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macOS 11.2 Big Sur Improves Bluetooth, Squashes Bugs

Hot on the heels of other recent Apple operating system updates (see “watchOS 7.3, iOS 14.4, iPadOS 14.4, and tvOS 14.4 Address Serious Security Exploit,” 26 January 2021), Apple has released macOS 11.2 Big Sur to improve Bluetooth reliability and fix bugs that could:

  • Cause external displays to show a black screen when connected to an M1-based Mac mini with an HDMI to DVI converter
  • Prevent edits to Apple ProRAW photos from saving in Photos
  • Inadvertently turn off iCloud Drive entirely after the user disabled iCloud Drive Desktop & Documents syncing
  • Prevent System Preferences from unlocking after entering an administrator password
  • Make the Globe key fail to show the Emoji & Symbols pane

macOS 11.2 release notes

If those bugs don’t seem earth-shattering, that’s because the focus of the macOS 11.2 update seems to have been on security, with 43 security fixes. Two of the vulnerabilities—the same ones addressed in last week’s updates to Apple’s other operating systems—may have been actively exploited in the wild. However, no mention was made of a recent vulnerability discovered in the sudo Unix utility.

The macOS 11.2 update advertises itself as being a 3.25 GB download on both an Intel-based iMac and an M1-based MacBook Air, although the latter Mac’s download window inexplicably reports 4.18 GB instead. You can only install the update using Software Update; Apple appears to have stopped releasing standalone downloads for Big Sur updates.

Downloading macOS 11.2 on M1

Given the severity of the exploited security vulnerabilities, we recommend installing macOS 11.2 soon if you’re already running macOS 11.1. Wait a few days to make sure the community doesn’t find unanticipated problems, and then update.

However, for those who haven’t yet updated from a previous version of macOS, we recommend waiting a few more weeks to determine if macOS 11.2 will give fence-sitters sufficient confidence to make the jump to Big Sur.

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Comments About macOS 11.2 Big Sur Improves Bluetooth, Squashes Bugs

Notable Replies

  1. Just to say I waited till a couple of days ago and 11.1 had been out for a while to upgrade to Big Sur on my 2014 MB Pro that had been running Catalina. I like the new, much cleaner design. Best feature imho is that you can now re-size the columns again in Mail, something that had been standard in Mail for years but somehow disappeared in Catalina.

  2. even after update, external display is still blank black when connected with USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

  3. No problems with Big Sur when connected from my 2014 MB Pro to a 24" Apple LED Cinema display external monitor, via the monitor’s Mini Display Port cable, and used as an external, second monitor. The external monitor works as it does with earlier Mac OS going back to Snow Leopard, although the display control panels have changed a little over the years. If you’re running an Apple monitor, even an older Cinema Display, this article may help: How to connect your old Apple display to your new Mac | Macworld

  4. In my experience, Big Sur is an unstable piece of trash, and my first Mac was an SE/30. Apps refuse to launch because I “don’t have permission” to launch them, and this happens only after a long pause while the OS struggles to figure out what to do. I can usually get them to launch eventually. The OS seems to prefer to launch them when I double-click on the app rather than click on the icon in the Dock but I don’t think that’s always the case. Safari and other apps also spontaneously crash. I often come back to my computer and get a message that some program crashed, most often Safari but it was NetBarrier a minute ago. All this after having no significant problems with Catalina. Oh, and SuperDuper still hasn’t been updated by its developer, who blames Apple for a half-baked roll-out. Big Sur is a grave insult to the Mac community. Disgusting!

  5. TIL - that if you try to use softwareupdate to try to install a system update:

    1. It will show you the update.
    2. It will download the update (slowly, in this case)
    3. When it completes, it will reboot the system.

    and here’s the tricky and most important one…

    1. It will not actually install the update, so when you reboot, it will be the same version you had before!

    One of my Mac-admin friends informs me that softwareupdate is no longer supported by Apple for system updates.

    Yet it still shows the update and downloads it.

    (No, my Mac-admin friend couldn’t explain why Apple hasn’t done something to make it so that wouldn’t happen since they made sure that softwareupdate can’t actually do its job anymore.)

  6. No, that’s not the explanation. I do not have an M1 Mac, I have a 2015 Intel iMac. By the way, none of my Big Sur problems went away after I installed v.11.2. Apple is so busy fixing security problems that it apparently hasn’t had time to address the actual usability of the OS.

