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:
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?!
Congratulations, you’ve overloaded Extensions Manager!
Seems that the
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:
- Extensions folder
- Control Panels folder
- Startup Items folder
- Shutdown Items folder
- Items loose in the System Folder which get listed in the Extensions Manager window (“System Extensions”)
- Extensions (Disabled) folder
- Control Panels (Disabled) folder
- Startup Items (Disabled) folder
- Shutdown Items (Disabled) folder
- System Extensions (Disabled) folder
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Remove all the folders which were just listed.
- 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.
- Re-open Extensions Manager. Save this second incomplete list (do not overwrite the previous list file!: give it a different name). Quit Extensions Manager.
- Put all the folders back where they belong. OK replacing the new, empty folder which were created.
- Open both incomplete lists in your preferred text editor and merge their contents into either one of the files.
- 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!
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:
- The -116 error is triggered when there are more than 324 total items to be listed in the text file, as described above.
- The size of the text file is well below the well-known 32k limit of the TextEdit routine of the Vintage Mac OS (not to be confused with the OS X program of the same name). The biggest file i generated in my tests was 16,115 bytes, and i expect bigger files are possible if everything listed has abnormally long file names.
- Increasing the RAM memory allocation to Extensions Manager had no effect on the 324 item limit.
- Unlike my original supposition, the -116 error has nothing at all to do with any part of the wackiness of my daily-use OS 9.1: same error under the same conditions with a bone-pure OS 9.1 and its offical shipping 4.0.4/4.0.5 control panel and extension versions.
- None of the usual by-rote incantations such as zapping PRAM, rebuilding the desktop, nor any others have any effect on the -116 error.
- Extensions Manager set 4.0.4/4.0.5 was more crash-prone than 4.0.8/4.0.7, even though the latter is not officially supported by Apple on OS 9.1. This makes sense: that last digit is most often a bugfix, with a higher number vaguely implying more bugs fixed (and maybe new ones introduced, esp. on non-tested, non-supported older systems). It was my experience while working at Apple in the mid-late 1990s that often there would be fixes for bugs in older systems, even for items not released in a way officially supporting, or at least not publicly deployed to, the older systems. So far, i have found zero downside to using the newer Extensions Manager set with OS 9.1, and some upside in my recent tests in terms of fewer lockups.
- Both of the version sets i tested, and i am guessing any 4.x versions of the Extensions Manager set, will lock up if the Apple Guide extension is not where they expect it to be. More discussion on this below.
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:
- Extensions folder
- Extensions (Disabled) folder
- Loose in the System Folder
Not OK Places: Anywhere Else, including
- On the desktop
- Inside any other folder with any other name, even if this folder is inside the System Folder (my folder “Deep Extensions (Disabled)” failed to work)
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.