Help! Finder is not responding on Mac

4 min read

When Finder is not responding on your Mac, it makes you realize just how much we rely on this critical file management tool. Finder brings navigation and file management to our fingertips, helps us find and launch applications, stay organized, connect to network resources, etc.

So when Finder suddenly refuses to stop working, I bet you get pretty frustrated. But don't sweat it! I'll show you all the troubleshooting tips to get Finder up and running in this article. Let's start!

Did you know? Finder has been around since the dawn of Macintosh and was given its name by the original Apple Macintosh design team member, Bud Tribble. 

Before we jump into tips and fixes for Finder, let's first look at some of the common reasons Finder won't open or respond.

  1. Corrupted Finder or System Preferences configurations.

  2. Low storage space on your Mac.

  3. User profile errors. 

  4. Spotlight indexing issue.

Here are seven efficient troubleshooting tips to get Finder working, no matter the reasons.

Finder not responding troubleshooting tips

1. Relaunch Finder

Let's start with the most obvious tip. If Finder won't relaunch and there is no way you can get it to respond, it could have been stuck in the background. Sometimes, a simple Relaunch can solve the issue. Here’s what you should do:

Force quit apps

  1. Select the main Apple Menu > Force Quit.

  2. From the list, select Finder and press Relaunch. 

Suppose Finder is still unresponsive, head to the next tip.

2. Basic Mac Maintenace 

Regular Mac maintenance is essential to keep devices optimized and running smoothly. When we let system logs and temporary files build-up, we lose valuable space, and applications stop working correctly. Finder is no exception. The good news is it can be fixed by simply running some basic maintenance. 

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of manually running maintenance scripts, as it involves patience and Terminal. I prefer to use the Apple notarized third-party tool CleanMyMac X instead. They have a simple Maintenance Module, which can run scripts in just a few clicks. Here's how:

Maintenance Scripts in CleanMyMac X

  1. Launch the application—download the free version here.

  2. Select Maintenace from the sidebar.

  3. Press View all Tasks.

  4. Select Run Maintenance Scripts, then press Run.

If you'd rather not use a third-party tool, check out this great article on running maintenance scripts manually with Terminal.

3. Power cycling 

A power cycle is another term for a forced restart of your Mac. As simple as it sounds, it can solve many bugs and glitches, such as unresponsive apps, so it's worth a shot. Here's how:

  1. Keep the power button pressed down until your Mac shuts down.

  2. Continue holding the power button and remove the power adaptor.

  3. Hold down for another 10 seconds, then restart your Mac.

4. Check available storage

If your Mac is low on storage, then you'll encounter many issues, including apps not working, slowing down, or becoming unresponsive. Heres' how to check your storage:

How to check storage on Mac

Press the main Apple menu > About This Mac > Storage.

Once loaded, you'll see a breakdown of your available space. If you're running low, this is likely the cause of your problems with Finder. Select the Manage button and enable Apple's built-in storage optimization recommendations to start reclaiming space. 

Low disk space will ultimately cause multiple Mac performance issues, so before you move on, I recommend spending some time cleaning up your Mac. 

Other tips to reclaim storage on your Mac:

  • Remove Desktop clutter.

  • Delete large files in your Downloads folder.

  • Remove unused or unnecessary applications.

  • Transfer media like photos to an external hard drive.

For more tips on freeing up space on your Mac, read this handy article

5. Log out and log back in

Logging out and logging back in is another way to solve issues like Finder not responding. This troubleshooting tip essentially Force Quits all running applications, and when you log back in, it resets the processes. 

Here's how to log out and back in:

How to log out of the system

  1. Select the main Apple Manu > Log out.

  2. Select Log out in the confirmation box.

  3. To log back in, enter your password.

6. Rebuild the Spotlight index

If you're having issues with Finder search not working, a great hack is to reindex Spotlight, which essentially forces the tool to reregister every file on your Mac. It's a no-brainer to do, and here's how:

How to reindex Spotlight

  1. Select the main Apple Menu > System Preferences > Spotlight > Privacy.

  2. Now, open a new Finder window from the sidebar, locate your device and drag the internal disk folder over to the Spotlight Privacy tab. 

  3. Your Mac will now appear on the list. Select it, then press the minus button to remove it.

  4. Exit System Preferences and close Finder, wait for Spotlight to reindex.

Spotlight can take a while to reindex all your files and folders, so don't panic if it takes too long. 

Try my final tip for today if all other tips didn’t get Finder working again. 

7. Reset Finder

If reindexing Spotlight search didn’t help, it's time to reset Finder. 

The most straightforward way to do this is with the app I mentioned earlier in the article, CleanMyMac X. Here's how:

  1. Launch the app, select CleanMyMac X > Preferences > Ignore List.CleanMyMac's ignore list

  2. Select Uninstaller from the sidebar and uncheck the Ignore system applications checkbox.

  3. Go back to CleanMyMac X, select Uninstaller from the sidebar, and click View All Applications.

  4. Locate Finder in the list on the dropdown, then press the Reset button.

Safari reset selected in the Uninstaller module in CMMX

That will reset Finder and its associated files, hopefully ending your Finder struggles for good.

So now you know what to do if Finder is not responding on your Mac. See you again soon for more stress-free Mac tips and hacks.

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