Crash nearly any OS X app by typing 'File:///'

Here is a bit of news that will leave you scratching your head for anyone that uses OS X Mountain Lion. If you type "File:///" (without the quotes) into nearly any app, it will cause the app to crash. This odd bug has been confirmed by Neowin and we have managed to crash Spotify, Tweetbot, Notes and a bunch of other applications too.

The bug has been reported to Apple and we must admit, it is quite odd how a bug like this went unnoticed for so long. Seeing as the text string affects nearly all applications, we do wonder what is truly causing the issue.

To make this text string kill an application, open up nearly any app and type the text into any field and make sure you use a capital F. After completing the string, most applications will lock-up or crash instantly. 

We are sure that Apple will likely patch this bug fairly quickly although, it seems that not every application is affected with some programs, like Gimp, not crashing after entering the mysterious text.

As a fun aside, we accidentally crashed Chrome three times while writing this post using the above string.

Source: 9to5mac

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Now try and delete the entry for the crashed app from within the Console application on your Mac and you'll see that once you activate the entry for deletion the Console app crashes too. Did here anyway. I used some third party tool to clear out the database of crashed entries.

Has anyone noticed that a lot of people do NOT get this bug? Makes me laugh when all the haters are insisting it DOES happen ... I bet half those people don't even have a Mac

This is such a minor bug it's astonishing this news gathered 86 comments so far. I guess it will be patched someday. But if i was in charge the priority of this would be 5 on a scale of 5 where 1 is the most important task to do.

It's not a minor bug it affects this many big and important applications. Plus there may be ways to exploit this bug for nefarious purposes which I bet people are already looking into.

Kalint said,
I dont understand how people find **** like this.

Accidental misspellings or typos. These are the things that are easy to slip by in Q&A, as you cannot account for every single mis-calculated entry without allowing a massive audience put it to full use.

Well in Linux, File:/// redirects to the root file system, but entering File:/// into a text entry field in any applications doesn't cause Ubuntu to crash, so maybe it's something specific to the version of the BSD kernel Apple used, or something to do with the modifications they made to it for use in their desktop OS. Either that, or maybe if you try to tell an app to access the root directory but you're not an admin user, it just hangs up.

Thought the same, but not really - I justI reproduced in Notes - note that File:/// causes a crash, whereas file:/// doesn't. According to the Chromium discussion this is likely an issue in string substitution/auto-correct which throws an unhanded exception.

Update: Disabling Correct spelling automatically 'fixes' it.

Edited by Breach, Feb 2 2013, 11:24pm :

Good post. I found that disabling "Correct spelling automatically" isn't enough, I had to also disable "Use symbol and text substitution".

Yep, MBA 2011 - no crashes whatsoever - 10.8.2... I feel cheated again... first my Twitter account wasn't hacked now this...

Maybe it's an issue on non-admin accounts? file:/// basically says open / on the local file system.

As somebody above pretty much pointed out, this is obviously a bug in OSX's autocorrection feature, which is why it affects most text fields in most apps.

I guess I'll just not have to type File:/// til it's patched

I used to have fun connecting to other people's network shares but adding /con/con to the end, BSOD them every time \\computer\share/con/con

An odd bug, must be a flaw in a system API which some applications don't use. Would expect Apple to patch it pretty quickly but a rather odd bug to miss.

Crashed TextEdit with it. Interesting.

If it doesn't affect Lion, it must be a trivial fix. It'll probably be patched soon.

Unlike Windows which didn't provide any kind of general spell checking or auto correction for text controls until Windows 8, and even then that only applies to Modern apps.

virtorio said,
Unlike Windows which didn't provide any kind of general spell checking or auto correction for text controls until Windows 8, and even then that only applies to Modern apps.

Grasping at straws much?, go cry in a corner, this is about OSX not Windows.

Toysoldier said,

Grasping at straws much?, go cry in a corner, this is about OSX not Windows.

You're right and wrong. It's not about Windows, and it's also not about OS X. It's about taking jabs at a company that you don't like so that you may feel better about yourself.

virtorio said,
Unlike Windows which didn't provide any kind of general spell checking or auto correction for text controls until Windows 8, and even then that only applies to Modern apps.

