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Use the Dock as a 'last chance' Finder fixer System
On very rare occasions, the OS X Finder will lock up and not respond to keyboard or mouse actions. It happened to me tonight when I tried to move 300+ items from my iDisk to a SCSI SyQuest drive - I'm not sure if it was a bug in iDisk, the Finder, or the SCSI drivers. In any event, the Finder showed only the spinning rainbow, and clicking on it in the Dock revealed an "Application not responding" message. The machine was still quite usable (other open apps were doing fine and were fully responsive), but I wasn't sure how to resolve the Finder problem -- I couldn't launch any new applications (such as the Terminal or Process Viewer) since the Finder was unresponsive.

In addition, the usual escape route (command-option-escape) wasn't functional. The dialog box would not show up on the screen, regardless of which app was in the foreground.

I could have used another computer to connect and quit the Finder via "ps aux" and "kill", but that seemed like cheating. The only app I had in my dock (the only way I had to start programs) that wasn't running was CPU Monitor. On a lark, I launched it and noticed that it has two very useful menu items for troubleshooting system lockups - under the Processes menu, you can choose "Open Process Viewer" or "Open Top".

Either one of these was enough to solve my problem -- opening Top launches the Terminal, from where I could open a new window and use "ps aux" and "kill" to relaunch the Finder, or I could (as I did) use ProcessViewer to do it directly.

The moral of the story? To prevent a Finder lockup from rendering your machine unusable, keep one of CPU Monitor, Terminal, or ProcessViewer in your dock at all times. My personal choice is CPU Monitor, since I can get to either of the other apps through CPU Monitor. With one of these apps in your dock, you should (barring a dock lockup!) be able to launch a program to help you restart the Finder.

The nice aspect of working in OS X, of course, was that everything was back to completely normal once I restarted the Finder -- and, much to my amazement, I found that the copy that had locked the Finder had actually completed!
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Use the Dock as a 'last chance' Finder fixer | 3 comments | Create New Account
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Authored by: spyro_le_dragon on Aug 15, '01 10:48:09AM

I may not understand everything, but did you ever try
to push the Command-Control-Escape key combination??
Then you can 'relaunch' the finder and if it does not
work, do it again (it will say "force quit" this time).

However there are some desperate cases: I recently had a finder
freeze but soon discovered that in fact my G4 did not want to
launch any application at all.

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Forgot that part...
Authored by: robg on Aug 15, '01 11:41:06AM

I forgot to mention that when I posted last night - cmd-opt-esc wasn't working either. Very strange. I've now updated the story with that fact...


[ Reply to This | # ]
Forgot that part...
Authored by: ppmax on Aug 15, '01 01:39:39PM

ive kept a shortcut to the terminal in the doc since day 1--mainly to force myself to try and use it on occaision. im new to unix, but have found it indespensible for a whole range of tasks including su'ing as other users, root, etc.

...which brings up a good point: it would be really nice if we could have multiple desktops. you can kind of hack this by creating new users for each kind of specialized environment you may need. then config the UI to suit the task at hand in each user environment. the only problem is that you have to log out each time (which means quitting everything) :(


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