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Obscure OS X Mountain Lion bug makes many apps crash

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TUAW reader Don McC pointed us to this Next Web write-up about an obscure Mountain Lion crash. If you type File: followed by /// in many apps, they will crash. There are 8 characters in total and the F must be capitalized.

I tested this and managed to crash a bunch of apps. Echofon, QuickTime, Safari, and Notes all fell before the 8-character text, although Firefox did not . Most amusingly, when I attempted to open the crash logs in TextEdit, the logs killed the app!

So what's going on? Here's what my system log reports:

Feb 2 22:18:37 Esopus-Spitzenburg.local TextEdit[8417]: assertion on /SourceCache/DataDetectorsCore/DataDetectorsCore-269.1/Sources/PushDown/DDResultExtraction.c:1576 "CFStringHasPrefix(urlVal, CFSTR("file://"))" failed :wrong extraction: File:///

As the Next Web explains, it's an issue with a built in assertion. Assertions allow programmers to mandate expected behavior, validating input to assure its correctness. In this case, automated data detectors see what appears to be a malformed URL and send off an application exception reporting the internal inconsistency. The exception crashes the application because there's no built-in handler.

I tried out the recommended solution (disabling spelling correction and symbol substitution) but it didn't work for me personally.

TUAW submitted a bug report to Apple.

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