Serious bugs remaining in Monterey: a working list

This article details serious bugs remaining in macOS 12.5 Monterey. If Apple is true to the pattern set in Big Sur, and in previous years, this is the last version of Monterey to receive regular bug fixes, before it goes into its two-year maintenance period, during which it’s only likely to receive fixes to security vulnerabilities. In other words, if Apple hasn’t fixed it now, it’s very unlikely to do so in the future, unless security is at stake.

This is particularly important for Monterey, as so many Macs haven’t made the cut to be officially supported by Ventura. That high-end Mac Pro you bought in mid-2019, or the well-used MacBook Pro 15-inch you bought in early 2017 are both casualties, and will be stuck with Monterey until the end of their days. While some of these models may be able to run Ventura using third-party software such as OpenCore Legacy Patcher, that may bring its own limitations.

The aim of this working list is to make clear what the penalties are in staying with Monterey, for those who choose not to upgrade, or whose Macs aren’t supported.

By serious bugs I mean those that are disruptive across several or all Mac models, causing kernel panics, forced restarts, or other major measures to deal with their consequences. These aren’t annoyances, however persistent or pervasive, but have significant consequences to your Mac. They also need to be fairly repeatable by other users, not something that happens when the planets align a certain way, unless of course they’re devastating in their effect, causing restarts, data loss, etc.

I’ll start with the remaining widely experienced memory leak, affecting the Finder’s Find feature. Please suggest your own, bearing in mind what’s serious to others.

Memory leak in the Finder’s Find feature

Effect: Finder memory use grows, as does its CPU %, until the Mac grinds to a halt and may freeze.

Cause: Open a Finder window, use the File/Find command to change it to a search window. Successively enter short (1-3 letter) search terms in the Search box. In the right circumstances, memory used by the Finder and its CPU % will climb with each search term, until CPU sticks at about 100% and memory use can exceed 5 GB. When the window is closed, those don’t reduce. The only way to restore the Finder’s normal memory and CPU use is to relaunch it.

Exacerbating factors: This is most likely to occur on Macs with multiple and large Spotlight indexes; on minimal macOS installations, such as VMs, this isn’t likely to occur. It’s almost certain when those short search terms result in very large numbers of hits, when each search takes so long to complete that the next search has started before the previous one has finished.

Macs affected: All models, Intel and Apple silicon.

Workarounds: use third-party substitutes for searching for files.

Further details: this article.

Content caching server update install failure

Effect: Certain security updates supplied through a Content Caching server persistently fail to install on clients.

Cause: When security data updates including XProtect, XProtect ‘Remediator’ and MRT are pushed by Apple, clients connecting to a local Content Caching server successfully download updates, but they invariably fail to install.

Exacerbating factors: None known. This only affects security data updates, not macOS or App Store updates.

Macs affected: Clients, all models, Intel and Apple silicon. Servers, Intel models, Apple silicon not known.

Workarounds: Disable or shut down the server before updating clients. Once all clients have been successfully updated direct from Apple’s update servers, the server can be enabled again.

Further details: this article and comments.

Are these deliberate?

Several final releases of major versions of OS X and macOS have been left with serious bugs, and this naturally gives rise to the suspicion that this might be done deliberately to ‘encourage’ users to upgrade to that next major version. I think that is a misinterpretation, and not something that Apple’s engineers would encourage.

A good example of this was a serious bug in Time Machine which is still present in Sierra, despite being reported to Apple over six months before the release of High Sierra, which brought its fix. The bug was deep-seated, in the DAS-CTS dispatching system, which was being rewritten for the next release of macOS. Because this cut across a lot of sub-systems in macOS, it proved impossible to address during the full support period of Sierra.

Of course such problems are exacerbated by the short development cycle of each major release of macOS. On the other hand, that also ensures that the next version does usually fix those bugs. With longer development cycles, some bugs could well take longer to fix, although those fixes would be released in the same rather than the next major release.

I look forward to your contributions, please.