Bugs & Fixes: Troubleshooting advice and Mac OS X 10.5.3

Let’s tackle two separate troubleshooting tips, both related in some way to the just-released Mac OS X 10.5.3 update.

Photoshop file corruption and 10.5.3?

When confronting any significant update, such as OS X 10.5.3, a common recommendation is to wait until at least a few days after the update’s release before installing it yourself. Instead, let those who prefer to live on the bleeding edge be your guinea pigs. That way, should there be a serious bug in the update (presumably undetected during beta testing), you can find out about it before becoming a victim of it.

In the case of Mac OS X 10.5.3, whose almost entire raison d’être is to eradicate bugs in 10.5.2, the odds are low that it would also add significant new bugs. Low… but not zero.

Well, a week has now passed—and the verdict on Mac OS X 10.5.3 is positive. There are very few reports of new bugs. However, an apparent variant of an old bug has resurfaced: Using Photoshop CS3 and Mac OS X 10.5.3, if you save a Photoshop file to a network volume, the file may become corrupt to the point that you can no longer open it. This symptom may extend to other CS3 programs.

Of course, one could reasonably argue that this is more of a problem with Adobe’s software than Apple’s OS. Actually, the symptom first cropped up after the release of Mac OS X 10.4.6 (Tiger). At that time, Adobe stated: “Mac OS X v10.4.6 uses newer AppleShare components which conflict with Photoshop when you save a file to a server. Adobe does not support opening from or saving a file to a server, because of potential file corruption.”

Still, the Tiger-Photoshop bug didn’t affect all users. The “new” problem now is that updating to Mac OS X 10.5.3 may cause the symptom for some users who never had it before.

The simplest work-around is to avoid the bug altogether by saving your Photoshop files locally instead of over a network. For more advice and background, read this article on the subject of OS X 10.5.3 and Photoshop at ITWire.

Trash your cache

One of the more commonly recommended general troubleshooting techniques is to delete the various cache files on your drive. Doing this can remove unwanted or corrupt settings that an application otherwise continues to use. Interestingly, I received three e-mails from readers in the past week describing various Internet-related symptoms, from problems with Mail to crashes in iChat. In all cases, before writing me, they had contacted Apple Support for advice. Apple offered the same advice to all three: Trash your cache!

In particular, Apple Support advised going to the Library/Caches folder of the home directory and deleting its contents. This was not the totality of Apple’s advice, but it was a key component. Of course, the cache trashing did not succeed in fixing these particular problems—or the readers would not have written me. Still, Apple clearly keeps this technique in its troubleshooting arsenal.

As it turns out, there are other ways to delete cache files, beyond dragging them to the trash in the Finder. In particular, several third-party utilities will delete cache files with little more than a click of the mouse. In addition, they offer options as to what subsets of your caches you might want to delete.

Two such utilities are Cocktail and Leopard Cache Cleaner. However, be warned: if you’ve updated to Mac OS X 10.5.3, make sure you also update to the latest versions of these utilities. Both of them have new versions, required for compatibility with Mac OS X 10.5.3. For example, Cocktail 4.1.1, released right after OS X 10.5.3, “fixes a bug causing Mac OS X 10.5.3 to freeze during clearing of the system caches and addresses compatibility issues with Automator 2.0.1.”

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