How to Fix a Non-Responsive Finder on Your Mac

The Finder is the default GUI shell and file manager present in all Mac systems. It’s integral for launching applications and managing files and disks.

Finder Not Responding - macOS
Finder Not Responding – macOS

However, users sometimes encounter issues where Finder stops responding. It may get stuck on the screen, or its window may display as ‘not responding.’ This is a common problem experienced by users worldwide.

In this article, we will explore the potential causes of this issue and outline possible solutions to resolve it.

After thorough user report reviews and investigations, we’ve identified several reasons why this issue may occur on your Mac:

  • Bad configuration of Finder: Finder’s internal configuration may become corrupt, leading to operational issues.
  • Indexing: While indexing aids in file retrieval, it can sometimes slow down the Finder.
  • Low storage: Some MacBook models offer lower storage options, which might lead to a slower Finder as space reduces.
  • Corrupt preferences: If Finder’s preference files are corrupt or incomplete, performance may be affected.
  • User profile errors: A user profile in an error state can cause various problems, including Finder malfunctions. Logging in again can sometimes resolve these issues.
  • Third-party plugins: While Apple discourages the installation of unverified plugins, users may overlook this advice, leading to potential conflicts with Finder.

Before we start with the solutions, ensure that you are logged in as an administrator and have saved all your work, as we will be restarting the system frequently.

Solution 1: Restarting the Finder

The first troubleshooting step is to restart Finder. At times, due to a bad configuration or temporary data, Finder may exhibit unusual behavior or enter an error state like the ‘Not responding’ issue at hand.

First, try Force Quitting Finder from its drop-down menu:

  1. Open Finder. It should be the active application on your Mac.
  2. Hold the Shift key, click on the Apple icon, and select Force Quit Finder.
    Force Quitting Mac Finder
    Force Quitting Mac Finder
  3. If Finder doesn’t restart automatically, manually open it to check its functionality.

If the above method fails, try using the Force Quit Applications window:

  1. Press CMD + Option + Esc on your keyboard.
  2. In the list of running applications, find Finder and click Relaunch.
    Relaunching the Finder - macOS
    Relaunching the Finder – macOS
  3. Check if Finder is now functioning correctly.

Alternatively, you can relaunch Finder from the Dock:

  1. While holding the Option key, right-click on Finder in the Dock.
  2. Select Relaunch. Finder should automatically relaunch and hopefully operate normally.

Solution 2: Ending the Process from Activity Monitor

macOS includes a built-in utility called Activity Monitor that gives insight into what processes are running on your Mac. If Finder is not responding, it may be in an error state or experiencing configuration issues. Using Activity Monitor can help identify and resolve the issue.

  1. Open the Finder and go to the following path:
Searching for Activity Monitor - macOS
Searching for Activity Monitor – macOS

Alternatively, use Spotlight by pressing Command + Spacebar and search for “Activity Monitor.”

  1. Locate Activity Monitor, open it, and end the task or restart the process.
    Ending Activity Monitor Task
    Ending Activity Monitor Task
  2. Relaunch Finder afterward and verify if the issue persists.

Solution 3: Deleting the Preferences Files

Corrupt preferences can cause Finder to malfunction. These preference files store Finder’s settings and actions. In the following solution, we will delete the preference files using Terminal in macOS. Note that this action will reset Finder to its default settings, and any custom preferences will be lost.

Important: Save all work before proceeding, as a restart will be required.

  1. Open the Terminal application from Applications > Utilities, or by performing a Spotlight search for Terminal.
    Launching Terminal - macOS
    Launching Terminal – macOS
  2. Execute the following command in Terminal to delete Finder’s preferences, ensuring you have administrative privileges:
    sudo rm ~/Library/Preferences/
    Deleting Finder Preferences
    Deleting Finder Preferences
  1. Restart your computer and try opening Finder again to see if the issue is resolved.

Solution 4: Power Cycling Your Mac

Power cycling can resolve issues caused by corrupt or incomplete temporary configurations. Ensure all data is saved prior to carrying out this action.

  1. Log out of your profile and shut down your Mac.
  2. Disconnect the power cable and all peripherals, and wait for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Press and hold the power button to turn on the computer, log in, and attempt to launch Finder to check if the problem has been resolved.

Solution 5: Clearing Storage

A low storage situation may cause Finder to behave erratically. Although some MacBook models offer high-speed SSDs, their storage capacity might be lower than that of other computers. Ensuring you have adequate free space on your operating system is essential.

Clearing Mac Storage Space
Clearing Mac Storage Space

Remove unnecessary files, such as large media files, and empty the Recycle Bin. If needed, use disk cleaning utilities to free up more space. After securing at least 5-6 GB of free storage, restart your computer and try using Finder again.

Solution 6: Checking Third-Party Plugins

Incompatibilities with third-party plugins can lead to Finder issues. If you suspect a plugin conflict, identify and uninstall the problematic application.

  1. Go to the Applications folder, switch the view to List, and review all installed applications.
  2. Select and uninstall any application you suspect may be causing the issue.
    Uninstalling Mac Application
    Uninstalling Mac Application
  3. Afterwards, restart your Mac and open Finder to test if the problem has been fixed.

Solution 7: Resetting Mac to Factory Settings

If the problem persists, restoring your Mac to factory settings could be the final solution. This process requires backing up your data as it will erase your storage. Only proceed after ensuring your files and application configurations are secured.

  1. To enter Recovery Mode, restart your Mac and hold the command + R keys.
  2. Select Disk Utility, choose your startup disk, and click Erase. Set the format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) as prompted.
    Resetting Mac to Factory Settings
    Resetting Mac to Factory Settings
  3. Exit Disk Utility and select Reinstall macOS from the recovery menu to start the reinstallation process. By the end of the process, Finder should be working correctly.

Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.