OS X Mountain Lion bug causing application crashes

Published 
4 Feb 2013
Apple Macbook Pro Retina

OS X Mountain Lion appears to be suffering from a bug that means a simple text string is enough to bring a Mac to its knees

A bug in Apple's OS X operating system software can make almost any application crash, simply by writing or viewing a simple line of text.

Simply typing "File:" followed by three slash signs - which we won't recreate in full here, in deference to anyone who may be browsing on an Apple device - is enough to crash most software running on OS X Mountain Lion, the newest version of Apple's desktop and laptop operating system. Interestingly, those running an older release such as OS X Lion or OS X Snow Leopard are not affected by the flaw.

While typing the characters are the most common way to trigger the flaw, it's also possible to crash an application simply by opening a file that contains the string. Loading a text file with the string will crash the text viewer application, for example, while loading a crash log from the flaw in Apple's error reporter will, ironically, crash the crash log viewer.

The bug, which exists within the OS X operating system itself, also affects third-party applications, which crash if they use the 'NSTextFields' functionality of the underlying operating system. While not all apps choose to use this system, many do - and it's these that are vulnerable to crashing should the system encounter the surprisingly deadly text string.

Thus far, Apple has not commented on the flaw or on a proposed timescale for the vulnerability to be patched, but a work-around exists in the form of entering the System Preferences menu, choosing Language & Text, and unticking the Correct Spelling Automatically and Use Symbol and Text Substitution boxes from the Text screen. This, however, does disable automatic correction of spelling mistakes and typos - but resolves the crashing problem until Apple releases an official fix for the flaw.

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