Resolving Problems with OS X 10.11.4
While most Mac users have been able to update to OS X 10.11.4 without an issue, some users are experiencing a few particularly frustrating issues with the update. The most common issues are; Mac apps are unable to launch and the apps report they are damaged, Mac application icons show as generic and are unable to open or fail to open, the Mac suddenly freezes for no apparent reason, or a particularly alarming scenario where all applications and user files are missing from view, making it appear as if the Mac removed all of its own files.
These issues appear to impact a variety of users, but not everyone who has installed the OS X 10.11.4 update has been effected. Updating Mac OS X with the Combo Update for 10.11.4 seems to produce a more reliable experience than installing through the App Store, but reports suggest that both types of software update may lead to an impacted Mac. The inconsistency with the troubled El Capitan updates are similar to the problems with iOS 9.3 in that they have manifested for some iPhone and iPad users but not for others.
Mac Apps Aren’t Launching, or Mac Apps Report They Are Damaged After OS X 10.11.4 Update
Some users have discovered that none of their Mac applications are launching and instead they report they are damaged. While we strongly advocate deleting temporary /private/var/ folders the safe way with a reboot, which may resolve the issue alone, some users have reported that a reboot with impacted versions of OS X 10.11.4 does not adequately clear those cache folders and instead manually deleting some of the files can result in a functional OS X app launching process again.
We’re going to leave this process intentionally less verbose because we are unable to test it ourselves and can’t vouch for it’s effectiveness, therefore it should only be performed by technically advanced users who make a thorough backup of their Mac with Time Machine beforehand. A few variations of this trick was found on Apple discussion forums, and it involves using the command line to manually remove user cache directories from the /private/var/ — again, something we do not recommend, but some users on Apple forums have reported success with.
- Reboot the Mac into Safe Mode and launch the Terminal application (you may need to create a separate Admin account and reboot and log into that admin account instead if even Terminal.app won’t launch)
- Enter the following at the command line: cd /private/var/folders/
- Identify the directories within this folder (ignoring the zz folder) belonging to the problematic user with this command: ls -al
- Once the problematic user folders have been identified, delete the folder(s) owned by that user with the “rm” command
Rebooting the Mac again as usual appears to resolve the issue for some, as reported on the Apple discussion boards.
All Mac Application Icons Show as Generic
Some users have discovered their Mac Applications all show up as generic icons, both in the Dock and in the Finder of OS X.
This can be remedied with the following command line syntax:
Then restart the Mac as usual from the Apple menu.
This forces the Finder cache to rebuild, and the application icons will appear as normal again.
Mac is running slow after updating to OS X 10.11.4
This is typically easily resolved by doing the following; nothing. Do nothing for a while. Say what?? What kind of advice is doing nothing? Let me explain: when you update system software, several under-the-hood processes perform on first boot and must complete, this includes the mds indexing engine behind Spotlight search and a few other system functions as well. Simply let these processes run their course, do not try to intervene and stop them otherwise they will simply start again the next time you reboot the Mac. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to have Spotlight complete indexing of a Mac, so have patience.
Mac is randomly freezing after OS X 10.11.4
Some Mac users have discovered their computer is freezing, crashing, or rebooting at random since updating to OS X 10.11.4, behavior that did not occur prior to installing the update.
The random system freezing issue is incredibly annoying and I have encountered it multiple times myself on one MacBook Pro since updating it to OS X 10.11.4 using a Combo Update. This is not a subtle problem, the Mac freezes completely and becomes unresponsive to any keystroke, the mouse won’t move, and nothing works at all. It requires a force reboot to get the frozen Mac to respond again.
The freezing problem seems to arrive from Safari, but what specifically causes the freezes and crashes does not seem to be consistent enough to identify.
One workaround is to use Chrome for a while instead. Another option is to manually force quit the Safari processes which are either showing as “not responding” within Activity Monitor, or are consuming high system resources.
Being diligent about the Safari web processes seems to offer a way to avoid the complete system freeze ups, but it’s hardly a solution. Using the Chrome browser instead is reasonable for some users, but not a solution for others. A future bug fix update will likely address any underlying issues here, but who knows when it will arrive.
Safari crashes or freezes since OS X 10.11.4
Some users have noticed that Safari crashes or beachballs often after installing OS X 10.11.4, or in some cases as mentioned above, the Safari problem seems to turn systemwide and freeze the entire Mac. It is unclear what exactly the problem is, but for users who have been impacted by this issue, the Safari crashes and freezes did not occur prior to the update to OS X 10.11.4.
Clearing the Safari history and cache has shown to help some users, as does reducing the total number of tabs and windows in use concurrently. Unfortunately for some, the freezing, crashing, or beachball problem seems to quickly resurface on certain webpages even with Safari browsers that do not have any plugins or extensions installed.
Some users are also seeing an increase in the number of “Safari Web Content quit unexpectedly” error messages, which indicates that a Safari tab or browser window has crashed.
A workaround if Safari is persistently problematic is to use Chrome browser, or Firefox browser.
Safari beachballs constantly in OS X 10.11.4, web pages don’t load
Another less than fun situation with Safari in OS X 10.11.4 is an abnormally frequent beachballing, where web pages either don’t load at all or freeze up. Eventually, this often crashes the web browser, or you have to manually intervene and use Activity Monitor to quit the errant Safari process in question.
For those who do venture into Activity Monitor to try and remedy the Safari freezing up problem, users will sometimes find “Safari Web Content (Not Responding)” on the problematic tab or browser window, which can be killed directly. Unfortunately often times you will see the endless beachball cursor even without an obvious errant browser tab to target.
This is another situation where using Chrome or Firefox browsers as alternatives are reasonable, if not annoying workarounds.
Other troubleshooting options
If all else fails and the Mac is completely nonfunctional regardless of what you have tried with OS X 10.11.4, you’re left with two options:
- Reinstall OS X on the Mac with Recovery Mode, this will reinstall only the system software itself
- Or, perhaps a better option for some users, is to restore from a Time Machine backup made prior to installing the problematic OS X 10.11.4 update if things were working fine beforehand, thus reverting back to OS X 10.11.3 or whatever prior release was running
Have you had any trouble with OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 update? Has your Mac been working better or worse since the update? Have you resolved the problems with these tips or others? Let us know your experiences in the comments.