping and trying to trash the original file that the Finder complains the file is still in use? Do you quit all applications and yet it has no effect in convincing the Finder the file is no longer open in any application? Eject the hard drive containing a copy of the file and there's no problem there. But once ejected the Finder still complains about the file still in use. Well, there isn't much more to do except quit the Finder or restart the computer, and then it will work.

This is fairly typical under OSX "Mountain Lion" and is worse than in previous OSX versions. At least with OSX "Snow Leopard", if a file is in use, you know the non-Apple application that's using the file and can quit it and the Finder will handle the file happily, including a good trashing of the file when you want to. Not so for OSX "Mountain Lion". Why does the Finder need to hold onto the file longer than usual?

The latest OSX can also be slow or looking like it is trying to do something in the background (but you just don't know what) as you open a URL shortcut file in the latest Safari. Yet sometimes it never gets to the point of actually opening the URL. You do a force quit and try opening the URL shortcut file on the second occasion, and then it works again.

At other times performing a menu command can take up to 10 seconds for the Finder to wake up and then everything gets back up to speed. Perhaps OSX is trying to keep a copy of the file somewhere? Or is it doing some housekeeping in the background and has just woken up to what it needs to do for the user?

This raises another interesting point: OSX does a lot of updating of caches, logs, keeping multiple copies of files you have been working on, checking online and updating relevant applications and other files. This may be fine. However it does slow things down. And, more importantly, if you ever accidentally trash a file and want to use one of those file recovery software tools, beware. You need to be very quick to "Lock" the hard drive from any further changes, especially from the System and Finder. Even for 60 seconds and OSX can potentially ruin your chances of a successful file recovery. OSX does not sit idle while you are working. It has to be constantly writing information to various hard drives and that's when an important file can be lost forever. It is highly critical under the latest OSX to always backup every file and do it regularly to minimise any problems.

OSX is not the most reliable software to protect all your files even in the event of accidental file trashing.

UPDATE
14 February 2012

Good to see a third-party developer has listened and have come up with a good software utility to solve the accidental file deletion problem. Known as Unblunder 1.2.4, this very useful "set and forget" tool will hang onto files after they have been trashed for just a long enough period of time to permit you to recover them if you make a mistake. As the developer claims:

"Unblunder uses Mac OS X's UNIX underpinnings to hang on to files after the Trash has been emptied. When started, it runs quietly in the background and stays out of your way.

Essentially, Unblunder offers Mac OS X a much needed "Recently Deleted" feature, giving you plenty of time to recover files before they're gone forever. Note: for optimal file recovery and peace of mind, Unblunder needs to be running before an accident happens (i.e. trashing the wrong file).

By default, trashed files over 250 MB in size linger for 5 minutes and smaller files are kept for a day. Of course, you can tweak all these settings to match your work style at anytime.

You no longer need to bother with expensive, complicated file recovery software. Unblunder is much faster and more importantly, helps instantly recover your files exactly as they were when deleted -- not how they were an hour ago or a week ago. "

Excellent work. Now why hasn't Apple thought of this idea?

OSX "Mountain Lion" is unable to repair corrupted Dock files and may actually contribute to corruption of settings files needed by Dock.app

Despite the advanced and highly complex nature of the beast (i.e. OSX), it seem that after a period of time, OSX "Mountain Lion" and the installed Dock.app for launching your applications may not work harmoniously resulting in the appearance of a flashing background once you have started up the computer and logged in. The flashing effect will change at a precise interval from the standard desktop background picture to a dull grey background (the same as when you first start up your computer and observe the Apple logo in the centre of the screen over a grey background). While the background is flashing, the menu bar and desktop icons will remain visible and can be accessed as usual. On checking the Activity Monitor, it would appear the Finder wants to launch Dock.app, but the application immediately crashes only to force the Finder to re-launch the Dock again and again without an end in sight. Because the Dock.app is so well-integrated with OSX and certain other Apple applications may not work independently (i.e. in an environment free from the Dock) including the Finder, you will not be able to kill off the Dock process properly and stop the Finder with its usual nonsense. Nor will restarting the Finder work either. The solution? Creating a new user account will solve the problem. However, the easiest way is to navigate to [startup disk]/Users/[youruseraccount]/Library/Application Support/. In the Application Support folder, find the Dock folder. Drag the Dock folder to the Trash. Now restart the computer. You will find the annoying flashing desktop background will stop, and the Dock will behave itself.

