Apple released OS X 10.7.3 on 2/1/12, and I am now officially recommending it for most of our clients running Lion or Lion Server (*see exception below). If you jumped the gun and updated to 10.7.3 within a few days of it being released, or if you plan on pushing out 10.7.3 remotely to a large number of Macs, make sure to read this entire article.

*There is a bug with QuarkXPress 9 when run under OS X 10.7.3 that causes icons in the application palettes to disappear, and Quark tech support is currently stating “we cannot recommend to update OS X to 10.7.3 and recommend to stay with 10.7.2 where the problem does not exist”. Read more here: http://forums.quark.com/t/27741.aspx

The 10.7.3 update is one of Apple’s sloppiest releases that I can recall. As the norm, Apple initially released a 730MB Delta update (for those already running 10.7.2) and a 1.3GB Combo update. A large number of people that downloaded and applied the Delta update through Software Update experienced major problems, including: severe video redraw issues, CUI errors, and random crashes. I’ve seen these problems firsthand, and can confirm the 10.7.3 Delta update was buggy.

Apple pulled the 10.7.3 Delta update on 2/4/12 without any explanation. Those who were crippled by the Delta update found their problems could be fixed by downloading and re-applying the 10.7.3 Combo update (booting into Safe Boot mode first if the display was too garbled to read).

So you would think that Apple would simply fix the problems with the 10.7.3 Delta update, then re-release it with a revised version (they’ve done this in the past with other botched updates). They haven’t, and at this point I don’t anticipate that they will. This means the only way to update to 10.7.3 is using the Combo updater. This may not seem like the end of the world, but if it’s your job to deploy updates to a large number of Macs, it can really complicate things (the Combo is almost twice the size of the Delta, and pushing out multiple 1.3GB files remotely can easily overwhelm slower internet connections).

And the story doesn’t end there. When Apple pulled the 10.7.3 Delta update, they also silently revised the 10.7.3 Combo update. The Combo update initially released on 2/1/12 had a different size and checksum than the one currently available, but the two have the exact same version.

So what this all boils down to is… If you haven’t already updated to Mac OS X 10.7.3, go ahead and do so now if you aren’t using QuarkXPress 9. If you updated to Mac OS X 10.7.3 prior to 2/5/12, it would be a good idea to download and re-apply the Mac OS X 10.7.3 Combo update available on Apple’s site, regardless if you’re experiencing problems or not.