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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor System
I don't know why this works, but it does seem to work like magic: When you have an application hang, try launching Activity Monitor. When I do this, especially with hangs in Photoshop, within seconds, the application resumes. Sometimes I've waited and waited, as long as maybe 10 minutes or more, for an application to come out of the "beach ball" mode on its own. Then, after launching Activity Monitor, I would hear the hard drive churn, and the application would become responsive again.

This works on both my Mac Pro (Intel) and my PowerBook G4 at home. I have no clue why it works. I know it doesn't seem to make sense, why an application that monitors processes would have any effect on them. But it works like a charm many times. Of course, there are times when it doesn't work either, but it's worth a shot.

[robg adds: This is the first I've heard of Activity Monitor releasing an app from beach ball land through the simple act of running it. If anyone else has had similar experiences, please share.]
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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: Chanoine on Feb 19, '08 07:54:44AM

Amazingly, it worked for me several times since Tiger; sometimes it's necessary to "Sample Process" or "Inspect" to get the trick working.



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: turnitaround on Feb 19, '08 08:06:17AM

I have used AM to get processes that are hung moving again, but it does not always get the application running 100%. It does allow one to quite the app normally and restart it without having to force quite and loose work.
I can only guess that with the 10.5 update came changes that developers will need to adapt to. and im sure it will cost me more $ to upgrade to the stable app.

MBP 2.4 17HD 4GB RAM OSX 10.5.2



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: Stormchild on Feb 19, '08 11:25:57AM

I very much doubt that this actually does anything; I think it is just a coincidence. If anything, opening Activity Monitor gives you something to do while the app finishes whatever it was doing, so you don't get impatient and force-quit a program thinking it has locked up, when it is really just taking awhile to perform some task. More often than not it is probably just a delay caused by swapping memory to/from disk, as this tends to cause very long delays when you get low on memory and/or disk space.



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incredible but true?
Authored by: bogdescu on Feb 19, '08 03:28:42PM

It doesn't make much sense indeed, but it *seemed* to work for me a few times. I admit this puts me in line with those who saw a pink ufo and promise to seek appropriate help if this happens again, as I don't see any logical explanation for it.



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: Quatch on Feb 19, '08 12:04:29PM

Actually, I've noticed the same thing by going to dashboard. i've got istat pro installed, and it does have a process listing.



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: robogobo on Feb 19, '08 12:58:19PM

I have iStat Pro also, and I remember this working in Tiger as well. It never occurred to me to post a hint, and I had forgotten about this since. To the "serious doubters", this is more than just passing time. AM and iStat query and sample activities. This is sometimes enough to wake up a hung app and get it moving again, long enough to save and close. Remember, hung applications aren't necessarily crashed; they're usually just waiting for something that they can't access.



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: Stormchild on Feb 19, '08 05:13:35PM

Actually, Activity Monitor, iStat, etc. do not query, sample, or communicate in any other way with individual programs. All they do is run the command line program "top", and display the output (open up Terminal and try it for yourself; just type "top" and hit return for a similar list which updates in realtime). Merely running "top" will not "wake up" a process that is hung. The process will either finish what it's doing or not.

The only time Activity Monitor actually talks to a program is when you tell it to run a sample on that program. Nothing like that happens automatically, and in any case, iStat does not have this function at all, so if people are saying that iStat "fixes" hung process too, then it would have nothing to do with taking samples. Taking a sample from a program might provide some insight as to what it's doing, but again, this is not going to "wake up" a frozen process.

Although anything is possible, I still contend that any process that magically "wakes up" because you ran "top" would have finished whatever it was doing whether you did that or not, and that this "trick" does not actually do anything. At least until someone can definitively prove it.



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: Baby Bloc on Feb 20, '08 04:19:54AM

These are interesting anecdotes. If one wanted to add evidence, what logs would help show what caused an app to "un-hang?" Wouldn't they show (or not) the influence of AM or another "trigger?"

I can't add my own story of the wondrous AM. Since I keep it running all the time, I haven't seen it's effects when opened on a hung ap.



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: asmeurer on Feb 19, '08 07:14:08PM

So if this really does work, one would only need to run a top command to execute it, correct?



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: johnsawyercjs on Mar 19, '08 07:43:25PM

If so, that would be nice, since running Activity Monitor, at least on my dual G4 Mirrored Drive Doors, uses about 25% of one of the processors (about 10% for Activity Monitor itself, and about 15% for its companion pmTool), but running top in Terminal uses "only" about 15% of one processor (about 13% for Terminal, and about 2% for top itself).



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: bobo23 on Feb 19, '08 08:43:41PM

I have had a similar "weird" benefit from Activity Monitor.