Inspecting the Dock folder will also reveal some clues as to what happened (i.e. an extra file with the word "corrupt" in the name will tell you the Dock is having trouble launching properly using certain corrupted settings). Multiple crash log files of the Dock.app will also be saved in [startup disk]/Users/[youruseraccount]/Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports/. The log files are named "Dock_[Year]-[Month]-[Day]-[Time]_[youruseraccount].crash". Inspecting these files will reveal the following information:

Application Specific Information:
*** Terminating app due to uncaught exception 'NSRangeException', reason: '*** -[__NSArrayMinsertObject:atIndex:]: index 1 beyond bounds for empty array' abort() called terminate called throwing an exception

It is claimed Apple, Inc. is looking into the bug and trying to identify its cause. But one thing would be useful for users: how about letting the Dock stay quit and not allow Apple applications to rely on the Dock to function properly, including the Finder? If there is a problem, tell the user what has happened, give some clues about how to resolve the problem, and just let the Dock quit gracefully. Once the user can fix the problem and restart the computer, then everything should be fine. It just looks more professional.

Is Adobe, Inc. being too greedy by not fixing problems in key features of its own applications running under OSX "Mountain Lion"?

Adobe has come in for some criticism for not fixing the remaining bugs in certain flagship software in an attempt by the company to force users to pay for upgrades to fix most of the bugs, only to find new bugs are created. Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro has been highlighted as a case in point with revelations that selecting the "ClearScan" option in the Text Capture feature and trying to capture a page causes the entire application to crash.

ClearScan tells Adobe Acrobat Pro to convert a bitmap graphic image containing text and pictures into fully editable EPS characters using the closest font type available and later removes the scanned image, leaving behind only the pictures and editable text. The benefit of this option is obvious and quite significant for users in terms of providing the smallest PDF file size possible, and is one of the most popular features of the Adobe Acrobat Professional application.

However, despite the fact that Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro can be run on OSX "Mountain Lion", any user trying to select the "ClearScan" option will crash the application. Not so on OSX "Snow Leopard". The problem is well known to Adobe and mentioned by disgruntled Adobe users on numerous web sites. Yet despite Adobe fixing the problem in Adobe Acrobat X, users of the older version are not given any further support to ensure their product is fully working in all crucial features (of which text capture is one of them) and as advertised by Adobe, Inc. It is possible Adobe might be blaming Apple for changes to OS X to prevent the feature from working properly.

But even if you upgrade to Adobe Acrobat X Pro with the latest 10.1.6 update patch, pressing Command Shift I for "inserting pages from a file" option (another common and popular function for users) does not work on first launching the application and opening a document. You will have to do something to Acrobat to wake this function up such as switching the icon in the toolbar from "Selection tool for text and images" to the hand tool for panning around the document. Or else go under the Tools pane and select the function. Afterwards, things work again.

Does this mean we have to upgrade again to Acrobat XI to get the function working again as in previous versions? Problem is, should users pay for an upgrade, what other new or unnecessary bugs will users find in the new software?

No https in the address bar? You are vulnerable to attack by hackers, government spies, and other shady characters.

Web site owners offering services resulting in cookies being created on your computer will need to take heed of expert advice regarding better security for their online users. This comes as news reaches the public of a FireFox add-on called FireSheep. For further details, click here.

OS X 10.8.3 Update

The standard incremental 10.8.2 to 10.8.3 update (540MB), or the full Combo update (794MB), provides a few important fixes although some undocumented improvements have reportedly increased the performance in running applications, with the greatest speeds allegedly achieved with mostly 3D modelling packages (perhaps after fixing Intel HD 4000 graphics issues).

Other improvements seem predominantly designed to increase compatibility and provide more flexibility to certain applications. For example, you can, finally, install Windows 8 on Boot Camp as well as expand the hard drive capacity limit to handle up to 3TB. when running Windows (if you only want Windows 7, make sure you download the Apple Boot Camp Support 5.0.5033, but should also be useful when installing Windows 8). Whereas some applications that couldn't handle certain plug-ins or other issues as compared to when they were run on previous OS X versions, such as Logic Pro, look like they are fixed under this update.

Other Apple software applications have not gone without some fixes. They include Contacts, Messages, Mail, and Safari (updated to 6.0.3) although the minor nature of this update version for the latter application disguises what is actually a worthwhile improvement in the sense that it now less of a memory hog (it needs to be with the likes of FireFox 19 now breathing down Apple's neck and which is able to run slim and mean and with great performance). Active Directory accounts were also mentioned in this company's Knowledge Base article as having received some improvements through this update.

Still numerous other bugs have yet to be wiped out such as the slow Time Machine backups. It suggests Apple will take its time wiping out a few bugs with each update patch and may likely leave a few behind after the final update to encourage users to upgrade to OS X 10.9 in a couple of years from now.

Overall, it is a must-have update for Mountain Lion users who need more speed and stability, and with greater flexibility and compatibility. But if you are a Snow Leopard user, you won't miss much. As for Lion users, you do get an Apple Security Update 2013-001 just to make you feel all loved and wanted by Apple.

