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A workaround for constant Finder crashes after login Desktop
I have had this same problem occur quite a bit in the last couple of months at my work, where I support many Mac labs and Mac laptops. I have seen this on several machines where you log in and the Finder just crashes and you get the spinning beach ball of death. If you log into a new user account (we have hidden accounts for diagnosis and administrative use), the OS runs absolutely fine. So you immediately think it is a problem with the user account. You do all the standard troubleshooting of clearing out .plist files, caches, application data, temp files, etc. However the problem persists.

While troubleshooting this issue, I decided to enable fast user switching (FUS) so I could log back into my admin account to make system changes in a timely manner. I noticed once I enabled fast user switching and switched from my working account to the account in question, all was suddenly well again. I have duplicated this method on several other machines at work, too. These range from intel iMacs, G4 to G5 desktops, G4 iBooks, G4 powerbooks, Macbooks, and Macbook Pros.

So if anyone runs into this issue where all the standard troubleshooting methods do not work, log into a different user account, enable FUS, and then switch from a good known user, then switch to the user in question and then it works. I have no idea why this works, but it works and saved me from having to target mode and back up data and reimage because the user forgot to back up their data on the network drive.

[robg adds: I can't test this one, but it seems there must still be a user-related issue at work if the Finder is crashing on login. As a temporary fix, FUS may get the job done, but the bigger issue will still need to be resolved.]
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Why is this a hint?
Authored by: SOX on Jul 30, '07 09:20:26AM

This is just a mystery problem with a mystery solution that deserves to be on the forum not a hint.

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Why is this a hint?
Authored by: Fairly on Jul 30, '07 03:16:36PM

True. And the complete cure is Path Finder or Xfile and then you really have no worries anymore. And that's a forum issue not a hint.

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My Suspicions as to the "Crash"
Authored by: mustang_dvs on Jul 30, '07 09:28:42AM

I doubt you've experienced a Finder "crash" (unless a dialog tells you, in point of fact, that the Finder has undexpectedly quit or is no longer responding). More than likely, you're experiencing a temporary hang while:

  • the Finder attempts to connect to an unavailable network share at startup,
  • Spotlight attempts to index the drive, or
  • an intensive background task that would normally run as a chron job, like deleting a massive TMP or Cache directory takes place.
FUS relies on the SystemUIServer to be running, which, generally doesn't happen if the Finder crashes or encounters a DiskIO issue.

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A workaround for constant Finder crashes after login
Authored by: mm2270 on Jul 30, '07 01:00:35PM

In my experience with issues like this, it usually has to do with an item in the users Login Items list. The OS is trying to run something in that list at login and it causes the Finder to freak out.

That's probably why logging in under a different account makes the issue go away. Different login items list for that other account.

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A workaround for constant Finder crashes after login
Authored by: michaelj on Jul 30, '07 01:01:28PM

When I've run up against this type of issue, booting into that account in Safe Mode then restarting has fixed it for me every time.

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Bad User Account in NetInfo?
Authored by: Paul Burney on Jul 30, '07 01:15:29PM

Sounds a bit like a problem I once had after migrating into a G5 tower from a Powerbook that had itself been being migrated from 10.1 to 10.2 to 10.3 to 10.4.

Everything about the account seemed to work fine but switching between applications would be very slow (1 or 2 seconds). I tried deleting all the user prefs but it still had the same problem with that account. New accounts were fine, though. I tried turning off all extra extensions, login items, menubar items, etc, restarting in safe mode and nothing worked.

Finally, I opened up NetInfo manager from the Utilities folder and noticed that some of the fields between old and new accounts weren't the same. I was able to basically rename my "user" account to "baduser", then rename the "newuser" account to "user". I quit NetInfo manager, saving the new database. Then I changed the permissions on my home folder from the command line:

chown -R user /Users/user

And the account then worked (and has continued to work for 6 months) beautifully.

Perhaps enabling Fast User Switching fixes something in the NetInfo system?

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Bad User Account in NetInfo?
Authored by: mustang_dvs on Jul 31, '07 01:35:08PM
How exactly did you "migrate" these machines?

Did you use the OS X migration assistant, a cloner, or simply drag 'n drop?

If you simply dragged files between machines, it's more than likely that in so doing, you changed permissions in the process, hence the "screwy" NetInfo database and user file behavior.

In the future, I wouldn't suggest editing the NetInfo database, unless you know exactly what it is that you're doing, especially if you're comparing one version of NetInfo to another (10.2 vs 10.3, etc) to solve a problem.

Also, when providing example commands, make it obvious to potentially inexperienced readers that a directory name is an example, such as:

sudo chown -R your_short_username /Users/your_home_folder_name

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A workaround for constant Finder crashes after login
Authored by: macdavid on Jul 30, '07 01:40:07PM

Excellent, I've had this happen quite a few times. Unexplicably. To troubleshoot, I temporarily moved the whole library so no login item of any kind was involved, still no luck. I had to create a new user and copy settings and documents from the "bad" one to the new one. I'll definitely try FUS next time it happens.

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A workaround for constant Finder crashes after login
Authored by: sEEKz on Jul 31, '07 07:14:53AM
I had a similar problem, but it was because of an hidden file on the users ~/Desktop directory.

See here for the fix: Possible fix for Finder that keeps on crashing and restarting....

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A workaround for constant Finder crashes after login
Authored by: belgarion26 on Jul 31, '07 08:59:22AM

We have this problem with 10.4 if Photoshop crashes, and the mac is powered off and on, the user profile will not load. Sometimes clearing the cache solves the problem, sometimes not. Re-creating accounts is becoming a pain.. I'll try this next time, although we have FUS on already, and I've tried switching and it doesn;t help. Maybe I'll "turn it off and on again"..

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A workaround for constant Finder crashes after login
Authored by: thornezilla on Jul 31, '07 09:41:44AM

I've seen this in our corporate environment - always caused by the user putting a network resource (usually a file server mount) in the sidebar of the Finder window. If the network resource is changed or unavailable, the Finder stalls out at the desktop before it can open any Finder windows.

The fix is to go in via Terminal and delete the "" file from the user's Library/Preferences directory.

And tell your users to put the file server mounts in the dock, right next to the Trash icon -- they mount well when clicked and don't cause any issues when unavailable.

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