  7. The problems you described don’t seem to be shared by a lot of us here running Big Sur, which might suggest that you have a corrupted install. I’d recommend reinstalling Big Sur and seeing if that resolves any of the issues. Another possibility is that your Mac has started suffering from a hardware problem at roughly the same time as you upgraded from Catalina—if it’s related to failing storage, it could even have been triggered by the upgrade.

  8. The headline and the article state that is for M1 Macs, not an 11.2 issue with Intel Macs. That said, my iMac Pro has not yet needed my ThunderBay SoftRAID… . ::grin:: I will be testing that eventually.

  9. Oops, good catch! I’m still internalizing that I have to keep checking for that sort of thing now.

  10. It is a bit more complicated these days!

    I use and support a range of Mac computers (5 or so for personal use and another 5 for family and friends, ranging from 2010 to late 2020) and it is amazing the contemplations I have as I ascertain whether something will work on any given computer with the numerous CPU configurations and multiple OS versions!

    I have been watching and reading the SoftRAID forums for months now as I waited and watched to determine when was the right time to upgrade various computers that needed various plugins (mostly audio and generators for FCP) and what would work on my new M1, also based on plugin updates.

  11. Try safe boot. Do the problems persist? If not, do they persist after then rebooting again in the regular manner? Do you see the same problems if you log in to a vanilla user account?

  12. There’s now confirmation that the sudo bug is still present in 11.2, as we thought it would be given the lack of mention in Apple’s security notes.

  13. I can’t even boot into safe mode without jumping through hoops. As CNET says in a 2013 article at What to do when a Mac won't boot to Safe Mode - CNET, I’d first have to disable FileVault and remove my firmware password. Ridiculous. I can’t boot into safe mode by holding down the shift key on my iMac or my MacBook Pro because of this. (I’ve tried it many times.) Anyway, the app launching problems have become intermittent. I thought they had perhaps gone away but no, I just got another error message of the same type. I’ll try a different user account but as I showed, other people are posting about this problem. Other people are also posting about Big Sur Mac app crashes. I will never give Apple the benefit of the doubt, not after my experience over many years. Shades of the days of INITPicker.

  14. I just created a new admin user account and tried to replicate the app launching (permissions) problem. No problem replicating it – same error.

  15. I have File Vault enabled too and getting into Safe Mode is not a problem. If the only thing holding you back is the firmware password, I’d just disable it for this test.

  16. I have avoided updating to Big Sir because it is just not ready yet. I have a copy loaded on a separate boot partition and I keep it up to date but my production machine with all my licensed software remains on Catalina.

  17. How does this work with Big Sur? Do you need a separate container on the internal disk? Would it work even with an M1 Mac? Thanks for the education.

  18. I just had the same problem on my wife’s Mac Mini running Big Sur, so I’m not going to let Apple run me through any more diagnostic hoops anytime soon. Piece of trash, as I said originally.

  19. I have not upgraded from Mojave like many because of the many problems there were with Catalina for which I have never had reliable reports of them being fixed. In particular the issues with Mail and Preview, both of which I totally depend upon. Mojave is not perfect* but in general it is pretty usable.

    • Incidentally the main issue I have with Mojave is that after about a day or so of having a Synology based SMB volume mounted any transaction with the shared volume becomes very sluggish indeed and is only fixed when I eject and re-mount the volume. This does not happen from Windows 10 so I can only assume it is a Mac SMB-client issue.
  20. I have a MBP 15in 2019 running an external display LG27UK850 - I was keen to upgrade from 11.1 to 11.2 due to the warning from Josh on the emphasis on Security fixes and a bug with spotlight.

    BUT I read elsewhere that a number of users have experienced problems with external displays in 11.1 which in some cases is made worse with 11.2

    There is also an annoying bug in Big Sur with searching for text within RTF docs, Big Sur is blind to these, convert the document to say .docx & it appears in spotlight! I had also hoped that 11.2 might fix this…

    Has anyone come across the display issue?
    Does anyone know if 11.2 fixes the RTF search/spotlight issue

    Any advice of comments greatly appreciated!

