OS X 10.9 Mavericks Post-Installation Issues

This FAQ describes some post-installation issues experienced by the author after upgrading from Apple® OS X® 10.8.5 Mountain Lion to OS X 10.9.2 Mavericks. The upgrade was performed on the author’s Mac Pro (Mid-2010) equipped with a 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor, 6 GB of1066 MHz DDR3 RAM, and two internal 1 TB hard disk drives.

This FAQ covers the following topics:

Changed settings in System Preferences

Installing Mavericks changed some System Preferences I customized under Mountain Lion. After installing Mavericks I recommend you check all settings in System Preferences to assure they are set to your liking.

Two post-installation issues I encountered were the result of the Mavericks installation changing preferences I had set before the upgrade:

  • Persistent prompt for Apple ID when logging in. After installing Mavericks, logging in to my account resulted in a prompt for my Apple ID, followed by an animation indicating a set up procedure. I traced the source of this problem to iCloud preferences: installing Mavericks enabled the Documents & Data option, which I do not use. Deselecting Documents & Data stopped the prompt for my Apple ID.
  • Unexpected wake events. My Mac Pro periodically woke up — just the computer, not the display — after installing Mavericks. I realized that installing Mavericks enabled the Wake for network access preference in Energy Saver preferences. Mavericks assumes one is using features related to Wake on Demand and the Bonjour Sleep Proxy, which I am not. Deselecting Wake for network access solved this issue.

If you want complete control of installing software updates on your Mac, I recommend deselecting the following two settings in App Store preferences:

  • Install App Updates.
  • Install system data files and security updates.

Mail “Assertion failure” messages in Console

After installing Mavericks and opening Mail all messages are"converted.” What happens in this conversion is unknown, but it is a common occurrence with Mail and OS X upgrades. In my case, this conversion had side effects.

I regularly archive old e-mail using the following process:

  • Create a new Smart Mailbox specifying the criteria for the mail I wish to archive.
  • Archive the contents of the Smart Mailbox — using the Archive Messages feature of Mail — to a mailbox saved in an Archived Mailboxes folder.
  • Delete the contents of the Smart Mailbox created in step 1.
  • Delete the Smart Mailbox created in step 1.

While browsing All Messages in Console, I noted a slew of messages in the following format:

Mail[368]: *** Assertion failure...Absolute path passed into...path_to_archived_mailbox

These messages implied Mail was looking for the archived mailboxes, indicating something was amiss with the conversion. The solution was to rebuild the Mail index database:

  1. Quit (Command-Q) Mail if open.
  2. Open the directory ~/Library/Mail/V2/MailData
  3. Move the following three files therein to the Trash:
    • Envelope Index-wal
    • Envelope Index
    • Envelope Index-shm
  4. Open Mail. Mail reloads all e-mail and mailboxes: be patient. When completed, the Message Viewer window opens. You may note some previously-read mail may be now marked new —  unread — and you may find some previously-sent draft messages in the Drafts folder.
  5. Empty the Trash.

Lost functions in Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor, located in /Applications/Utilities, is an important troubleshooting tool. In Mavericks, it lost some useful functions regarding memory and disk usage.

The Memory pane replaced the System Memory pane and lost the pie chart displaying memory utilization by type, i.e. Free, Wired, Active, and Inactive. Similar data is now displayed numerically in tables bookending the new Memory Pressure chart. Likewise, the option to display Memory Usage in the Activity Monitor Dock icon is lost. The pie chart was useful graphic. The Memory Pressure chart may reduce users’ concerns about memory use, but experienced OS X users may miss the pie chart. Nevertheless, memory utilization has changed in Mavericks with the introduction of compressed memory, making Memory Pressure an easier metric for users to to understand.

The Disk Activity and Disk Usage panes have been replaced by a single Disk pane. The Disk pane lacks functions provided by Disk Usage: one cannot choose a specific disk to examine and the pie chart showing disk space — used vs. available — is gone. The Disk Usage pane was useful for examining both external drives and non-startup disks installed in desktop Macs, such as pre-2013 Mac Pro computers. One must now open the Info window of a drive or volume for this information.

The new Energy pane should prove useful in troubleshooting battery life issues, but may be irrelevant to desktop Mac users.

The com.apple.IconServicesAgent process

I noticed the com.apple.IconServicesAgent process (IconServicesAgent henceforth) in Activity Monitor and was concerned by the size of its memory footprint. Research reveals this process has caused similar concerns in the Mac community for two reasons:

  1. For some users, this process consumes the CPU because a temporary folder used as a cache by IconServicesAgent is missing. Some users found repairing permissions solved the problem, but in most cases the solution is to create the missing folder using the procedure specified in Kieran Healy’s blog post entitled "An issue in Mavericks with com.apple.IconServicesAgent.”
  2. IconServicesAgent consumes a considerable amount of memory, second only to kernel_task.