... In comparison to OSX that has only just got the ability to resize window boxes from any corner??! And only just got TRIM support for SSD's!

Still can't even use CrossFire or SLI, or support multiple monitors properly (if you full screen an app in Mountain Lion the other monitors go blank). Just getting a blu-ray drive to work on OSX is a headache. Pathetic.

- Resize from any corner... hardly the world's biggest feature.
- TRIM support for SSDs... Windows got it 18 months before OSX, in a world where many more Windows users have SSDs.
- CrossFire or SLI... hardcore gaming feature. Really needed on OSX?
- Multiple monitors... supported just fine. Monitors going blank when an app is in fullscreen? Utter rubbish.

virtorio said,
Unlike Windows which didn't provide any kind of general spell checking or auto correction for text controls until Windows 8, and even then that only applies to Modern apps.

Maybe that's because most of Windows users don't actually need text auto correction tools?

Garry said,
- Resize from any corner... hardly the world's biggest feature.....
Might not be useful for you but once you get the hang of it, it make the process of resizing windows way easier especially now that it is so easy to split my screen to view 2 window.

soldier1st said,
I bet apple will consider this a "Non issue" and not bother fixing it unless users pay them.

I bet it'll be fixed in one of the next updates since it's already known where the bug is produced (from above: Turning "Use symbol and text substitution" and "Correct spelling automatically" in Settings -> "Language and Text" off prevents the crash.).

soldier1st said,
I bet apple will consider this a "Non issue" and not bother fixing it unless users pay them.

Good news, Its fixed in the next HARDWARE release - you need to pay $9,999 to upgrade.

Will be out in under 12 months.

I have those 2 settings turned off yet TextEdit crashes, Safari however does not. I'm guessing there might be a bit more to it then just those two settings. Perhaps it's in the autocorrection stuff in OS X. I think TextEdit still uses it even with the two options turned off. That would explain TextEdit crashing and Safari not crashing.

Turning "Use symbol and text substitution" and "Correct spelling automatically" in Settings -> "Language and Text" off prevents the crash.

Doesn't seem to affect TextEdit though. With those options turned off I can still crash it.

Found the fix for TextEdit: disable the spell checker in TextEdit and it won't crash. Seems to be something in the spell checker/autocorrection stuff.

Edited by dyn, Feb 3 2013, 10:25pm :

Wow, it even crashes TextEdit :-) Didn't notice the required capital F at first, so I didn't manage to crash anything, but after that....

From the source article:

"The bug affects all Macs running Mountain Lion, but does not have any effect on Lion or Snow Leopard."

trek said,
From the source article:

"The bug affects all Macs running Mountain Lion, but does not have any effect on Lion or Snow Leopard."


Ohhh, I tried it in iTunes and Chrome, wondered why nothing was happening.

dyn said,
Doesn't crash here in Safari. After pressing return it simply opens a Finder window.

Are you typing file:/// or File:///

1Pixel said,

It does. You need to type File:/// with a capital F. And you have to be using Mountain Lion.

It doesn't seem to do it every time in chrome, sometimes it will work and you'll get a listing of the root dir other times it will just crash.

Firefox seems to convert it to lowercase therefore usually works.

sagum said,

Are you typing file:/// or File:///


Have tried both and both open up a Finder window showing the contest of / (as you'd expect). Other here have pointed at data detectors and autocorrect. I have the latter turned off which might explain why I can't crash Safari. I can crash TextEdit even with the data detectors disabled. Flaky bug...

Of course I'm also running 10.8.2 with all the updates.

Exactly what I did. And yes I have 10.8.2 on my iMac. Couldn't reproduce in Finder, Safari, Notes, Contacts and Spotlight.

wow.. you would think they would block out reserved paths... MS learned that lesson in windows 9x with c:\con\con although, that crashed the entire OS

neufuse said,
wow.. you would think they would block out reserved paths... MS learned that lesson in windows 9x with c:\con\con although, that crashed the entire OS

Even worst than that, and similar to this OSX bug, there was an android flaw in 2008 where every keystroke was redirected to a hidden root terminal and executed.
That was the most crazy flaw I ever heard about.

http://mobile.slashdot.org/sto...es-keystrokes-to-root-shell

It's not even a reserved path, it's just the root folder on the system. The strange thing is that it needs a capital F to crash, lowercase "file:///" doesn't cause any issues.

trek said,
You're typing things wrong.

