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10.6.7 and Open Type Fonts – A Dangerous Combination

“What do you get when you cross a font geek and the latest Snow Leopard update?” It sounds like the beginning of a really lame joke, but it’s exactly what some of us went through last week after applying the 10.6.7 Software Update.

Apple’s forums are filled with threads like this one about people having problems with various applications, most notably Adobe apps and PDF production, though it was noted to pop up in other places as well. It seems that it’s somehow tied to OpenType fonts and Apple’s implementation of the PostScript rendering engine.

With my affinity for type, it was surprising that I didn’t notice this right away. It was even more surprising how I came across the error. Apparently, font rendering in Motion (and, by extension, Final Cut Pro) is handled in a similar way as printing, so as I was rendering out one of our instructional videos, the text fields came out with missing letters.

After some reading about other people’s problems, I conducted a few very informal tests and came to the conclusion that the problem had to be in Apple’s rendering engines; non-Apple apps I tried had no problems printing. However, as the font we use in our videos is an OpenType font, and we use Final Cut (an Apple application) for editing/rendering, we still needed a solution. Unfortunately, the only effective solution we could find was to go back to 10.6.6.

Rolling my System back to 10.6.6 really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. After carefully making a clone of my drive, I booted to my 10.6 Install disk and began the reinstallation process.

I was surprised to find that 10.6 lets you simply install an earlier version over a later version; there’s no need for an “Archive and Install” like with earlier OS X versions. As I had a copy of my system to fall back on, I selected my main boot drive and installed 10.6.0 right over the 10.6.7 that currently existed on that drive. After rebooting (thankfully skipping that annoying “first startup” movie), I was able to log in and everything was where it was before. I ran Software Update, making sure to deselect the option to run the 10.6.7 Combo updater.

Once those updates were installed, I went to Apple’s Web site, downloaded the 10.6.6 Combo updater and installed it. After restarting again, I once again opened Software Update, selected the 10.6.7 update, and chose to ignore it via the Update menu.

Hopefully, 10.6.8 will come out quickly to address this font issue. There are far too many professionals who who use OpenType fonts on a daily basis for this problem to go unresolved. If we’re going to lose compatibility with fonts, let’s make sure it’s one that no one will miss. You know… like Comic Sans.

ADDENDUM: April 27, 2011

Good news, everybody. Looks like Apple has gotten around to issuing a patch that should resolved the issue. It fixed the problems with Motion we were having here. Hopefully, it’ll work for you guys, too. Check out our follow-up post for more info.

OWC Chris S.
the authorOWC Chris S.
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  • Got bit with that as well — problem is that, like A.D. above, I did the specialized “Early 2011 MacBook Pro” update and am a bit leery about a downgrade. Here’s hoping Apple gets on the ball and fixes this.

    Currently, I have to restart from time to time and do an “applejack AUTO restart” (thanks OWC Jamie); amongst other things this clears font caches and things run normally for a while. But if I let it go, the unresponsiveness is mind-boggling. It will take me a solid 10 minutes to actually get everything quit and restart (continual beachballs before the system finally responds to commands).

  • Will This affect The early 2011 Macbook pro with the Ati fix if you go back to 10.6.6 .

  • I had a problem with 6.7 update with my mac pro….after the update it would no longer shut down with the ethernet cable connected to my network.