Preparing for the 10.9.3 update

InstallMavericksIconXThe developer seed builds for the upcoming 10.9.3 update for Mavericks have become more frequent, suggesting Apple is wrapping up the last few bugs that testers have found for this version of OS X and the public release of the update should be coming very soon.

In addition to the standard bug fixes and tweaks, this update comes with a couple of new features for managing contacts and calendars on your iPhone with iTunes. An ongoing frustration some people have had with Apple’s iPhone is its requirement to use iCloud for syncing local calendar and contact entries, with no apparent workaround available. With the 10.9.3 update, Apple has answered these frustrations and implemented a way to do this in iTunes without needing to use iCloud.

Now to manage your contacts and calendars, you simply have to select your iPhone in iTunes, and then select which contact groups or calendars to sync in your phone’s Info tab in iTunes, provided you have disabled iCloud syncing in your iPhone’s settings.

As with most updates, there is no need to go overboard in preparation, such as running full permissions repair, drive verification, and system cleaning routines. While it likely will not hurt to perform these tasks, provided everything is running well before you update, then you should only need to consider two points before updating:

  1. Backup 

    Backup your system using Time Machine or a system cloning tool. If you do not have one of these set up, then I recommend you do so as soon as possible and regularly back up your system to it. If you do not have your backup regularly updated, then now should be the time to get it connected and start updating it.

  2. Wait a bit
    Consider waiting a few days before installing 10.9.3 when it comes out. As with all updates, even though Apple rigorously tests it with a huge developer community, and now a testing community that has expanded to include the general public, there is a chance that a bug or two will make it through the pipeline. Therefore, give it a few days or a week, and check the Apple discussion boards for any outstanding issues that people seem to have. Note that there will always be some problem folks have, and that the Apple discussions are a place where people go to ask for help, so it is not always the best gauge for whether or not an update is problem-free; however, if the same error begins occurring regularly for many different people, then this could be indicative of a bug that you might wish to avoid, especially if it is in an area of the OS that you use.

12 thoughts on “Preparing for the 10.9.3 update

  1. Nelson

    +1 to the recommendation to wait a bit. In fact, I am still on Mountain Lion because I wait until an xx.3 release of any Mac OS version before upgrading. By the time 10.9.3 comes out the most egregious new-OS bugs have been addressed, and pretty much all software has been adapted for it (something very relevant for music-related apps).

  2. Ed S.

    I’d like to add to Go For 10.9.3 Combo Updater, never the partial, Delta. Although larger in size, the Combo Update tends to replace everything from 10.9 up to 10.9.3. And backup or clone “prior” incase there is some unique incompatibility.

  3. Strod

    Topher, Topher, TOPHER!!!

    You were supposed to keep the part of “wait a bit” to your self, not make it a public recommendation!

    You see, if most people “wait a bit” then the number of early adopters that test the update first is reduced radically, defeating the purpose of waiting.

    We actually need as many early adopters as possible taking the risk so that all wrinkles get ironed out by the time we cautious users (aka “the cowards”) finally take the plunge.

    And I’m sure that many of the readers of MacIssues are precisely the kind of adventurous users who would jump into the upgrade just to check what’s new. Don’t discourage them!

    1. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

      You’re kidding, right? In any case, Topher has proffered this advice before so this is not a new thing. And, sadly, I suspect that Topher has far fewer readers than when he was contributing to MacFixIt. Even then, the number of people who read his columns were undoubtedly a very small subset of Mac users. There has never been a shortage of early adopters for any Apple update. Which is why, despite Topher’s advice, the number of people who fail to take appropriate measures before installing an update has always produced more than enough complaints for the less hasty among us to learn from.

      Now we come to the part where I disagree with Topher in respect to prepping your system for an update. I don’t consider running Disk Utility before an update to be extreme. Since, in my experience, few people do even routine maintenance on their computers, the potential for overlooked permissions problems to mess up an update is far from trivial. Which is one reason we see so many complaints after even minor updates. Apple gets most of the blame when things go wrong, but in most cases, in my opinion, the source of the trouble is user negligence. Of course, if people took Topher’s advice to back up before updating, the margin for real disaster would be diminished to near zero.

      As for system cleaning, I agree that it’s probably overkill in this case. On the other hand, if you don’t take out the trash, so to speak, very often then doing some system cleanup may be of some benefit. Running a utility like the freeware app Maintenance ( can spruce up your system; using it (or something like it) at least occasionally is a good idea on general principles. If preparing for an OS update moves you to do some long delayed system maintenance, then that’s hardly a bad thing. Whatever gets the job done.

      1. Strod

        Hello, Jefferson. Just to make it clear, even though the main message of my reply is real (if everyone followed the “wait” advice it would become pointless), I pointed out that irony just as a joke.

        Now I realize that I should have littered my comment with emoticons and used deep, evident sarcasm to make sure no one took me seriously. Ah, well. 🙁

  4. Al Varnell

    Wait? Actually you could do just the opposite it you are having issues now or just want this capability today. Just sign up for the OS X Mavericks Beta program

  5. Lawrence

    I only wait a day or so. Any real problems will show up immediately. The vast majority of Apple discussion forum posts go something like this… “This update killed my Mac. What was Apple thinking? Don’t they test this stuff before releasing it? Steve is dead and Apple is going down hill.” When advised to simply restore from backup the response is usually “What’s a backup?” You really have to filter out the nonsense from the actual issues that may crop up.

    1. Topher Kessler Post author

      Yes, thats the unfortunate aspect about using the discussions to assess an update, so it is a bit of a subjective approach; however, if you step back and try to see the discussion postings from a more global standpoint, then you can get a feeling of whether or not a problem is widespread.

  6. curteye

    As a pro musician this update (among other things), asks developer to concentrate on audio drivers.

    I will wait ‘long time’ to see how this all sort out.

    Good Luck! {‘-‘}

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