When you apply the update, finish it off with a mandatory file permission repair using Disk Utility, and consider clearing all caches and logs for the System and Finder using OnyX for the extra stability and performance.

Want to remove Launchpad? Good luck!

Since version 10.8.3 came out, people have noticed a dramatic slow down of OS X and applications at certain times (especially when launching, shutting down, and switching over to different running applications to do something for the first time). At the present time, the most annoying problem is a lot of hard disk activity as soon as you log in and the desktop appears. It can take up to a minute before things settle down. Attempts to stop this and speed up the applications included removing the special animated effect in Launchpad, turning off unnecessary features such as auto-correcting of your spelling in the Language and Text system preference pane etc.

This brings us to the question of how to disable certain new features in the latest OS X. Well, not without some difficulties.

Users should bear in mind that one of the biggest aims for Apple in releasing this OS X version is to secretly identify who you are from the Contacts.app (which grabs your identity stored in OS X when you first run and register your Mac), your IP location (easily obtained while you are online and visiting the Apple web site and Google services), and uploading quietly (or when you decide to use the App Store to check on updates) your list of software applications.

We now know the reason why Apple is keen to see people use only the company's own proprietary Contacts.app offered free with OS X, and to find ways to discourage everyone from using third-party contacts solutions that do protect your privacy. We have seen this in FileMaker Pro 12 Advanced where contact solutions can be turned into free (or very low cost) runtime solutions and made available for download to Mac users. This is something Apple doesn't like to see. And now there are indications Apple with its recent FileMaker survey in October 2012 questioning developers whether tit should have the runtime option in FileMaker Pro Advanced, is trying all it can to make the solutions developers make with FileMaker too costly for ordinary users (unless you can afford to purchase a standard FileMaker Pro application to run the database solutions).

Why?

It is all because of wanting to stamp out software piracy. But there is one other feature Apple needs to combat this problem.

The most powerful tool forcombating software piracy under OS X "Mountain Lion" is the Launchpad feature, now integrated into Dock.app.

Try it! Open the front-end application Launchpad.app in the Applications folder. Here, you get the chance to see just how powerful and fast it is in finding any application even when Spotlight is turned off. But for this feature to work, your privacy has to be compromised by sending your contact details, your IP address, and the entire list of applications you have installed (even when you only need to update one or two applications) to an Apple server.

Don't like the idea?

Fortunately there are third-party contacts solutions that do respect your privacy. And no you don't have to purchase SUNRISE Contacts 2013 if you don't want to.

If you want to purchase SUNRISE Contacts 2013, Apple has made it difficult for us to provide you with the privacy you need. In other words, the solution is not perfect since Apple has left open a gaping security hole in FileMaker Pro Advanced to allow anyone a chance to view data in any field of any table in the database solutions. We have notified FileMaker, Inc. and await on whether the Apple subsidiary company will come good on its promise to fix it.

In the meantime, try a different third-party solution.

As for LaunchPad and the ability to grab information about all your applications and send them off to a remote server, you can try disabling the Launchpad feature. But this is not with some difficulties for the unweary user. No third-party developer has come up with a solution to completely disable Launchpad other than to recommend to users to hide the feature by not having tit show up in Mission Control via the hot corners. But no specific solution exists to permanently remove the feature altogether without losing the functionality of Dock.app in launching your preferred applications. Why? Because Apple has a reason to have the feature installed permanently. Thus the reason for the main Launchpad application integrated into Dock.app. As users have come to accept Dock.app as a way of launching applications, Apple has cleverly expanded the capabilities of Dock.app to include the ability to find all applications even if you don't want it to and to make the feature look like a worthwhile inclusion (presumably because users have a hard time finding an application) when users can see how Launchpad can show you all the applications you have). This is where Launchpad comes into the picture.

If you don't like this feature and the way Apple doesn't provide any configuring options for Launchpad, there is not much you can do to stop it.

To remove Launchpad properly, you will have to remove (or replace) Dock.app. While this is technically feasible, the way the latest OS X has been "re-organised" by Apple prevents earlier and leaner versions of Dock.app from running properly. Sure, OS X seems to work fine with Dock.app, but you lose the functionality of a pop-up window showing your preferred list of applications (which you can configure and organise how you wish). It seems the only solution here is for someone to build a third-party solution to duplicate the essential functionality of Dock.app, with its ability to show your preferred applications and let you launch them, and replace what's installed by Apple,

Until a replacement becomes available, users of OS X "Mountain Lion" will have to live with the Launchpad feature. If privacy is critical, don't use Contacts.app, minimise use of the internet (or switch over to OS X "Snow Leopard"), and avoid updating software applications using the Mac App Store (MAS) integrated into OS X. All third-party developers should really be able to offer their solutions directly through their web sites (you only need to look at Android and Windows users to see how popular the old method remains to this day).

