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Mail.app stopped working on my Snow Leopard Mac after installing Security Update 2012-004 (Snow Leopard) (Post Date: September 19, 2012). Long ago, I moved Mail.app to a directory different from /Applications/ . At some point Mail.app got upgraded from version 4.2 (the one that came with the original installation discs) up to version 4.5, and it never got updated in my computer because the application was in a different directory - and it never complained until now.

This is the error message that I get when executing Mail.app:

You can't use this version of Mail with this version of Mac OS X. You have Mail version 4.2 (1078/1085). It can't be used on Mac OS X version 10.6.8 (Build 10K549)

I have tried:

  • Moving back Mail.app to /Applications/ (same error message)
  • Running Software update (there was nothing to install, I'm up-to-date)
  • Re-installing Mail.app from the installation discs (it installed version 4.2 again, the problem persists)

None of the above have worked so far. Any ideas?

UPDATE :

I followed @BSDGuy's advice and managed to update Mail.app to version 4.5. But I'm getting the same error, except that now it's complaining about version 4.5! This is the error message:

You can't use this version of Mail with this version of Mac OS X. You have Mail version 4.5 (1084/1085). It can't be used on Mac OS X version 10.6.8 (Build 10K549)

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This is a great example of how the system frameworks are needed to support an application. With enough work, it is often possible to determine which frameworks are missing but that requires the OS to not change the existing frameworks so that the code crashes (or worse erases some or all of your mail messages). Sometimes you can pull this off, but generally it's a bad idea if you don't have good backups and time to learn enough to really understand how the app and OS actually work together. –  bmike Sep 26 '12 at 15:36
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4 Answers

You can go to Apples web site and download the updates manually. The downloads site is:

http://support.apple.com/downloads/

Once there, go to the "Search Downloads" "10.6.8" update. You can download either the combo (for people who haven't updated much) or the last, which was just for the 10.6.7 to 10.6.8. You might want to find specifically which update made the changes.

What I would try is the following:

  1. Move Mail.app back to /Applications
  2. Perform the manual update(s) from the downloaded update

IF the download allows you to go through the packages and you can find out which package mail is in (the names aren't always straight forward) you could probably do a manual update using only that package.

This might be risky, but you could try actually doing the full update on the system. In the PAST, you could do that and it would ignore any updates that superseded what's in the package or already installed and only install those components needing update. I don't write Apple's update software so that might be risky.

Hope this helps.

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It would be best to download the 10.6.8 Combo, as OP doesn’t know which update changed Mail.app. –  duci9y Sep 22 '12 at 5:55
    
Thanks for your time @BSDGuy. I did as you suggested, and indeed Mail.app got updated to version 4.5 ... but I'm getting the same error, except that now it's complaining that the version is 4.5! this is what I get now: You have Mail version 4.5 (1084/1085). It can't be used on Mac OS X version 10.6.8 (Build 10K549) –  Óscar López Sep 22 '12 at 13:05
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Solved it. Here's what I had to do:

  1. Delete Mail.app from the directory where I had put it
  2. Re-install Mail.app 4.2 from Snow Leopard's installation discs
  3. Install Mac OS X 10.6.8 Update Combo v1.1 for upgrading Mail.app to version 4.5
  4. Re-install Security Update 2012-004 (Snow Leopard). Now Mail.app is up to version 4.6

My problem was caused because Security Update 2012-004 didn't find Mail.app in the directory where it expected it, and anyway my Mail.app was out of date. Bottom line: it's a bad idea to move Mac OS X's default applications to non-standard directories.

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That is indeed a bad idea. I was going to remind you to not forget to accept your answer, but then I looked at your rep on SO, so I figured you didn't need reminding. :) –  CajunLuke Sep 22 '12 at 19:29
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I was curious to see what would happen if I tried to update my own system, and also to see if the way they distribute the packages has changed. Here's what I found:

  1. I did a 10.6.8 update on a 10.6.8 system. I could not get individual packages out, it was just one package

  2. The install essentially raced through, but took some time registering the components.

  3. After the install finished, I checked the /var/log/install.log file and it's filled with comments like this sample shows:

Skipping component "com.apple.PackageKit" (1.1.3-92.0.0-920000-*) because the version 1.1.4-93.0.0-930000-1 is already installed.

Skipping component "com.apple.QuickTimeImporters.component" (7.6.6-1783.0.0-17830000-*) because the version 7.6.6-1790.0.0-17900000-1 is already installed.

Skipping component "com.apple.MDImporter.CoreMedia" (0.484.52-484.52.0-4845200-*) because the version 0.484.60-484.60.0-4846000-1 is already installed.

Skipping component "com.apple.opengl" (1.6.13-1.6.13-61315-*) because the version 1.6.14-1.6.14-61400-1 is already installed.

It did this for every package - in other words, it didn't install anything or overwrite anything.

When the system rebooted, it was fine - no apparent change in anything.

I think this might be a way for you to get your mail working. When it's done, check the install log, and see if it actually updated Mail.

Hope this helps.

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I had the same problem. I solved it by moving Mail back to Applications and re-installing Security Update 2012-004.

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Just wondering: why wasn't Mail in /Applications to begin with? –  CajunLuke Oct 5 '12 at 22:12
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