There are times when force quit just doesn't kill a beach-balled app. But a "quit process" through Activity Monitor always does the trick.



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: johnsawyercjs on Feb 19, '08 11:35:47PM

I wouldn't consider being able to kill a process by using Activity Monitor's option to do that, as weird--that's what the option is there for.



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: alpayerturkmen on Feb 20, '08 12:49:15AM

I have had such experiences when I was using Windows where I would fire up Task Manager to intimidate the hanging process. Never had the opportunity to do that on a Mac though ;)
http://www.unofficialmac.com



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: TGV on Feb 20, '08 01:02:19AM

Yesterday I saw Powerpoint beachballing during a presentation. When the system was switched to another app and back, it resumed working, and something similar has happened to me once or twice. This might be related to the solution mentioned above.

It could be that an application gets stuck in its main loop waiting for something that is managed at system level. If the system is confused or out-of-sync (think pseudo-deadlock here, e.g. on a shared resource, such as "full screen"), then kicking the system may just lift the blockade and let the program continue.

It would be a bug somewhere in the kernel, and a difficult one to trap...



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: ateazz on Feb 20, '08 02:19:27AM

Heya,

I had the same thing with Quicktime and iTunes.
So i'll wait before hitting force quit



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: luigi193 on Feb 20, '08 07:47:49AM

ZAP THE PRAM!!!!!!!!!!!

LOL...



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: johnsawyercjs on Mar 19, '08 07:36:21PM

I've reset my dual G4 Mirrored Drive Doors' PRAM/NVRAM/Open Firmware several times recently, to see if it would help the type of freezing problems I've been seeing in a variety of apps for several months, which started for me under OS 10.4.x, and continues under OS 10.5, but it hasn't helped. That's not to say it wouldn't help some other freezing app/process, but not the ones I'm seeing on my Mac. My hard drives have no directory damage or bad blocks, as well as having all the usual maintenance (cache cleaning, etc.), so something else is going on. I'll have to try this hint, even if it means leaving Activity Monitor open all the time, even though it eats up about 20% of the processing of one of my Mac's processors. It makes me glad my Mac has two of them, though I could really use at least four.



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It's elementary, my dear Watson
Authored by: itistoday on Feb 20, '08 09:15:19AM

Activity Monitor acts as an observer that collapses the wave function of the trapped process which exists in a state of quantum-electro-stasis.



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It's elementary, my dear Watson
Authored by: asmeurer on Feb 22, '08 03:37:05PM

Woah. I had to read that one twice. I almost clicked "report abuse," but then I got it.



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Weird but true ...
Authored by: RickoKid on Feb 20, '08 09:22:53AM
Just like this hint that mysteriously can resurrect a sad mouse by opening the Force Quit dialog ...

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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: rumirocks on Feb 21, '08 05:13:58AM

I can confirm that this worked for me in Tiger time and again, and in particular, with Word. I haven't had Leopard long enough. [It used to freak me out at first. I thought someone was accessing my system, and 'whoever it was' could tell when I was going to Activity Monitor to check it out. :-)]



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Is it Flash or Windowserver???
Authored by: awado on Feb 22, '08 03:48:43AM

Well, i can confirm that, too. It happened very often, while watching youtube videos. In such case, while AM is running in the background, it shows almost 100% at the WindowServer's line! Clicking on AM's window returns to normal behavior. WS gets down to 2-4%. Can anybody confirm this (with Flash plugin 9.0.115)?



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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: Allerbe on Feb 24, '08 11:28:07AM
I've had a similar experience. Sometimes both my mouse and Wacom pen will freeze when I use the numeric keypad on my Apple Bluetooth keyboard. My first thought was that I'd have to force quit the application that caused this to happen. Then I noticed my mouse and pen would come back to life as soon as Activity Monitor had launched!

This has been a repeatable cure that I and others using the same Mac have used with a 100% success rate dozens of times.

Still would like to know a cure for the underlying (occasional) freezing problem, though...

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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: Darklon on Feb 28, '08 07:31:08AM
Same here. This hint has worked on most applications for me, and has even caused the Finder to resume a few times. I thought it was just happening to me though. :-) I wonder if the answer could be something like Activity Monitor is focusing the processor on the hung application and moving the hung app to the head of the queue for service? I don't totally understand processor queueing and execution levels, but it just sounds plausible to this uneducated layperson. :-)

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Possibly unfreeze a process with Activity Monitor
Authored by: slugtronn on Mar 17, '08 01:47:54PM

I've had luck very often with unhanging processes (including the Finder) by holding down the power button for 3 or 4 seconds. Not enough to force-shutdown the machine, but enough to show it who's boss. I don't think it's coincidence. It happened all the time with Tiger. I just installed Leopard, so I can't say if it still happens with 10.5



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