Apple Ships Mysterious macOS 11.5.2 Update

Originally published at: Apple Ships Mysterious macOS 11.5.2 Update - TidBITS

Apple has released macOS 11.5.2 but isn’t saying what’s in it or what it does.

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But to release a 3.45 GB update without explaining what it’s supposed to fix is about the most unhelpful thing that Apple could do just over two weeks after the last 3.1 GB update.

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Mr.Macintosh tweeted:

I put in a ticket with Apple Enterprise Support to find out what the deal is.

Apple quickly responded.

No further details on the Big Sur 11.5.2 update will be released.

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Yeah, this is bizarre behavior from Apple. I’m used to these kinds of notes for tvOS, but this is totally unheard of for macOS.

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It does say bug fixes. Perhaps it’s something to do with Apple’s Expanded Protections for Children.

To immediately follow up the controversy and firestorm arising from the release of that policy by pushing out an update like this with zero information, opens the door for all sorts of speculation.

The kindest interpretation one can put on this is that Apple’s PR team has been subject to sudden, collective and comprehensive brain fade.


I have installed 11.5.2 on my MacBookPro and I found a difference in how some web pages display:

For example, go to this article using Safari. On 11.5.1, the body font is a light grey on a white page and borderline unreadable. Visiting the page on other browsers (including the Safari Technology Preview) displays a perfectly normal black font. When I accessed the page using the laptop with 11.5.2, it also appeared with black font.

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I am using 11.5.1 and don’t have this phenomenon, i.e. the font is black, there is no blurring at the borderline. I checked with Firefox which gave the same appearance.

Something very bizarre happened, indicative of this mysterious, update being rushed out the door.

I won’t bore you with the details, suffice it to say multiple pages were not displaying corrected in Firefox but looked correct on Chrome. Dark mode was problematic on some pages.

When I submitted a bug, someone very quickly pointed out that my High Contrast setting was turned on in Accessibility.

The thing is I did not turn it on. I don’t even know what it does. Meaning Apple turned it on as part of the 11.5.2 update process.

Why would they do that? Just a mistake by a junior programmer writing the installer?

Totally mysterious.

What is really concerning is Apple’s is so totally stonewalling this. I have no choice in the matter, I am sooner or later running whatever Apple wants to put on my device.

And we the users really have no choice. We’ll either install it now, or what for Monterey, where whatever it was Apple was putting on our machines will be embedded into the Monterey code base…


Alternate release notes: :innocent:
We are only testing what share of Mac OS users is willing to install an update based on zero information. Might come in handy when we need to introduce unwanted features.


Based on the changes noted in Howard Oakley’s article, there were certainly changes to Safari and related Webkit software, so not surprised that you are seeing differences. Not sure I can explain the differences observed between platforms, perhaps related to graphic/display?

Updated my i9 MBP16. Can’t find a difference so far.

Could be.

Could it also be a mis-typed keystroke? If you go to the System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Accessibility, you will see a variety of keystrokes for turning these features on and off.

Although it’s unlikely that you would accidentally type the contrast-adjust keystrokes (⌃⌥⌘. and ⌃⌥⌘, are the defaults on my Catalina system), does this sound like you might have typed at some point?

There have been times in the past when Apple’s release notes were similarly bad, but they’ve been generally decent for the last decade or so.

No, that’s slated for macOS 12 Monterey. But it does seem particularly tone-deaf at this point in time.

It may be unlikely, but it’s absolutely possible. I ran into it a few years ago.

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I think if that were the case we would have also seen an accompanying iOS update.

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Ever since I updated my Mac to 11.5.1 iCloud Safari Tabs have been hosed. My iPhone keeps showing a set of tabs I had open on my Mac from just before the Mac updated. When I get around to it later, I’ll see if perhaps this 11.5.2 Safari fix does away with that. I use iCloud tabs a lot to continue reading on-the-go or vice versa so to me this bug has been rather annoying.

TBH though this isn’t the first update that has wrecked iCloud tabs. I really don’t get what the problem is. Compared to all the other fancy shmancy stuff Apple has going on, having a list of URLs on iCloud updated by 3-4 devices really doesn’t seem like brain surgery. iCloud Safari bookmarks is a very similar system and that appears far more stable despite holding hundreds if not thousands of entries.

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I may be going nuts here, but one thing I noticed about the update is that after I installed some websites (live Vox) no longer show the Reader View icon in the address bar. You can still get the Reader View via View → Show Reader (or the keyboard shortcut) but the convenient address bar icon is now gone.

The typical behavior that I have always seen is that index pages don’t show the reader view icon, but content pages do. In the particular case you cite (, I see no difference between 11.5.1 on my iMac and 11.5.2 on my MacBookPro. Forcing the reader view for the index page via the View menu ranges to only show the last of many subscription boxes on the page.

As an aside, I have found the reader view will often let you see the text of an article that is officiallyonly available to subscribers to a site. It doesn’t work universally, but slips through for sites whose coding for subscriptions is not tight. I find it especially useful to try when I click on a link and go to a site (for example, a small newspaper site) that I don’t plan on visiting on a regular basis.

Nope. No luck. iCloud Tabs still busted. :frowning:

When I posted that I was looking at a specific article in Vox. No Reader View icon. I toggled the site specific preference “Use Reader When Available” and now the Reader icon is back in the address bar for individual articles.