MacBook stuck loading Finder — how to fix it

7 min read

Don’t let the name trick you, Finder is so much more than just a file finding app. One of the key macOS utilities, Finder helps you initiate any changes in files, folders, and disks; open apps, load desktop files, and more. This is why Mac Finder not working is a nightmare. 

Even though there are some very powerful alternatives to Finder, some of which we’ll discuss in this article, you have to know how to fix Mac Finder not responding because this issue might completely hamper your work-in-progress and basically leave your Mac frozen. 

Fix Mac Finder not responding 

You know something is wrong when Mac Finder won’t open, keeps freezing, or quits unexpectedly. Just as there are many things that could possibly cause Finder not responding, there are many things you can try to fix this irritating issue. 

Let’s start with the simplest one — force quitting. 

Quit Finder with Quit All 

Quit All is a must-have for your Mac because it can “unfreeze” your Mac in seconds. All it does is quitting all apps — or selected apps — in a single click. You can also use this app to quit background apps, which might be tricky to quit otherwise. 

Why would you use Quit All instead of the traditional macOS Force Quit option? Three things. First of all, it’s faster. Second, it can help you fix the problem in case it’s not Finder messing with your Mac but some other background app, which makes your MacBook stuck loading Finder. Finally, some users report that the Force Quit menu won’t let them quit Finder. This is a tricky issue that really only Quit All can fix.

Quit All instead of the macOS Force Quit option

Here’s how to quit Finder — alongside other apps — with Quit All: 

  1. Click the Quit All icon in the menu bar 
  2. Select the apps you want to quit or just select all 
  3. Click the Settings icon > View background apps to quit background apps, too
  4. Click Quit All. 

Note: By default, Quit All performs normal quit instead of force quit. This helps you avoid losing changes in documents and apps in case you’re quitting a bunch of apps at once. But you can enable Force Quit in Quit All’s Preferences > General > Default: Force Quit

If your cursor is stuck and you can’t work with Quit All, you can try accessing the Force Quit menu with the following keyboard shortcut: Command + Option + Escape. This will open a new dialog menu where you can choose Finder > Relaunch.  

Force Quit menu

Relaunch Finder through the Dock 

A trick not everyone knows about is that you can relaunch Finder through the Dock — basically, the same as force quitting. It works beautifully in most cases, unless your cursor is stuck and you can’t access this option in the Dock. Here’s how to relaunch Finder: 

  1. Right-click the Finder icon in the Dock while pressing the Option key 
  2. Choose Relaunch 
  3. Wait a few seconds for Finder to relaunch. 

relaunch Finder through the Dock

Quit Finder with Activity Monitor 

Activity Monitor is a macOS utility that keeps track of the active processes running on your Mac and can help terminate some of them if necessary. Here’s how to force quit Finder with Activity Monitor: 

  1. Find and open Activity Monitor through Spotlight 
  2. Type “Finder” in the search bar
  3. Select a Finder-related process
  4. Click the X button in the top left to quit the process.

force quit Finder with Activity Monitor:

Remove preferences files

If you’ve tried quitting and force quitting but your Finder just won’t relaunch properly — it’s either stuck all the time or shuts down shortly after you’ve relaunched it — try deleting its preferences files. Preferences files keep track of all Finder-related actions, which means Finder won’t work if these files are corrupt. You can remove Finder preferences with Terminal: 

  1. Find and open Terminal through Spotlight
  2. In Terminal, paste the following command: rm ~/Library/Preferences/
  3. Press Return and restart your Mac
  4. Check if your Finder works properly after the restart. 

Finder keeps crashing 

Each of the mentioned methods should help fix MacBook stuck trying to load Finder. But if you’re out of luck and Finder keeps crashing and freezing repeatedly — even after you’ve relaunched it — there might be a more serious problem hampering your Mac’s well-being. 

Clean up storage 

Literally anything can go sideways on your Mac if you’re running out of storage space. From unexpected shutdowns to apps misbehaving — running slow, freezing, quitting, etc. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 5GB of free storage so your Finder performs properly. But don’t aim at that 5GB, try freeing up as much space as you can regularly with CleanMyMac X. 

CleanMyMac X is the world’s best Mac optimization tool — not exaggerating — that will keep your machine fast, clutter-free, and high-performing. Run a Smart Scan with CleanMyMac X at least once every two weeks and it will automatically delete all the system clutter, duplicates, and other junk for you. It’s the most efficient way to declutter storage and fix performance issues, including Finder freezing. 

Run a Smart Scan with CleanMyMac X

Restart and boot in Safe Mode

If you can’t make Finder work, let’s give your Mac a break and restart. Go with a simple restart first. In case it won’t help, restart and boot in Safe Mode: 

  1. Go to the Apple menu and click Restart 
  2. Hold down the Shift key while your Mac is booting 
  3. Release Shift once the login screen appears
  4. Log in and check Finder performance. 

If you see that Finder works better in Safe Mode, try getting rid of login items and declutter your Mac — this should help. Both can be done with CleanMyMac X. 

Perform a power cycle 

Some sources recommend power-cycling, an act of depriving your Mac of power and disconnecting all peripherals to remove all temporary configurations. Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Open the Apple menu and log out of your account (make sure you don’t skip this!)
  2. In the same menu, click Shut Down 
  3. Disconnect the power cable as well as all peripheral devices from your Mac
  4. Wait for about 5 minutes
  5. Press and hold the power button until you see the login screen
  6. Check Finder after you log in. Fingers crossed it works seamlessly! 

Tip to fix freezing or slow Mac 

Finder is not the only one that gets stuck. 

Your Mac regularly letting you down by freezing and slowing down is super annoying. In 80% of cases, it happens because of high CPU usage. When CPU consumption is skyrocketing — meaning there are two many active processes running simultaneously — you’ll see different apps acting strange, Mac freezing, and so on. Luckily, there’s a universal fix. 

App Tamer is an app that works in the background, monitoring active processes and taming the apps that eat up too much CPU. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy your fast Mac. 

App Tamer

Replace Finder with a better alternative 

The most frustrating scenario is this. You’ve spent 15 minutes looking for the right file in Finder. The second you found it, it disappeared because Finder quit unexpectedly. Unfortunately, these things happen when your Finder doesn’t work properly. To avoid the trouble, think about a reliable alternative you could use in emergencies. Or, maybe even replace Finder for good. 

Default Folder X will give you superb menu bar navigation for quick access to files, folders, and volumes — even recent files, favorites, and active Finder windows. If you ask me, it’s a reimagined Finder with a huge number of perks. 

Default Folder X

Commander One is a dual-pane file manager designed for macOS. If you’ve always wanted Finder to have that dual-pane feature, here’s a good chance to make your wish come true. Apart from two panes, it has advanced search and lets you access your cloud volumes and network disks. All from one place. 

 Commander One

ForkLift is similar to Commander One. It has two panes for simple file management and transfer, as well as lets you connect and sync to remote sources. We love its instant preview feature for previewing files in a dedicated preview pane. Filepane also comes with a Finder-style side pane so you have less of a learning curve if you decide to switch. 


Each of these three tools will solve the problem of MacBook stuck trying to load Finder — and you can give them all a try with a free trial of Setapp to choose which one works best for you. Speaking of which, Setapp, a productivity suite with 230+ Mac and iPhone apps, also has Quit All, CleanMyMac X, and App Tamer mentioned in this article. 

Whether you’ve landed here to fix Mac Finder not responding or Finder quitting unexpectedly, we hope this guide has been helpful. Have a wonderful day! 

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