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Making Finder BeachBalls go away without rebooting System
Sometimes the Finder on my WiFi connected Mac will go into beachball mode because another computer on the home network is to old to respond to Airport's 'wake up' messages.

When a connectivity issue like that happens, the Finder is supposed to alert you with a 'Connections interrupted' dialog that gives you the opportunity to disconnect. However, it's a small dialog, and sometimes goes away by itself when perhaps it shouldn't.

If I miss the dialog, or click ignore, and leave that unavailable server on my desktop, any application that does a sloppy job of asking for information on mounted partitions can cause the Finder to hang.

That leaves Finder menu items such as 'Restart' or 'System Preferences' unavailable. The Apple Menu's 'Force Quit' keyboard shortcut still works, but often the unresponsive Finder will simply quit and never restart.

Fortunately, the Wi-Fi Menu on the right side of the Menu bar still works. You turn this on using the Network System Preferences pane.

Turns out that using that to turn off Wi-Fi, then waiting for a bit, and turning Wi-Fi back on clears the Finder's beachball, removes the old Mac from network visibility, and pretty much returns all functionality to normal.

There are lots of ways besides having an old Mac hooked to a network that could cause parts of a home network to become unresponsive. Toggling the Wi-Fi network connection can probably fix a lot of the problems they cause too.

If you want to see what happens to Lion's Finder when Wi-Fi becomes unresponsive, try turning off Wi-Fi from the Menu. As you try to use Apps normally, sooner, rather than later, you'll end up with a whirling beachball in the Finder, your Apps, etc.

[crarko adds: A lot of Finder related hangs are certainly due to Network errors that don't timeout in a reasonable period, based on my experience. Not all of them are, though, so this isn't a cure for all cases of the Beachball of Death, but it will handle a number of them. Note that in some cases the SystemUIServer (which handles menu extras like the Airport menu) will also hang, preventing access to the menu item. Then you're pretty much stuck with a hard reboot.]
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Making Finder BeachBalls go away without rebooting
Authored by: JazzDude on Dec 15, '11 08:27:31AM

<blockquote>Then you're pretty much stuck with a hard reboot.</blockquote>
Of course, you could always SSH into the affected machine and try to kill the hanging processes from there. If you have a working machine on that same network.



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Making Finder BeachBalls go away without rebooting
Authored by: Zeitkind on Dec 22, '11 02:14:13AM

I use my iPhone for that. A quick ssh into the Mac and a reboot -q is much better that a cold shutdown. HFS+ is journaled, but well.. You can also try to kill the loginwindow process first, it often helps to avoid a full reboot.



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Making Finder BeachBalls go away without rebooting
Authored by: JazzDude on Dec 22, '11 08:45:41AM

Can you recommend a good ssh client app?



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Making Finder BeachBalls go away without rebooting
Authored by: Zeitkind on Dec 23, '11 07:07:12AM

I use "SSH Term Pro"
http://itunes.apple.com/de/app/ssh-term-pro/id389930222?mt=8



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Making Finder BeachBalls go away without rebooting
Authored by: JazzDude on Dec 23, '11 08:25:51AM

Thanks for the tip!



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Making Finder BeachBalls go away without rebooting
Authored by: chabig on Dec 15, '11 01:09:25PM

A good comment overall. I want to point out that System Preferences and Force Quit are not Finder menus. If Finder is unresponsive, switch to a different app using command-tab and choose Force Quit from there.



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Making Finder BeachBalls go away without rebooting
Authored by: aca on Dec 15, '11 02:14:56PM

This also usually works for hangs in iTunes caused by "Processing Files" (i.e., when downloading a new app), or caused by trying to access a track on a networked drive which for some reason is taking inordinately long. Annoying if you have other things going that can't easily be suspended (like ssh'ing into a mainframe account, for example), but it's better than having to restart!



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Making Finder BeachBalls go away without rebooting
Authored by: pubtech on Dec 15, '11 08:05:13PM

Or leave Terminal open all the time. Then you have nearly infinite options (if you can remember what to type)



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Making Finder BeachBalls go away without rebooting
Authored by: bonobob on Dec 15, '11 10:32:17PM

I have also noticed that sometimes Finder doesn't restart after a force quit or restart. However, it always starts up just fine if I click on the Finder icon in the Dock.



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