Snow Leopard Services Menu Building (and building… and building… )

Having trouble with your Snow Leopard Services menu telling you that it’s building (but never finishing)? Here are a few things you can try… (UPDATED!)

  • Rescan Your Services.
    Rod Knowlton made an excellent contribution in the comment thread below — Using the PBS tool to force a rescan of Snow Leopard’s Services. This seems to be working well for most people, so I wanted to add it to the top of the list.

    To use it, open up Terminal and type or paste the following:

  • Reboot.
    I just finished talking with someone on Twitter who was trying to fix this problem and, after all of the troubleshooting steps we brainstormed, it was a reboot that got him back in business. Seriously — do this first.

  • Repair Your Permissions.
    Yes — it’s our next favorite step of troubleshooting anything on a Mac! If you aren’t sure how to do it, here’s a good guide for beginners using Apple’s own Disk Utility. Utilities like Onyx are also a dead-simple way to do a permission repair on your hard drive!
  • Manually Check Your Service List.
    Check both your ~/Library/Services and /System/Library/Services directories for old services. To quickly troubleshoot which Service is causing the hang up, move them out of the directories one by one and check the Services menu again. You’ll know that you’ve found the culprit when “Building…” is replaced by the an actual list of services. đŸ˜‰
  • Reset the LaunchServices database with a Mac Utility.
    At least one user reported fixing the issue by rebuilding the LaunchServices database. Again, utilities like Onyx allow you to do so pretty easily:
    us_onyx 2
  • Reset the LaunchServices database with a Terminal line command.
    If you’re comfortable with Terminal, you can use the command below to achieve the same thing as a utility like Onyx:

    /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user

Any Other Techniques Work For You? Share Your Fix In The Comments!

13 Responses to “Snow Leopard Services Menu Building (and building… and building… )”

  1. Furio December 16, 2009 at 1:50 pm #

    Tried rebooting and reinitializing LaunchServices but the menu is still “building”… Trying now permission repair.

    Is there any update?

  2. Justin December 16, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    Hi Furio,

    Haven’t seen any real update on this. It appears that the people who have resolved this problem have tried:

    • Removing unwanted/unneeded services
    • Repairing Permissions and Ownership of Services directories
    • Rebuilding Launch Services
    • System Restart

    The frustrating part seems to be that the “solution” has been different for many people — making it difficult to actually zero in on the source of the issue. Try doing each and all of the steps above and let us know what works/doesn’t for you. With your help, maybe we can get a little closer to figuring this one out!

  3. dogboi January 13, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    I’m not sure, but I have a theory why this is happening, at least on my machine.

    I installed CleanMyMac and slimmed up some of the universal binaries and removed some language files. It was only after this that I started seeing this problem. Could it be linked to slimming binaries or removing language files??

    • Justin January 13, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

      Interesting… wouldn’t be the first time that slimming a binary wrecked havoc (I’m looking at YOU, Microsoft Office!)

      Anyone else have the Services issue and also perhaps has used a program to free up more hard drive space?

  4. victorlamhk (siulamvictor) February 23, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    Twitter Comment

    how to repair the snow leopard services menu if it just shows “building”…… [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  5. Rod Knowlton May 10, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

    Per Apple’s Services Implementation Guide, you can trigger an immediate rescan of Services using the




    Works a charm for me.

    • Justin Lancy May 11, 2010 at 1:04 am #

      Excellent addition to the toolkit, Rod! đŸ˜€

      • Clive May 13, 2010 at 4:11 am #

        pbs tool – Just the ticket for me too! Took no time either.

        This problem had been with me occasionally, usually after a re-boot perhaps?
        Had tried using MainMenu again just before this to “Rebuild LaunchServices”
        It came up with two identical error reports that might help to zero in on things …
        CoreEndianFlipData: error -4940 returned for rsrc type open (id 128, length 12, native=no)
        The operation in MainMenu took a couple of minutes to complete too.
        I had noticed (and ignored these two errors) when doing general cleanups with MainMenu over the past few months.

        • Chuck Lamprey June 10, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

          Woohoo! pbs worked for me as well…maybe I should give them some money during their next pledge drive. đŸ˜‰

          (Seriously, pbs did the trick for me! Thank you!)

    • Mike in Maine May 26, 2010 at 1:15 am #

      Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Finally, a solution that worked for me! Bless you, if you’re into that sort of thing. Thanks.

  6. guy July 28, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Nice one. I’ve had this problem since installing 10.6. Have tried all manner of solutions the only one that worked being logging out & back in which is an ugly solution & one I resented no end. Especially as I was usually halfway through something.

    I even brought it up in the Apple shop once, receiving the inevitable & immortal “Third party software, can only suggest an erase & install”. Which in my experience seems to be Genius bar solution to most problems.

    Anyway, like the man said, your pbs trick works like a charm. No need to ever log out & back in again unless I want too.


  7. Syd August 23, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    Logging out has worked consistently.
    OnyX, nice as it is, didn’t work for me.
    PBS seemed to hang. I’l try it again as this would be a much more elegant solution than logging out.