Thoughtful, detailed coverage of the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, plus the TidBITS Content Network for Apple consultants.



Pick an apple! 

Apple Releases macOS Sierra 10.12.3, iOS 10.2.1, tvOS 10.1.1, and watchOS 3.1.1

Apple has released small updates for all of its operating systems to address bugs and security concerns. Apart from Sierra users who have experienced problems with PDFs, most users will be best served by delaying updates.

macOS 10.12.3 Sierra -- The macOS 10.12.3 Sierra update includes just a few notable fixes. Preeminent among them is a fix for the bug that caused Preview to delete OCR text layers when editing a PDF (see “Sierra PDF Problems Get Worse in 10.12.2,” 2 January 2017). The update also promises to resolve a compatibility issue with PDF documents that have been exported with encryption enabled.

Unfortunately, early reports from developers indicate that many other problems with PDFKit remain; Michael Tsai of C-Command said that he is still seeing previously reported user interface and rendering bugs. For instance, open a PDF in Preview, choose Tools > Rectangular Selection, draw out a selection, and press Command-C — you’ll see a horrible display bug that appears to delete the entire page until you click again.

Apple also claims that the 10.12.3 update:

  • Improves automatic graphics switching on the MacBook Pro (15-inch, October 2016).

  • Resolves graphics issues while encoding Adobe Premiere Pro projects on the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13- and 15-inch, October 2016).

  • Fixes an issue that prevented some third-party applications from correctly importing images from digital cameras.

macOS 10.12.3 is a 1.05 GB update available via Software Update. Alternatively, you can instead download a delta updater (for 10.12.2, 1.28 GB) or combo updater (from any version of 10.12, 2.04 GB). If you’ve had PDF problems with Sierra, you probably want to install it right away. Otherwise, hold off for a few days to see if any major issues are reported online.

The update also includes 9 security fixes.

iOS 10.2.1 -- Release notes for the iOS 10.2.1 update are minimal: “…includes bug fixes and improves the security of your iPhone or iPad.” However, there are 13 confirmed security fixes in the update. The update — 67.4 MB on an iPhone 7 Plus — can be obtained via Settings > General > Software Update or from iTunes.

Since it doesn’t appear to be a major update, we recommend holding off on updating to iOS 10.2.1 for a week or so to be sure that no problems crop up.

tvOS 10.1.1 -- You can obtain the tvOS 10.1.1 update on your fourth-generation Apple TV via Settings > System > Software Updates > Update Software. Other than its 9 security fixes, we know nothing about the update, but can assume that it contains small bug fixes. If your Apple TV is working fine, there’s no need to update immediately, but it’s probably worth installing next week sometime if no problem reports appear online.

watchOS 3.1.3 -- Like the iOS and tvOS updates, the watchOS 3.1.3 update has minimal release notes, other than the whopping 31 security fixes. The 126 MB update can be found in Watch > General > Software Update on your iPhone. Remember that upgrading requires your Apple Watch to be in range of your Wi-Fi–connected iPhone, connected to its charger, and charged to at least 50 percent. The update will likely take longer than you expect, so allot at least an hour.

Given that the watchOS 3.1.1 update bricked a number of Apple Watches, and was later withdrawn and rereleased by Apple, we recommend holding off on the watch OS 3.1.3 update for at least a week, if not more.


Make friends and influence people by sponsoring TidBITS!
Put your company and products in front of tens of thousands of
savvy, committed Apple users who actually buy stuff.
More information: <>

Comments about Apple Releases macOS Sierra 10.12.3, iOS 10.2.1, tvOS 10.1.1, and watchOS 3.1.1
(Comments are closed.)

B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2017-01-23 23:19
Mac laptops have had problems with graphics switching ever since Apple introduced the feature. Shouldn't they have worked out the bugs by now?

As for PDFKit, native PDF support has been a feature of OS X from the beginning. Now Apple has decided to break it, and for what? Does anyone know what they think they're doing? It seems Apple hasn't got a clue, since their fix doesn't fix much. But I'll certainly take Josh's advice and hold off at least till next week when he can report back with what he's learned in the meantime.

I don't do anything fancy with PDFs and have had no problems with them. But then I still use Adobe Reader to view PDF documents, not Preview. Absent that issue I've had no trouble with Sierra. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that remains the case.
Ed Westemeier  2017-01-24 15:09
FWIW, I updated MacOS, iOS, and WatchOS this morning and the process was smooth and trouble-free.
Seth Anderson  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-01-24 15:57
I’ve been unable to connect to the App Store all morning. Normally, I wouldn’t care, and would just wait a few days, but the PDF bug is really a big deal for me and my work flow, I want it to be fixed a month ago.

update, the updates are available via, if you click around a bit (for instance for US: )
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-01-24 16:22
Oh good - they finally posted. The place to look (and where they weren't when we published) is:
Roger D. Parish  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-02-04 18:02
Post-10.12.3 uodate, I am unable to display some PDF's in either Safari or Safari Technology Preview. Those same PDF's display just fine in Chrome.

It isn't all PDF's, though. So far, just one site, that of the Lee County, Florida, Clerk of Courts won't display. I tried my bank, Wells Fargo, and the statements there display just fine.

On the Clerk web site, the PDF's display a dark background, and the "buttons" for zoom and display in Preview and download all show up, but do not perform any actions.

This web site had previously worked just fine.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-02-06 10:27
Interesting. Can you give a URL to a PDF that won't display?
Roger D. Parish  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-02-08 07:57

Then click on the "view image" button. This document pertains to me, so you won't be violating someone else's privacy.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-02-08 11:03
I can reproduce this - it shows fine in Chrome, but not in Safari. I will say that it's a truly weird system though, since even in Chrome, I can't save the PDF either through the normal Control-click > Save As mechanism or through the download button (I get a ShowPDF.aspx file). I can get it into Preview by using the page's Print button and opening in Preview from there.
Roger D. Parish  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-02-09 17:06
I tried looking at it with the Web Inspector in Safari, but it just beyond my comprehension. My skills are terribly out-of-date.
Roger D. Parish  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-02-09 17:37
I just tried to recreate the problem in 10.12.2 from a clone pre-update, and the problem is still there. I don't recall the last time I used that web site, but it had worked then.

I don't have any older clones to try to see if it perhaps is a problem brought in by Sierra.

A side note: going from a roll-your-own fusion drive to a USB 3.0-attached external drive (probably 5400RPM) is AGONIZINGLY SLOOOOW!