Fortunately, other features added to OS X "Mountain Lion" are a little more forgiving in terms of enabling or disabling them using the Terminal or an available utility from a third-party developer (which are often based on using these Terminal commands). But Launchpad is one feature Apple needs to see enabled all the time and with literally no configuration options for users to select, and all for the sake of stamping our software piracy.

Enjoy your new OS X!

Java 2013-003 1.6.0_45 update

Another standard security improvement update, one of many, if not hundreds, to come as Java slowly evolves into a more secure software tool. And another not to provide an uninstall option as well. It is basically install, forget and hope to hell everything will run secure and reliably again. Rather unusual considering Apple wants to do all it can to remove Java from OS X and the Java plug-in from its Safari browser. Never mind. At least Apple is making you think you are safer by having the latest Java update running on your latest OS X version. And while you are at it, you might wish to download the Safari 6.0.4 update, available only from the Mac App Store. According to Apple:

"Safari 6.0.4 allows you to enable the Java web plug-in on a website-by-website basis, with four settings to choose from."

Apple applications remain difficult to update without Spotlight enabled

One of the only applications Apple doesn't like to provide too much support or improvements is FileMaker Pro, in particular the Advanced version. Users are noticing how FileMaker Pro in general is being neglected and given very few new features as well as limited bug fixes. As Simonm said:

"I waited a while for Filemaker 12 but now that it's out I just don't think they're doing enough to remain competitive or relevant. There haven't been any major changes for a number of years and even Filemaker themselves claim that one of the major new features of Filemaker Pro 12 is...new themes!

I agree with the comments about the lack of any form of undo. I can't think of any other major database that doesn't have the ability to enter an edit mode that tracks changes and then allows you to publish them when and if you're happy with them. I'm forever nervous when opening a Filemaker file that I'll inadvertently make some change and not ever realise! " (Macupdate.com. 30 October 2012)

This seems to be reinforced in the FileMaker Pro 12v4 update, with Apple only able to provide the following improvement:

Layout design and rendering: Addressed an issue where portal line borders could render thicker than necessary.

The FileMaker Pro Advanced 12v4 got a couple of more extra improvements:

Layout design and rendering: Addressed an issue where portal line borders could render thicker than necessary.

Save as PDF: Addressed an issue where FileMaker Pro may crash when generating a PDF on Windows XP Windows printing: Addressed an issue that slows down printing a Classic theme on Windows.

Very generous.

And the serious security bug compromising the dat integrity stored in any field when viewing field data viewer under the FileMaker Pro Advanced Tools menu has yet to be fixed. It will have to come in FileMaker Pro Advanced 13, or will Apple remove the Runtime solution feature from the Advanced application and force all users to use the standard FileMaker Pro application?

As another example, JasonE wrote:

"Terrible upgrade policy for those that purchase FileMakerPro Advanced. Every time you want to upgrade, you pay the exact same as if you are upgrading to Advanced from Regular. In other words, Regular FileMaker Pro users pay less for more features and Advanced users get suckered into upgrading to get their bugs fixed.

FIleMaker Pro has a lot of potential, but I agree with others here. They have rested while everything else advances and they still have serious usability issues. Screens are getting wider, yet they moved to the top control bar that wastes the entire top of the screen. They also have a mess for their hot-keys. Only Filemaker goes against what is common place for many keyboard shortcuts.

Also, server is WAY, WAY, WAY overpriced for what it does.

All in all, A+ opportunity, D effort, F Customer service and respect towards developers."

(MacUpdate.com. 26 April 2013.)

Need more comments? Just check Macupdate.com.

And just to make life difficult, the updaters for FileMaker Pro don't work unless Spotlight is turned on and indexing the startup disk (not so for Microsoft updaters, Adobe updaters etc).

And not only that, but OSX has trouble enabling Spotlight in OSX 10.7 "Lion" and higher at certain times. If you have problems enabling Spotlight under OSX 10.7 "Lion" and OSX 10.8 "Mountain Lion", get a utility to show invisible files, and edit etc/hostconfig. You will see "SPOTLIGHT" is not mentioned anywhere. So add a new line and type: SPOTLIGHT=-YES-. Reboot your computer (optionally consider pressing Option Command P R to clear the parameter RAM just before you hear the startup chime). Now go into the Spotlight system preference pane and enable indexing of the startup disk. You will then be able to update FileMaker Pro using the Apple supplied updater file. Afterwards you can disable Spotlight indexing once again.

Anything else, Apple?