  21. I am still on Mojave. Just watching…waiting, waiting, waiting…


  22. Me too. Apple’s reluctance to actually tell you everything that they have fixed means that I would rather stick with the problems that I know about than move to another OS version with other problems that may or may not have been fixed. I depend on my computer working well for my business activities and I can’t afford to lose functionality.

    I am sure many others are in this position, and Apple must know how many people are still on older system versions. It is within their power to give us the confidence to upgrade.

    I have to say that this is probably my biggest gripe with Apple. Although by and large their systems are robust, there are always a few problems which may not be crashing bugs but are still widely recognised, but they are never acknowledged by Apple and so they never let you know when they are eventually fixed (if they ever are!).

  23. These are all anecdotes so of course YMMV but I just wanted to let folks know I stuck with Mojave for a long time until I upgraded to Catalina and only recently migrated to Big Sur, mainly because I was so frustrated with Catalina’s various quirks. On my systems, Big Sur has probably been the most well behaved of all three. Catalina was a real pain in the you-know-what. Mojave was better, but I think Big Sur has actually been the most stable. Its optics might take some getting used to, but in terms of smooth running it’s definitely Big Sur for me.

  24. I agree. Look I would like to move to Big Sur, I might not have any issues, but who can take that chance with your main system?
    Frankly, I should not have to worry about this. Apple should produce a stable system with a few small bugs. I have been a Mac user for more than 30 years, and Apple OS updates seem to be getting worse and worse.
    I invested in the Apple platform long ago because I agreed with their logic, we make the hardware AND the software for the perfect integration. Well?
    I think largely, that held true for many years, but as I said earlier, these updates seem to be getting worse.
    I will have to research how to go backwards before any attempt to move forward…but for now, I will wait.

  25. I really wish they would resolve the issue with being unable to mount and dismount volumes. It affects Catalina and Big Sure. What annoying problem.

  26. Catalina doesn’t run on an M1 Mac. With the transition underway, which platform do you think they have their most talented programmers and designers working on? I ditch my INTEL 2020 MBP know Apple is now focused on the M1.

  27. With an installed base of Intel Macs out there, it would be a huge folly to ignore those people. Sure, they are focusing on moving on, but I think that is going to take a while.

  28. Apple has been crystal clear that it will continue to support Intel-based Macs fully for at least a few years.

  29. I have two machines, both older (2015), one running Big Sur and one running Catalina. Most of the differences I can deal with, but I’m wondering if anyone has any input into what appear to me to be very strange design choices in Mail. Specifically, I use the probably-now-deprecated one-line-per-email just-the-sender-subject-and-date view. I do this because I have literally 4835 unread messages in my inbox, out of 7872 messages total. You can say what you like about my life and the way I run it, but the new version of Mail has, bizarrely, done away with the triangle that shows that a line corresponds to a thread, rather than to a single email, so there’s no way to tell whether I’m looking at a single message or a thread of thirty messages, until I hit the right arrow. Also, the lines are now much more widely spaced. I … can’t see any reason for either of these, and I’m hoping that someone has a suggestion on how to get more information onto the screen.

    Yeah, okay, this is probably one of those “Apple likes it this way, deal with it.” situations. Alas.

  30. Apple has been crystal clear that it will continue to support Intel-based Macs fully for at least a few years.

    Obviously but it won’t be there focus and major OS updates will likely end 3-years after the last INTEL Mac with security updates up to 5-years, which is 2-years short of the 5/7 years of support respectively. The key thing to watch for is if they push out another INTEL MacPro, something that will signal from where support begins and ends.

    Honestly, I sold my six month old $3000 Intel Mac once the M1 came out. The writing is on the wall.

  31. I think it may be a problem with your settings in BigSur for your email:

    All of the settings to check are in the View Menu when you are showing the index to your messages. From your description, you should have a check next to ‘Use Column Browser’. If there is no check next to ‘Organize by Conversation’, each message appears in the by itself in the list with no indication of any threads. So, click ‘Organize by Conversation’ if it is not set. That should fix the problem. You should see a column with a header of an up and a down arrow. Threads will be marked by a circled ‘>’. If you click it, the thread will expand. You can also highlight messages that are members of threads via the ‘Highlight Conversations’ item in the View menu.

    Note: I am describing what I see in BigSur 11.2, the update released last week. I believe that there were some issues with the column browser in at least one earlier version.

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