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May 27, 2003


Launch Services Cache Corruption

In the first what is sure to be an ongoing series of entries on how Mac OS X sucks, I’ll describe an issue I came across recently and how I solved it.
Yesterday I restarted my PowerBook (which is running Mac OS X 10.2.6) and found that I could not log in. The login dialog would appear, it would go through the motions, then disappear, then finally reappear.
I suspected that something early in the login process was crashing so hard it was taking down the login process itself. After a couple hours of snooping, and some luck (I was able to ssh in from another machine and watch the system log report the crashes), I discovered that Launch Services’ cache was corrupted, and was causing lsregister to seg fault. Removing that file (/Library/Caches/ allowed login to proceed normally.
Update (2009-03-10): Thanks to this post, I now know that the filenames have changed in more recent OS releases. Launch Services caches information per-user, in files of the form<uid>.csstore, where <uid> should be replaced with the user ID of the user with which you’re having trouble (my default user ID was 501).

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  1. Aug 9 2003

    I just wanted to thank you for this post. I began to experience this login issue today, and spent more time than I care to admit trying to figure it out. I found a few other weird things running Disk Utility from cd (overlapped extent allocations), but the login issue continued after resolving those. After a few Google searches, I found your post, and my login issue is now resolved.
    Thanks again.

  2. Andrew
    Sep 8 2003

    I would also like to thank you. I had the same problem as blah, due to the fact that i’d let myself run ridiculously low on space. I had determined (through looking at which crash logs were updated) that the problem was with lsregister or lsrecenttool, but was afraid i’d have to reinstall my whole damn system.
    Interesting sidenote: it seems that inducing some sort of dialog box bypasses this corrupted login cache and lets you log in. For example, I was able to log in by starting up with an external HD on, then switching it off, prompting the “you’ve removed a drive. you are a bad person” dialog box, which seemed to trigger login.
    In any case, THANK YOU!

  3. Jose Luis
    Sep 28 2003

    I just want also thank you for your post. I have spent two days trying to get my os x to log in, but only got the same bad result. I have been reading about people having the same problem and resolving it by a similar way (deleting preferences files, the .plist ones under home directories), etc. But thanks to you now I am not going to wipe my disk ;)
    But I still keep thinking how did you found that that f***ing file was corrupt? Maybe by doing a ‘find / -inum xxxxx’ after running fsck?
    Thank you very much.
    Jose Luis Garcia

  4. Luke Rodies
    Feb 28 2009

    Thanks for this posting. My wife was having this problem. (login loop). Luckily, I had a second admin account on her machine. From the command line in the second account, I su(d) into her account and renamed the associated ‘csstore’ file. The problem is resolved.

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