Sounds like Apple is determined to drop FileMaker Pro Advanced at some point, making the excuse it is not really popular or useful to anyone and, therefore, not worthy of further support or adding more features. Why would the company do it? It is basically like handing over the keys to the creation of another Apple company for a competitor who might compete with the original Apple's applications, especially the Contacts.app. Why would Apple want to receive extra competition through solutions developed with FileMaker Pro? And with Contacts.app serving as another function in the aim to stop software piracy, it is another reason to stop people selling anything cheap, or even giving away for free a contacts management application alternative as a runtime solution.

It is time Apple sells FileMaker Pro to a company that cares and will do a great job with it.

Claris Corporation, the original owners of FileMaker Pro, should never have sold the application to Apple, Inc. in the first place.

Is it worth your trouble to update Apple (Xerox) printer drivers for OSX 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8?

We say this since the old motto, "If it ain't broke, don't fix" usually applies in the IT world. It is not a critical security update or anything. Just something to increase the compatibility of your computer to handle different Xerox printers. This Apple (Xerox) Printer Update 2.3 may only be useful if you have purchased the most recent Xerox printers and need your Mac to properly communicate with them. If you have a trusty old Xerox printer that works fine, do you want to risk creating more problems by applying this update? Our guess, probably not. But if you do want to update, try installing the update on another OSX startup disk partition and connect your printers. Does the update work? You lucky person, Apple has been good to you this year.

Microsoft Office 2011 improving?

While not strictly related to OSX, knowing whether an application is the cause for problems under OSX is worth mentioning.

We are talking about Microsoft Office 2011 — the hastily put together "we don't care too much about Mac users" version. In the early days, Office 2011 was atrocious for its obvious bugs, and features that didn't work properly. And although the applications are still inferior to the PC version despite all the updates, including not having the ability to properly customise the ribbon to the level of flexibility as its PC counterpart, we have to say, Microsoft is slowly but surely lifting up its game in the first half of 2013. For example, no longer do you have to download individual Office updates in the correct sequence to get the latest update. Microsoft is conveniently providing a single complete update file. Hallelujah! And now the features (even if not as comprehensive and flexible as the PC version) are properly working. While there are still a number of unintuitive functions and features in need of significant improvement, Office 2011 for mid-2013 is probably the best version Mac users have got so far. And yes, you can do more than type a few letters with Microsoft Word.

Thanks Microsoft!

Now all we need is a Microsoft Batch Utility to convert really old Microsoft Word documents into the latest docx format since the company has removed the code for reading older Word document formats in Office 2011. Hmmm? No thanks we have to say to that one.

OS X 10.8.4 Update

It is looking like Apple has reached the limits of what can be done to improve OSX at the present time. Nothing unique or radical to look forward to. Apple seems to have taken it as far as it can go other than perhaps give OSX a complete facelift and create a new look. With news the next iOS for portable Apple devices will sport a new potentially minimalist look but no major features, this is probably all Apple can do for OSX in the future. However, as far as new features to make our work easier are concerned, nothing can be had from this update.

Apple OS X 10.8.4 Update primarily addresses some incompatibility issues on certain enterprise Wi-Fi networks, a new Safari 6.0.5 update which mostly contains security improvements and maybe a couple of bugs wiped out (at this rate it looks like we will all be in old people's homes before the rest of the bugs are finally wiped out),. and the rest are general fixes for Apple applications, namely Boot Camp (a scheduled sleep issue), VoiceOver handles text in PDF documents better, FaceTime calls can be made to non-U.S. phone numbers, and Calendar works better with Microsoft Exchange. This appears to be about all the improvements Apple can find for now.

If you notice any problems mentioned in the above applications, might be worth your effort to update. Otherwise, yawn!

Java 1.6 2013-004 Update

Apple has released Java 1.6 2013-004 Update, raising it to version 1.6.0_51. More details are available from here.

Apple Security Update 2013-003

More security improvements to keep Mac users of this OS version happy. Of course, no one will ever know how secure your Mac really is, and how many security updates it will take to fix everything. At any rate, Apple Security Update 2013-003 is available for download. So far, no obvious signs of a problem during installation.

OS X 10.8.5 Update

Apple released the OS X 10.8.5 Mountain Lion update (287MB) on 12 September 2013. This one appears to fix various network-related issues in terms of improving their performance, and a fix for Apple Mail in which it did not display messages in certain situations.