To understand IconServicesAgent, I searched all available Apple Developer resources, but came away empty handed. My search included:

  • Mac Developer Library: no joy.
  • Apple Developer Mailing Lists: IconServicesAgent is mentioned in one topic, but the discussion is unrelated to the performance or memory issues.
  • OS X man pages: there is an entry for iconservicesd — a daemon that I have not seen running in Activity Monitor — but the content contains only boilerplate information for a generic man page.

I can only conclude that IconServicesAgent is undocumented with respect to Apple Developer resources.

Scouring the Web, the best explanation I found for IconServicesAgent is this StackExchange post by Graham Perrin.

The com.apple.IconServicesAgent code resides in the following directory:


This code has the file extension .xpc, indicating that it is a XPC Service. An XPC Service is “a lightweight helper tool” described in the “Creating XPC Services” chapter of the Apple Developer Document Daemons and Services Programming Guide.

After restarting and logging in to my account, there is one instance of IconServicesAgent —  the one for my account —  using about 100 MB of memory. This jumps up to around 200 MB if I open a folder of aliases to various applications I keep in the Dock. Memory usage creeps up during the day, leveling off in the low-to-mid 200s MB range. Some users report higher memory usage, others lower. I have yet to see its memory footprint decrease during the day.

After running a Time Machine backup, multiple instances — one per user account defined in Users & Groups preferences — appear, despite my account being the only one logged-in. This must be due to Time Machine backing up the other accounts, i.e. accessing them with root privileges for the backup. These additional instances seem to persist until I restart the computer; their persistence after a Time Machine backup may be a bug.

Until Apple provides Developer documentation, I conclude there is little more we can learn about IconServicesAgent. While the memory usage may be of concern to some, the process appears well-behaved, assuming one has not run into the excessive CPU usage problem caused by the missing folder. My plan is to observe it casually and not concern myself with its memory footprint unless it increases Memory Pressure.

Delay before sleep

I normally put my Mac Pro in sleep mode by choosing Sleep in the Apple menu. Under OS X 10.8 and earlier, this resulted in the computer immediately entering sleep mode. After installing Mavericks, a delay of roughly 20 seconds — measured by stopwatch — occurs between choosing Sleep and the computer entering sleep mode.

Research again reveals this delay is a common complaint, with many users accepting this behavior as a “feature.” None of the common hardware-related troubleshooting steps for sleep issues, such as resetting PRAM or the power-management chip resolved this issue.

I suspect this may be a side-effect of how Power Nap is implemented in Mavericks.

Mavericks maintains daily power management logs that reside in the directory


The log file names are in YYYY.MM.DD.asl format, where YYYY is the year, MM the month, and DD the day. The .asl extension means the logs are in Apple System Logging format. Double-clicking one these log files opens it in Console. They can also be opened in Console by clicking the disclosure triangle next to /var/log in the Log List, then clicking the disclosure triangle for powermanagement. The log data can also be read in Terminal with the command

pmset -g log

While my Mac Pro does not support Power Nap, I performed the following experiment: after choosing Sleep from the Apple menu at exactly 22:32 hours — per the menu bar clock — and the computer entering sleep mode after a delay, I then woke the computer and noted the following lines in the daily power management log for 27 April 2014 at 22:32 hours:

Apr 27 22:32:44 mp.home powerd[16] <Notice>: PID 16(powerd) Created InternalPreventSleep "com.apple.powermanagement.darkwakelinger" 00:00:00  id:0xe00000173 [System: DeclUser SRPrevSleep kCPU kDisp]
Apr 27 22:32:59 mp.home powerd[16] <Notice>: PID 16(powerd) TimedOut InternalPreventSleep "com.apple.powermanagement.darkwakelinger" 00:00:15 id:0xe00000173 [System: DeclUser SRPrevSleep kCPU kDisp]
Apr 27 22:32:59 mp.home powerd[16] <Notice>: PID 16(powerd) Released InternalPreventSleep "com.apple.powermanagement.darkwakelinger" 00:00:15 id:0xe00000173 [System: DeclUser SRPrevSleep kCPU kDisp]
Apr 27 22:32:59 mp.home powerd[16] <Notice>: Software Sleep pid=43: Using AC

The time difference between the first and last line is 15 seconds, roughly the same as the delay seen after choosing Sleep in the Apple menu. My rough interpretation of the four lines is:

  1. The power management daemon (powerd) created an assertion (InternalPreventSleep) to prevent sleep, initializing a duration setting (com.apple.powermanagement.darkwakelinger) to zero (00:00:00)
  2. It then assigned a timeout (TimedOut) of 15 seconds (00:00:15) to the setting (com.apple.powermanagement.darkwakelinger).
  3. When the timeout expired, it released the assertion and setting.
  4. Sleep was initiated.

