Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.4

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As if a new Mac mini and iPhone pre-orders weren’t enough, Apple on Tuesday also announced the release of Mac OS X 10.6.4, the latest update to its Snow Leopard operating system. The update includes a variety of enhancements, stability improvements, and security fixes that are recommended for all users.

Apple details three types of of updates contained in Mac OS X 10.6.4: general fixes and improvements, fixes and improvements for Aperture 3, and fixes and improvements for external devices.

Those who plan to purchase one of the new Mac minis will be especially interested, as Apple has dropped a pair of special 10.6.4 updates for Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server pertaining to the new desktop model. They address two specific issues: improved compatibility and performance for graphics issues and better compatibility with larger format SDXC memory cards, no doubt for the mini's new SD card slot.

General fixes in 10.6.4 include improved compatibility with some Braille displays; a fix for a problem where the keyboard or trackpad becomes unresponsive; more reliable VPN connections; a fix for a display sleep issue and a speaker volume issue in MacBook Pros (Early 2010); better copying, renaming, or deleting files on SMB servers; and several more. Safari 5, released last week, is also included in the package.

Aperture 3 gets a pair of improvements: the addition of tethered shooting support for more digital cameras and a fix for compatibility issues with IPTC metadata.

External devices also reap a few rewards under Mac OS X 10.6.4, including RAW image compatibility for additional digital cameras, a fix for a problem with third-party USB Webcams, a fix for a noise problem when using third-party FireWire audio devices, and resolution for pairing problems with Apple remotes.

Apple also released Mac OS X Server 10.6.4 on Tuesday, with improvements for Wiki Server, Software Update Server, vacation mail notices spanning multiple days, improved reliability of VPN connections, and more. The update is recommended for all current users of Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server.

Also incorporated in both the client and server versions of 10.6.4 are a number of security patches. Included are an updated version of the Flash Player plug-in that patches multiple issues, several printing related fixes, an updated version of Webmail client SquirrelMail, a pair of fixes for ImageIO related to maliciously crafted media files, and a patch for iChat that fixes a vulnerability that allowed the arbitrary uploading of files onto a remote filesystem. The same security patches are also available for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Server as a separate download, Security Update 2010-004.

Mac OS X 10.6.4 and Mac OS X Server 10.6.4 are available via Software Update and via Apple’s support downloads page as well; both are available as straight updates or combo updates (incorporating previous updates as well).

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Generally faster than Leopard
    • Most applications run in 64-bit mode
    • Rudimentary malware checking
    • Supports Exchange
    • Improvements to Exposé and Dock


    • Many features won’t truly be exploited until Mac hardware evolves
    • Lackluster QuickTime Player update
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