Unfortunately, no performance increases with OS X itself given the slow speed of this behemoth piece of software. No wonder it needs caches to be created to run the last currently used features of OS X just to make it look like it is fast. But if you haven't used the features yet and need to at any point, the extra waiting for the features to get going would make you wonder why you didn't stick to OS X "Snow Leopard" (and makes one wonder how much faster OS 9 would have been if it could run on the latest Macs). One day Apple will realise that no one really cares about OS X if the company keeps on adding too many features. Something has to give, and people will want something better. It will be like the iPhone 5s where people will wonder, why not have a basic version? People don't need the extra features they rarely if ever use. Well, guess what, Apple decides to introduce the iPhone 5c, a cheaper and simpler version. It seems logical, therefore, it would be reasonable to suggest that at some point OS X will have to go through the same process. So long as people can add the features they want (and not what Apple wants all the time) to make it as powerful as they like, everyone should be able to really enjoy the benefits of a basic OS X that is genuinely fast and compact, a joy to use, and is easy. Come to think of it, iOS on the mobile devices is effectively a stripped down version of OS X except it has been compiled to run on the A7 microprocessor. Re-compile it for Intel processors (all Apple mobiles should be running Intel processors) and effectively the OS should be interchangeable between Macs and Intel iPhones. Add a few more system extensions to expand the features and Mac users can have the OS they've always wanted on a laptop or desktop machine. Or let users add more apps to the stripped-down OS X version and they can have the iPhone they always wanted too. No problems. Then people will no longer have to accept the all or nothing approach from Apple with the extra crap we are getting that most people don't need or use. Just have a secure and fast OS to launch applications and manipulate, watch, or listen to digital data and that's it. What more do users want (or need) to do on a computer these days?

Apart from this, the problem of some occasional files not trashing because they are being used by another application (even though all applications other than the Finder are quit) unless the Finder is forced to quit has not been completely fixed by this update. On closer inspection, it seems the Preview application may now have introduced a small bug where the small dot next to the app's icon in the Dock does not show. So it is harder to tell if the app is running. So, pretend like you are opening Preview for the first time and quit it immediately and usually this will allow you to empty the trash. If not, quit the Finder. And as a last resort, restart the computer.

All other improvements mentioned by Apple for this update are those for MacBook Air (Mid-2013) Software Update 1.0. Otherwise what improvements have been made are always welcome.

As usual, you should run the file permissions repair option in Disk Utility and clear all caches using OnyX after the install (with a full restart) to fix all oddities (e.g., the icons of.dmg files disappearing) and hopefully you should be able to get on with your life (the real one that is!).

OS X 10.8.5 Supplemental Update 1.0

An unusual and rather sudden update from Apple has arrived. Prepared hastily and packed on 2 October 2013, this one for some reason had to be delivered only via Software Update under the Apple menu on your OS X. Makes us wonder why.

In all, the actual supplemental update is 19.1MB called OSXUpd10.8.5Supp.pkg.

So what's the official improvements Apple is prepared to say about this update? We are told the following:

  1. Resolves an issue that may prevent certain applications from using the FaceTime HD camera on mid-2013 MacBook Air systems.
  2. Fixes an issues that may cause external drives to be ejected after the computers goes to sleep.
  3. Addresses an issue that may prevent HDMI audio from working after waking from sleep.
  4. Fixes an issue that may prevent certain USB Bluetooth adapters from working.

Somehow we get the feeling there is something more about this update that Apple is not prepared to say officially. Maybe we will find out soon in the coming months?

OK. With a bit of luck, everything will be hunky-dory from now on.

NOTE: Have you accidentally installed iTunes 11.1 (the full 249MB update with your supplemental update)? It is probably wise for you to consider next time backing up OS X in its current form before applying the updates. If you do, you can boot up into another OS X, and swap the iTunes app from your backup and the various extensions, launch daemon script and other extras across to replace the ones put there by Apple in the iTunes 11.1 update. If you are not sure which ones to copy across from the backup, use a utility like unpkg 4.5 to unpackage your preferred iTunes installer pkg file. Look inside the unpackaged folder and notice the location of all the critical components to run iTunes and where they go in your own OS X. Now drag and drop these components from the backup into OS X 10.8.5 that already has the supplemental update applied. When done, boot up into OS X 10.8.5 and things should be back to normal. If you don't like this approach (you can thank Apple for the way Software Update shows you all updates as a single update option) because it is complicated, we suggest downloading the supplemental update 1.0 from here and apply it normally on your own as it should be done. Much easy we reckon.

Apple Java 6 2013-005

Released as of 16 October 2013 is this update, thought to be essential for improved security and reliability of Java-based apps and Javascripts on web pages.

Oracle Java 7 Update 45

This update for OS X Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks users has been released as of 16 October 2013. For Windows 64-bit machines, download from here.

iMac OS X 10.8.5 Supplemental Update 1.0

A slightly confusing name for an update as users will think, "Hmm? Is this another update for OS X 10.8.5? Surely we have done this already?" If you look more closely, the 'i" in "iMac" tells us this update refers to users with iMacs, and more specifically the late 2013 models containing the NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics chip. If this is you, you must have OS X 10.8.5 for this update to work. The update is 17.9MB in size and was released on 25 October 2013 together with a wide assortment of other updates for various Apple applications in the last week. Maybe a sign that Apple will provide one big update for everything at this time of the year?