I believe com.apple.powermanagement.darkwakelinger refers to Power Nap: “Dark Wake” is the title of US Patent 7996694 — granted to Apple in August 2009 — that became the feature known as Power Nap.

I suspect, but have yet to prove:

  1. The 15 second parameter noted above is resulting in the 15-20 second delay seen when putting the Mac Pro in sleep mode, even though this model does not support Power Nap.
  2. Other Mac users — including those whose Macs support Power Nap — may see similar lines in the power management logs at the time they put their computers in sleep mode.

If this is the cause, one can hope this delay may be shortened or eliminated in a future OS X update.

System logging

Mavericks creates more log files than previous versions of OS X. There are new logs daily in the System Diagnostic Reports section of the Console Log List, the aforementioned daily power management logs, and other miscellaneous logs which I have yet to fully explore. The maintenance scripts do not appear to be cleaning up these logs, hence they are consuming disk space — albeit small amounts — that will eventually add up.

I'm all for logging what needs to be logged, especially for diagnostic purposes, but the plethora of new logs in Mavericks —  many related to power management —  seem excessive.


The following cosmetic issues were readily apparent after installing and using Mavericks:

  • Dock: When placed on either side of the desktop, the Dock background is too light and appears glaring against my dark desktop background. Research reveals this is another common complaint of Mavericks users. While some workaround are suggested in this StackExchange topic, I’ve decided to live with it for now, hoping that Apple will correct this in a future update.
  • Finder: Tags are no replacement for Labels. I set most Finder windows in List view, which colored the entire line containing a labeled object. These Labels became Tags in Mavericks and are much harder to see.
  • Notes: I have mixed feelings about the background color of the note entry field. It is less glaring than white, as in iOS 7, but an option to choose a background color would be helpful. Furthermore, Notes should support the ability to export multiple notes simultaneously as rich text (.rtf or .rtfd) files. Currently, Notes only supports exporting notes one-at-a-time in PDF format.

Adobe applications and Java SE 6

Installing Mavericks removes Java. Unfortunately, many Adobe applications, such as Dreamweaver CS6, require Java, specifically Java Standard Edition 6 (Java SE 6).

After the Mavericks installation completed, I logged in to my account and was greeted by the following alert:

“To open ‘CS5ServiceManager,’ you need a Java SE 6 Runtime. Would you like to install one now?”

The alert window contained buttons labeled Install and Not Now; I chose Not Now so I could research the message further. I have both CS5.x and CS6 versions of InDesign and Dreamweaver installed, as well as CS5.x versions of Illustrator and Photoshop.

Checking the Adobe knowledge base for information about this message, I found the article "Dreamweaver Help - Prompted to install Java SE 6 Runtime | Mac OS 10.9" with a screen shot of the same alert, albeit referring to Dreamweaver.

I had not yet opened any of my Adobe apps — Dreamweaver CS6 in particular — after installing Mavericks.

Before following Adobe’s advice to simply click Install in response to the alert, I dug further into the Adobe Forums on this matter. I found valuable information in the topic entitled "OS X 10.9 Mavericks / Dreamweaver CC Issue.” While CC is an abbreviation for Creative Cloud — the subscription version of Adobe software — and I installed Dreamweaver CS6 — the last versions shipped on discs — I decided to review this topic.

The gist of the topic is Dreamweaver would quit unexpectedly after opening, despite following the advice in the previously-cited Adobe knowledge base article, i.e. clicking Install to install Java SE 6. Several posts implied the best course of action was to download and install Java for OS X 2013-005 from Apple before opening any Adobe applications that required Java SE 6, DW in particular. I did this and Dreamweaver CS6 opened without crashing.

Therefore, if you use Adobe applications that require Java SE 6, after installing Mavericks I recommend not opening any such Adobe applications until you have downloaded and installed Java for OS X 2013-005 from Apple. Bypass any alerts prompting you to install a Java SE 6 Runtime by choosing Not Now.

Did you find this FAQ helpful? You will find a wealth of additional advice for preventing or resolving Mac OS X problems in Dr. Smoke's book, Troubleshooting Mac® OS X.

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