apple-mail-iconI recently started experiencing an issue with Apple’s Mail application – every time I would select an email with an attachment, Mail would freeze for a few seconds before shutting down with the standard “unexpected quit” error dialog. I originally suspected corrupt emails, thinking back to issues with corrupt emails crashing Entourage if the Preview pane was enabled. Except that this time Mail would crash on EVERY email with an attachment – & there was no way that every email coming in was getting corrupted.

I cleared caches, rebuilt the mail index, removed Mail’s plist, even repaired permissions – all for nothing.

I finally stumbled onto a thread on the Apple Discussions forum suggesting that Mail might not be the correct version for the OS that I was running (10.5.7) & that the 10.5.7 combo updater should be re-installed.

Sure enough, here’s the version I was running when Mail was crashing:

Mailv3

And here’s the version that SHOULD be running under 10.5.7:

Mailv3.6How does this happen?

I had recently performed an archive & install on my laptop & being my overly cautious self, I hadn’t deleted the old System files (the Previous System folder). Turns out that when I ran the 10.5.7 combo updater after doing the archive & install, the combo updater actually updated the files in the previous System folder, not the newly installed System files!!!

The fix? Move the Previous System folder to the trash & re-run the 10.5.7 combo updater. Suddenly Mail is v3.6 & everything runs flawlessly again!

Thanks to Ernie Stamper on the Apple Discussions board for identifying this deceptive (& peculiar) bug!

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beachballWe’ve all seen & experienced the frustration of OS X’s rainbow-coloured beach ball (frequently referred to as the Spinning Beach Ball). Applications stop responding & sometimes the entire system seems to grind to a halt once the cursor has changed into that seemingly cheery multi-coloured ball.

Despite the friendly colours, there’s really nothing pleasant about the appearance of this particular icon, & the frustration of losing control of your applications (or entire computer) is compounded by the fact that it’s never really clear just exactly what is going on & why things are locking up in the first place.

Unfortunately, there’s no single solution to this particular issue. The beach ball can be a symptom of any number of issues & the possible solutions are as varied as the symptoms. So what is happening that causes the ball to appear? & how can we minimize its occurance?

What can cause the Spinning Beach Ball

Basically, the cursor will change from the regular pointer into the multi-coloured ball any time that the processor (CPU) finds itself waiting for a response, whether from the operating system, an application or a piece of hardware. The changing cursor is meant to inform users that the CPU is stuck waiting for a response from somewhere & cannot continue until it receives one. (Please note, this is a very basic breakdown of the issue, & not at all a proper technical description!!!)

There are a number of potential causes for this system ‘hang’ & the solutions vary, depending on the cause although they can be broken down into 3 basic categories: hardware, operating system, & application. Follow the links below for more information…

Hardware Causes (coming soon…)

Network Causes (coming soon…)

Application Causes (coming soon…)