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Disservices

'Twas but a hack.


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The new services module for Snow Leopard is supposed to look better and appeal more to 'the rest of them' but it's not really ready for prime time. The code backing this facility up is more like a hack than a completed project.

Everything is fine as long as you take what you're given and don't try to use the services in the way they were intended. You get cute little categories and cute little icons in a flat display (which breaks as soon as you wax sophisticated). Use only that and you'll be fine. Knock on wood.

But try to add to what you've been given, add your own services, introduce applications of your own with their own services, and the system can easily break.

The worst part about this is that Apple's own support staff don't seem to know what the problem is or how to solve it. And at the bottom of this heap of rubble is some pretty crappy code. There are caches all over the place that no one really knows that much about, caches that override your own changes in configuration settings, and the end result can often be that you witness that rude alert that your services are corrupt and you should contact your vendor.

People who've tired of pulling out their hair over this impossible situation and contacted Apple get some really weird responses. The following seems to be the general suggested work-around for this nonsense.

  • Delete com.apple.services.plist.
  • Delete com.apple.universalaccess.plist.
  • Delete com.apple.systempreferences.plist.
  • Delete ~/Library/Caches (the entire folder).
  • Reset PRAM and eliminate your login items.

YMMV but this doesn't seem to be that helpful a solution. Most of the above doesn't really apply to maladies besetting the rickety Apple services code. And it's unnecessarily destructive as well.

The effective way to do this (again YMMV) is to attack the culprits where they hide - that is: in your almost inaccessible /private/var/folders hive. There are countless SQL cache files in there. Some of them deal with services.

But to get at them you have to be root. And it's a lugubrious process. You can reboot into SUM, mount your file system as writeable, and work from there. You can boot into an alternative OS, escalate, and work from there. You shouldn't try to attack these files whilst you're running the same system.

Take out everything that looks remotely suspicious. Files with the extension 'db'. You've a lot of directories to drill down into; be sure you get them all.

Now go to your ~/Library/Caches and remove com.apple.nsservicescache.plist. Then go to ~/Library/Preferences and remove pbs.plist. Then reboot into your system and reconfigure your services all over again.

This is a harmless method if done correctly. It does take time and it is a royal pain. But until Apple get their act together with respect to the services this might be the only option you have.

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