Originally Web posted Tuesday, 3 July 2007.
Content last modified Saturday, 9 January 2021 .
External links last verified Tuesday, 3 July 2007.

A Cause Of, and Cure For, -116 Error in Extensions Manager

Whether you call it -116 or minus 116, seems that many folks running Mac OS 9 or OS 8 (maybe even OS/System 7) have been afflicted with the following:

“An error (-116) occurred while trying to create your text settings file. Try saving the file in another folder.”

Yet, trying again and saving the file anywhere produces the same result: same error and a nice empty SimpleText file of 332 bytes in size (all in the resource fork). Wassup with that?!

The Cause

Congratulations, you’ve overloaded Extensions Manager!Grin.

Seems that the Save Set as Text… command in Extensions Manager (at least version 4.x) chokes if there are more than 324 items to be listed in the text file. Why 324?: i have no idea. Further discussion lies below.

The Cure (no, not the band)

Temporarily (or not, as you wish) remove items from any of the following places inside the System Folder until the total is 324 or fewer:

Usually, the biggest chunks will be one or both of Extensions and Extensions (Disabled). Just grab a bunch and move them somewhere else, like a temporary folder out on the desktop.

“But I need to have all those items listed!”

Tell me about it! Stop whining and follow the logic: Extensions Manager has a bug. It will never be fixed. Get Over It. I suggest the following workaround:

  1. Quit any other running programs, leaving only the Finder. This is generally good advice when changing extension sets: Some programs will crash if their extensions and/or control panels with INIT code are moved while they are running.
  2. Temporarily remove one or more of the folders listed above to somewhere else (like the desktop), so that the total of the remaining items is under 324.
  3. Open Extensions Manager. Save the incomplete list as usual. Quit Extensions Manager.
    (Note that Extensions Manager will re-create empty versions of the folder(s) you removed.)
  4. Remove all the folders which were just listed.
  5. Replace the one or more folders originally removed and not currently in the incomplete list. Since new, empty versions have been created, Mac OS will ask you if you want to replace the existing items: Yes.
  6. Re-open Extensions Manager. Save this second incomplete list (do not overwrite the previous list file!: give it a different name). Quit Extensions Manager.
  7. Put all the folders back where they belong. OK replacing the new, empty folder which were created.
  8. Open both incomplete lists in your preferred text editor and merge their contents into either one of the files.
  9. Save.
  10. Delete the other file, still incomplete, to avoid confusion.

You may try leaving Extensions Manager running if you wish. I sometimes had crashes or similar trouble when doing so.

Congratulations! You have worked around Apple’s bug and have a complete list!

The Research

Having found nothing useful online outside of this one post and the unhelpful knowledge that a -116 error is “memSCErr Size Check failed” in the category of Storage Allocator Errors, i chose to blow away two days of my life researching the problem. Extensive testing was performed on a Power Mac 9600/350 running OS 9.1 (upon which i am composing this web page) with both the OS 9.1 stock Extensions Manager 4.0.4 and 4.0.5 control panel and EM extension (respectively), and the newest 4.0.8 and 4.0.7 control panel and EM extension (respectively). Limited and brief testing was done on a G4 AGP (Sawtooth) running OS 9.2.2 with the latter version pair. Testing was done both on several squeaky clean OS 9.1 installs and my daily-use system, which is basically tons of updated pieces for OS 9.2.2 or later (from various Classic Compatibility Environment OS X updates) with close-to-stock System, Finder, and System Resources files.

There really is no point in listing all of the zillions of tests done, dead ends, and so forth. Here is the sum total of what i learned:

On that last point, Extensions Manager seems to need to have access to the Apple Guide extension. It is fine if that extension is disabled, as long as it is disabled where Extensions Manager will see it. If EM cannot find this extension, EM will either hang or solidly freeze the Mac as it attempts to launch, before it draws its window. If you are having a hang or freeze problem with Extensions Manager when you try to launch it, be sure to check that the Apple Guide extension is in one of the following OK places:

OK Places

Not OK Places: Anywhere Else, including

Anything Else?

That’s all i have. If you have more information on -116 errors related to the Vintage Mac OS or programs which run on it, let me know… especially if you find/make another page with meaningful discussion of this error.