Apple Security Update 2014-002

More security improvements. Apple has decided to divide the security updates into three separate updates to cover Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks given the amount of changes Apple has done to each operating system. The easiest is probably to use the Software Update menu to download your particular security update. But if for any reason you lose access to this and need an alternative approach, try this link.

Apple Security Update 2014-004

An update to improve your security. This one has been released on 17 September 2014 and hardly anything is known of what has changed. Question is, will it also introduce bugs to make Mountain Lion and Lion users think they must upgrade their OS X?

OS X bash UNIX shell security bug

A UNIX security bug has been identified on 24 September 2014 in relation to the bash UNIX shell command used by OS X and Linux. The problem, known as the Shellshock security flaw and identified by security experts as CVE-2014-7169, allows third-party hackers to use the bash UNIX shell command to control your OS remotely via an untrusted software application downloaded from the internet and run continuously as a malware daemon app in the background while your computer is online. Apple, Inc. has issued a security patch on 29 September 2014 for three OS X versions to cover this main Shellshock issue and another known as CVE-2014-6271, but not all UNIX Shellshock exploits have been patched according to ZDNet:

"Testing by ZDNet showed that while the patch fixed the issues outlined in the original CVE-2014-6271 report and CVE-2014-7169, OS X remains vulnerable to CVE-2014-7186."

Indeed, there appears to be a number of other Shellshock exploits not mentioned by ZDNet that can be patched right now. And the worse one that will permit more serious remote code execution is identified as CVE-2014-6278. This one has not yet been patched by Apple. In fact, the Apple patch merely raises the UNIX bash version from 3.2.51(1) to 3.2.53(1), but the current and most secure version is now 4.3.27(1). It means Apple has not updated certain open source software components of its OS such as UNIX and its various commands for a long time. Perhaps too much focus on iPhone 6 and iOS8 (and still they have not been tested properly, especially the iPhone 6 Plus, by the company's own Quality Assurance department assuming it does actually exist somewhere deep in some hidden room)? And now with the imminent release of OS X Yosemite, we can see where the company's priorities lie. Fingers crossed (but don't hold your breath) that Apple will soon provide a complete and user-friendly security patch. Alternatively, here is the manual method of updating to the latest bash shell script command for OS X "Lion" and higher versions (please note that this method does work on OS X Snow Leopard):

  1. Download bash-4.3.27-10.4u.zip.
  2. Uncompress the ZIP file.
  3. Move the file bash-4.3.27-10.4u to the home directory folder you are currently logged into (it will be in your Users folder). Remember, you must have Admin access for the next steps to work.
  4. Open Terminal.app in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder.
  5. Type the following UNIX shell commands in the order shown to back up your current bash and sh commands and copy the new file into the right location, and make sure you make no spelling mistakes:

    exec tcsh
    chmod +x bash-4.3.27-10.4u
    sudo mv /bin/bash /bin/bash_old
    sudo cp bash-4.3.27-10.4u /bin/bash
    sudo mv /bin/sh /bin/sh_old
    sudo cp bash-4.3.27-10.4u /bin/sh
    bash --version
  6. You should see the version of bash has been updated to 4.3.27(1).
  7. As a further test, type:

    env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable' bash -c "echo this is a test"
  8. You should see the text "this is a test" and nothing else. If it says "vulnerable", it means you have not applied the patch correctly. Try again.
  9. Restart your computer.
  10. Delete bash-4.3.27-10.4u from the home directory folder (you don't need it anymore).
  11. In Finder, choose Go to Folder under the Go menu. Type /bin and press the Go button. Now trash the bash_old and sh_old files, restart the computer, and empty the trash.

Now you should have the highest security protection available at this time.

If you intend to use this basic Apple patch or the above complete manual patch method, remember that it will only be useful if your computer regularly accesses the internet and especially if you host various network services using Apache as well download and run various software applications. Even if you do not apply the patch, Apple claims the default settings of OS X has already provided reasonable protection to Mac users, so it isn't critical. It is only for those advanced UNIX users with serious network needs that ought to apply the patch. As an Apple spokesperson said:

"Bash, a UNIX command shell and language included in OS X, has a weakness that could allow unauthorized users to remotely gain control of vulnerable systems. With OS X, systems are safe by default and not exposed to remote exploits of bash unless users configure advanced UNIX services. We are working to quickly provide a software update for our advanced UNIX users."

The support provided by Apple to patch this security issue only goes back to OS X Lion. OS X Snow Leopard users will miss out. Here are the download locations (3.2MB file size):

  1. OS X Lion security patch.
  2. OS X Mountain Lion security patch.
  3. OS X Mavericks security patch.
  4. OS X Yosemite should receive the abovementioned full manual fix of the latest bash version. But if not, Apple has mentioned providing some kind of a fix to this issue in the Yosemite Gold Master 2 edition. Therefore, the final official 1.0 release to the public when it comes out before the end of 2014 will have the same fix applied.

