Lion Kills Apple’s USB Modem

USB modem that works with OSX Lion

USB modem that works with OSX Lion

I was having problems with the new "Mission Control" in Lion. I could use Mission Control just fine, but I couldn't set or change anything Mission Control-related in my System Preferences. When I would try to access Mission Control's settings in System Preferences, SysPreferences would hang until I force-quit it, or else it would just crash on its own without waiting for me.

<img class="size-thumbnail wp-image-148" title="Unchecking "Open in 32-bit mode" fixed Mission Control System Preferences for me — but killed my Apple USB Modem." src=" alternative to microsoft project.png" alt="Unchecking "Open in 32-bit mode" fixed Mission Control System Preferences for me — but killed my Apple USB Modem." width="250" height="339" srcset=" 250w, 184w, 88w, 58w, 103w, 55w, 265w" sizes="(max-width: 250px) 100vw, 250px" />

Unchecking "Open in 32-bit mode" fixed Mission Control System Preferences for me — but killed my Apple USB Modem.

I did the standard troubleshooting step of disabling all login items and restarting. No joy. I tried a new user account. Hey! Mission Control System Preferences is fine in the other account! That means it was something specific to my user account. But what?

I went surfing around reading about Lion troubleshooting. Someone somewhere suggested that someone set their System Preferences to start in 32-bit mode. Or maybe they suggested starting in 64-bit. The topic of the troubleshooting wasn't related to Mission Control, so that part doesn't really matter. But I decided to check my own System Preferences and whichever way it was set, I'd try switching it to the other way.

Back in my own user account, System Preferences was set to start in 32-bit mode. I switched it to 64-bit mode and lo and behold, Mission Control System Preferences suddenly stopped crashing and started working.

But.... it seems that no solution is ever a complete success. On restarting my computer, I get a message that says my Apple USB Modem can't be used on this computer. Some research revealed that the Apple USB Modem requires that System Preferences be in 32-bit mode.

That means that I can't use my Apple USB Modem to send and receive faxes on my computer. Is it time to panic yet?

Faxes? In 2011? Really?

Well, yes. Trust me, it's not my preference! I do some volunteer work for an organization that involves receiving paperwork from members of the public. Members of the public often still like to use faxes. My work for this group is far far easier if I can just accept faxes from them.

I also have clients who sometimes want to fax me things, and occasional legal documents related to my business and to a partnership that I'm involved with. Lawyers and banks still like faxes.

I found a thread on Apple's Lion discussion board in which someone guaranteed that a specific USB modem that they bought on eBay worked in Lion in 64-bit mode.

I generally take with a grain of salt things that people write on discussion forums, but the modem in question was only $11 ($10 after my eBay Bucks credit), and no additional charge for shipping. Only $10? Okay, I can afford to risk $10 in hopes of getting a modem that will work under Lion with System Preferences in 64-bit mode. So I strolled on over to eBay and ordered the modem.

When it arrives, I'll see if it works with 64-bit Lion. I won't panic just yet.

Update: The modem arrived, it works as claimed. See this post for my report.


  1. I found The eBay linkIn the original Apple lion support thread that you must have seen: 49146250?pt=PCC_Modems&hash=item1c1d35c08a

  2. The Apple modem uses a unique driver that was written in 32-bit code, and therefore will not load in the default 64-bit kernel that Lion runs. To get that modem working in Lion, you have the option to boot to 32-bit mode by restarting your computer and boot it with the “3” and “2” keys held down, which will load the 32-bit kernel.

    • I had read about that option. I don’t remember why now, but there was some reason I had decided that wasn’t the approach I wanted to take. It might work for some people, and thanks for sharing that information.

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