Bugs & Fixes: From Mail crashes to HTML5 video failures

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It’s bargain day at Bugs & Fixes. This week’s column offers three separate items for the price of one.

Mail crashes after launch

On my friend’s iMac (running Leopard at the time), the Mail app would repeatedly crash about 20 seconds after launch. None of the commonly-suggested fixes were of any help. Launch Mail with the Shift key held down? Nada. Delete Mail-related cache files? No effect. Use Disk First Aid to fix permissions? Useless.

As for the Rebuild command in Mail’s Mailbox menu, even if my friend had had time to select it before the program crashed, it wouldn’t have mattered. The item was grayed out.

Checking logs in Console turned up a message that offered a helpful clue:

MailApp _synchronouslyTellSyncServicesToRegisterAndSync] *** terminating app due to uncaught exception ‘NSGenericException’, reason 1 executing ‘rollback transaction; ‘:cannot rollback - no transaction is active’

The phrase “SyncServices” suggested to me that resetting the SyncServices folder might be worth a try. As my friend was still using MobileMe, my first action was to turn off Mail syncing from the Sync pane of MobileMe System Preferences. Next, I reset SyncServices (as described in this Apple support article). I then re-enabled MobileMe syncing.

I wasn’t counting on this working; I was getting a bit desperate to find a solution by this point. But work it did. The Mail crashes were gone!

Cursor disappears in full-screen video

An Apple Support Communities thread describes a problem where, after playing video in fullscreen mode in OS X 10.7 Lion, the screen pointer/cursor disappears. Typically, the pointer remains MIA even after exiting fullscreen mode. This is especially likely to happen after playing video in iTunes.

Although I couldn’t find any postings that showed how to prevent the vanishing from happening, several posts offered quick solutions for getting the pointer to return. In one case, going to Mission Control did the trick. Another solution was to switch apps via the Command-Tab listing. A third work-around was to drag the mouse/trackpad until the invisible (but still functional) cursor winds up in the top left of the screen; if you click to drop down the Apple menu, the cursor returns.

HTML5 video fails to play

When I click to play HTML5 videos in Safari on my Mac, they often fail to play (here’s one example). A message appears that says the video is “Loading…” but it never moves beyond that stage.

Fortunately, working around the problem is fairly easy. First off, the glitch happens only in Safari. If I shift to either Firefox or Google Chrome, the videos play just fine.

If you prefer to stick with Safari, you can still get the videos to play. One potential solution is to access the contextual menu for the video and select “Restore Flash,” if available. The Flash version of the video will now play.

Otherwise, to get the HTML5 video working, go to the same contextual menu and select “Inspect Element.” In the output that appears, a line of text should be automatically highlighted.

Within this line may be a src link to the video. If not, search for an src link in nearby text. Once located, bring up the contextual menu for the link and select “Open Link in New Tab.” The video should now play (the inspiration for this tip came from this webpage).

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