Indeed, because I have Mountain Lion here, and cannot reproduce it anywhere.

PyX said,

Indeed, because I have Mountain Lion here, and cannot reproduce it anywhere.


This is a confirmed bug. Do not make things up to defend Apple. Microsoft has had its share of stupid bugs as well and so has Google.

I don't think he's making things up, I just think he is testing it in the wrong apps (the ones that are not affected by it and thus do not crash). I tried it in Safari as well and can't reproduce it either. Safari doesn't crash. It accepts the text and simply does nothing. Pressing the enter key simply opens a Finder window which is exactly what I expect to happen. Doing this in Firefox does the same thing. However in TextEdit it does make it crash.

Being a confirmed bug does not mean that everybody is affected by it. It simply means that somebody has found the bug and others are able to reproduce it. In most cases a confirmed bug is one that has been reproduced by the manufacturer itself (iow, the manufacturer is confirming there is a bug). The latter hasn't happened (yet?).

pes2013 said,

This is a confirmed bug. Do not make things up to defend Apple. Microsoft has had its share of stupid bugs as well and so has Google.

not sure as i'm on 10.8.3 beta, but doesn't work here, there is no crash...

pes2013 said,

This is a confirmed bug. Do not make things up to defend Apple. Microsoft has had its share of stupid bugs as well and so has Google.

Just because someone owns a product doesn't mean they're a fanboy for that company...

AlexMagik said,

not sure as i'm on 10.8.3 beta, but doesn't work here, there is no crash...

10.8.3 (12D61) it crashes Safari, Finder, iTunes, System Prefs, Messages, Mail and more.

dead.cell said,

Just because someone owns a product doesn't mean they're a fanboy for that company...


But they are saying that the product they have does not have this bug. Why lie like that unless you are a fan of the company? If not, I apologize.

pes2013 said,

This is a confirmed bug. Do not make things up to defend Apple. Microsoft has had its share of stupid bugs as well and so has Google.

Do you seriously want me to post a video of me NOT having this bug ?

pes2013 said,

But they are saying that the product they have does not have this bug. Why lie like that unless you are a fan of the company? If not, I apologize.

You're the one who's the "fanboy" type because you are not reading the article at all nor other people's posts. As you can see in the article itself it doesn't crash ALL applications, it only crashes SOME. As you can also see further down the replies here not everybody is able to reproduce it in say Safari. That's because this seems like a bug in Data Detectors/AutoCorrection. If the app doesn't use the data detectors and you have the autorcorrect turned off there will be less apps you can crash. Just because not everybody is able to reproduce the problem does not make them liars nor fanboys. You are just trolling/name calling so yeah, the very least you can do is apologise.

Did some additional testing and it seems that disabling the spell checker in TextEdit stops it from crashing. Turning the data detectors on or off does nothing so it seems this is something in the spell checker/autocorrection.

pes2013 said,

But they are saying that the product they have does not have this bug. Why lie like that unless you are a fan of the company? If not, I apologize.

That's not what he said at all. He said he couldn't reproduce it, which is a huge difference from what you're inferring.

pes2013 said,

But they are saying that the product they have does not have this bug. Why lie like that unless you are a fan of the company? If not, I apologize.

if they have a special config, or if they disabled the autochecker in the preferences, the bug doesn't appear.

i found out that because i'm using typinator, then most times won't crash.
so, as you see, it's not a lie.

pes2013 said,

But they are saying that the product they have does not have this bug. Why lie like that unless you are a fan of the company? If not, I apologize.

Repeatable bugs are not always worldwide. If you have had no experience with development of any product on a computer/console etc, then you're forgiven to a degree, but don't accuse someone of lying when it's about something you don't know anything about.

Brad Sams said,
As a fun aside, we accidentally crashed Chrome three times while writing this post using the above string.

thats what you get for using apple - lol

Hum said,
Cool -- this will come in handy.

Lots of little bugs in OSs. Some are quite destructive, others are a bit of an annoyance. I'm sure some can be rather useful... I expect this one will be more of an joke for most.