How to fix a Finder that doesn’t respond

Don’t be fooled by the name, Finder is much more than just an application for finding files. Finder, one of the key macOS utilities, helps you initiate any changes to files, folders and disks; open apps, upload desktop files and more. That’s why Mac Finder doesn’t work is a nightmare.

While there are some very powerful alternatives to Finder, some of which we’ll discuss in this article, you need to know how to fix that Mac Finder isn’t responding because this problem could completely disrupt your work in progress and basically leave your Mac frozen.

Fix Mac Finder not responding

You know something is wrong when Mac Finder doesn’t open, freezes constantly, or closes unexpectedly. Just as there are many things that could cause the Finder not to respond, there are many things you can try to solve this annoying problem.

Let’s start with the simplest – forced abandonment.

Close the Finder with Quit All

Quit All is a must for your Mac as it can “thaw” your Mac in seconds. All it does is close all applications – or selected applications – with one click. You can also use this application to close background applications, which might otherwise be difficult to close.

Why use Quit All instead of the traditional macOS Force Quit option? Three things. First of all, it’s faster. Secondly, it can help you solve the problem in case the Finder does not interfere with your Mac, but some other background application, which causes your MacBook to get stuck while loading the Finder. Finally, some users state that the Force Quit menu will not allow them to leave the Finder. This is a tricky problem that only Quit All can actually solve.

Here’s how to close the Finder – along with other apps – using Quit All:

  1. Click the Quit All icon on the menu bar
  2. Select the applications you want to close or simply select all
  3. Click the Settings> Show Background Apps icon to also close background apps
  4. Click on Quit All.

Note: By default, Quit All performs a normal exit instead of a forced shutdown. This helps you avoid losing changes to documents and applications if you leave a bunch of applications at once. But you can enable Force Quit in All’s Quit Preferences> General> Default: Forced abandonment.

If your cursor is stuck and you can’t work with Quit All, you can try accessing the Force Quit menu using the following keyboard shortcut: Command + Option + Escape. This will open a new dialog menu where you can choose Finder> Restart.

Force Quit menu

Restart the Finder through the Dock

A trick that not everyone knows about is that you can restart Finder via the Dock – basically, just like forcibly giving up. In most cases, it works fine, unless your cursor is stuck and you can’t access this option in the Dock. Here’s how to restart Finder:

  1. Right-click the Finder icon in the Dock while pressing the Option key
  2. Select Restart
  3. Wait a few seconds for the Finder to restart.

restart the Finder through the Dock

Close the Finder with Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor is a macOS utility that monitors active processes running on your Mac and can help stop some of them if needed. Here’s how to forcibly close the Finder with Activity Monitor:

  1. Find and open Activity Monitor through Spotlight
  2. Type “Finder” in the search bar
  3. Select the Finder-related process
  4. Click the X button in the upper left corner to abort the process.

forcibly close the Finder with Activity Monitor:

Remove the settings files

If you tried to quit and forcibly close, but your Finder just won’t restart properly – or it’s stuck all the time or shuts down soon after you restart it – try deleting its settings files. Setup files track all actions related to the Finder, which means that the Finder will not work if these files are damaged. You can remove the Finder settings using the Terminal:

  1. Find and open the Terminal through Spotlight
  2. Paste the following command in the terminal: rm ~ / Library / Preferences /
  3. Press Return and restart your Mac
  4. Make sure your Finder is working properly after restarting.

The finder is constantly crashing

Each of these methods should help fix a MacBook that is stuck trying to load the Finder. But if you’re unlucky and the Finder is constantly crashing and freezing – even after you’ve restarted it – there could be a more serious problem that interferes with your Mac’s well-being.

Clean the warehouse

Literally everything can go to the side on your Mac if you run out of storage space. From unexpected shutdowns to apps that behave badly – slow, freeze, close, etc. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 5GB of free storage to make your Finder work properly. But don’t aim for those 5 GB, try to free up as much space regularly with CleanMyMac X.

CleanMyMac X is the best Mac optimization tool in the world – without exaggeration – that will keep your machine fast, clutter-free and high-performance. Run Smart Scan with CleanMyMac X at least once every two weeks and it will automatically delete all system clutter, duplicates and other garbage for you. This is the most effective way to get rid of storage and fix performance issues, including Freezer Finder.

Run Smart Scan with CleanMyMac X.

Restart and run in safe mode

If you can’t get the Finder to work, let’s rest your Mac and restart it. First, go for a simple restart. In case it doesn’t help, restart and run in safe mode:

  1. Go to the Apple menu and click Restart
  2. Hold down the Shift key while your Mac starts up
  3. Release Shift when the login screen appears
  4. Sign up and check out Finder’s performance.

If you see Finder working better in safe mode, try getting rid of the login items and cleaning up your Mac – this should help. Both can be done with CleanMyMac X.

Perform a power cycle

Some sources recommend changing the power supply, disconnecting power from your Mac, and disconnecting all peripherals to remove any temporary configurations. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the Apple menu and sign out of your account (be careful not to skip this!)
  2. In the same menu, click Off
  3. Unplug the power cord as well as any peripherals from your Mac
  4. Wait about 5 minutes
  5. Press and hold the power button until you see the login screen
  6. Check the Finder after logging in. Keep your fingers running flawlessly!

Tip to fix freezing or slow Mac

The Finder is not the only one stuck.

Your Mac regularly cheats on you by freezing and slowing down is very annoying. In 80% of cases, this happens due to the large use of CPU. When CPU consumption skyrockets – meaning there are two many active processes running at the same time – you’ll see how different applications behave strangely, the Mac freezes, and so on. Fortunately, there is a universal solution.

App Tamer is an application that runs in the background, monitors active processes and tames applications that eat up too many CPUs. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy your fast Mac.

App Tamer

Replace the Finder with a better alternative

The most frustrating scenario is this. You spent 15 minutes searching for the right file in the Finder. As soon as you found it, it disappeared because the Finder unexpectedly gave up. Unfortunately, these things happen when your Finder doesn’t work properly. To avoid trouble, consider a reliable alternative that you could use in an emergency. Or, maybe even replace the Finder forever.

The default X folder will give you top-notch navigation on the menu bar for quick access to files, folders and volumes – even recent files, favorite files and active Finder windows. If you ask me, it is a re-imagined Finder with a huge number of benefits.

Default folder X

Commander One is a two-pane file manager designed for macOS. If you’ve always wanted the Finder to have that double-pane feature, here’s a good chance to make your wish come true. In addition to two panes, it has advanced search and allows you to access volumes in the cloud and network drives. All from one place.

Commander One

ForkLift is similar to Commander One. It has two panes for easy file management and transfer, as well as allows you to connect and sync with remote sources. We like its instant preview function to preview files in a special preview pane. Filepane also comes with a Finder-style sidebar so you have less learning curves if you decide to switch.


Each of these three tools will solve the problem of a MacBook stuck trying to load Finder – and you can give them all a try with a free trial of Setapp to choose the one that works best for you. Speaking of which, Setapp, a productivity package with 230+ Mac and iPhone apps, also has Quit All, CleanMyMac X and App Tamer mentioned in this article.

Whether you came here to fix a Mac Finder that doesn’t respond or the Finder unexpectedly crashes, we hope this guide was helpful. I wish you a wonderful day!

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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