Not much information is revealed publicly by the company about the security bug from the Apple web page (OS X Mountain Lion, OS X Lion, OS X Mavericks), but you can learn more from here.

Security Update 2014-005

This update was made available by Apple on 22 October 2014.

Apple describes this update as:

Impact: An attacker may be able to decrypt data protected by SSL

Description: There are known attacks on the confidentiality of SSL 3.0 when a cipher suite uses a block cipher in CBC mode. An attacker could force the use of SSL 3.0, even when the server would support a better TLS version, by blocking TLS 1.0 and higher connection attempts. This issue was addressed by disabling CBC cipher suites when TLS connection attempts fail.

But then Apple added the OS X bash Update 1.0 that does not provide the latest bash script update. It means you will have to manually do the update of the proper and latest script as described above. Unless Apple can do the work properly, don't bother trying to mix together outdated security patches with the latest security fixes. Apple is acting like it has no idea or is just plain lazy, or it has its own agenda of how people's computers should be updated.

OS X NTX Network Time Security Fix

A security fix has been released since 22 December 2014 for the ntpd time grabbing network service. The problem relates to the way "an attacker [might send arbitrary code through the NTP network] to trigger buffer overflows".. For Mountain Lion users, you can download from here. Mind you, the likelihood of getting attacked through the NTP server is extremely slim if users merely turn on the NTP service on OS X for a few seconds to update date and time and then turn it off. The NTP service is not meant to be left on permanently while users are online. But then again, there are some users who prefer everything to be simple and fully automatic and constantly checking online for the most accurate information just to ensure time is accurate to a tiny fraction of a second as if it would make a difference in their lives (we certainly don't want users to miss out on that all-important meeting).

Security Update 2015-001

It is good to see Apple is capable of finding more security-related issues with OS X. The same security issues were already patched up in the OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 Update which includes Security Update 2015-001 with the added improvements made to Safari via the OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 update component. While no one else can benefit from the Safari improvements, at least it is nice to see Apple has seen the light in fixing up other security issues in the system files under OS X Mavericks and Mountain Lion through this Security Update 2015-001 (169MB).

Cheers.

Security Update 2015-004

It is good to see Apple is capable of finding more security-related issues with OS X. The same security issues were already patched up in the OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 Update which includes Security Update 2015-001 with the added improvements made to Safari via the OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 update component. While no one else can benefit from the Safari improvements, at least it is nice to see Apple has seen the light in fixing up other security issues in the system files under OS X Mavericks and Mountain Lion through this Security Update 2015-001 (169MB).

Cheers.

Security Update 2015-004

Security Update released on 10 April 2015 (already included in the OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 update) targets a wide variety of vulnerabilities to Apache, HTTP Protocol, WebKit, the Kernel of OS X, Screen Sharing, Admin Framework (to prevent unauthorised access to your OS X and personal files as an Admin user without proper authentication) and enhancing the security of various network-related certificates when gaining access to servers in a secure manner. Other security holes found in FontParser, NVIDIA graphics driver, and hypervisor framework are plugged up, and there is a reasonable effort to minimise memory corruption when handling the graphics file format SGI.

The biggest vulnerability fixed by this update relates to an unpublished OS X API used by system processes. A user with the right knowledge and logged in as a non-admin account can exploit this API to gain admin rights, where the user can manipulate OS X files, applications and personal files of other users. Noted by TrueSec's Emil Kvarnhammar in October 2014, all OS X versions from 10.7 and up contain this vulnerability. OS X Snow Leopard users are safe and will not need the update.

As a result of this vulnerability, Apple requested Kvarnhammar not to disclose the details until Apple had a fix. As Apple stated to Kvarnhammar, Apple needed this extra time "due to the amount of changes required in OS X". This explains the amount of fixes mentioned above.

At first Apple intended to provide the security update only for OS X Yosemite, as TrueSec reported:

"Apple indicated that this issue required a substantial amount of changes on their side, and that they will not back port the fix to 10.9.x and older."

Wisely, Apple changed its mind and have provided the fix for older systems. The fact that TrueSec even revealed this interesting insight tells us that Apple is in trouble with OS X Yosemite — not enough users have made the upgrade — and Apple is doing all it can to entice users to upgrade by nearly any cunning means possible.

Not necessary but thrown in for good measure, the update also provides a fix for those hackers able to bypass the Code Signing process in order to run applications. These people will face new restrictions as a result.

And while you are updating your OS, it is probably worth checking that you have the latest Safari (if you are a fan of this browser), which is version 6.2.5.