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I booted up my MacBook Air (running Mac OS X Lion) and the desktop doesn't have a menubar. I used option+right-click to relaunch Finder and there isn't an option to relaunch it. When I launch an application the menubar shows up. When I cmd+q to quit the application the application's window closes but the menubar then defaults to the last currently open application. Even if it's on a different virtual desktop.

When I reboot the computer I notice that the keyboard is no longer backlit by default. The keyboard only becomes backlit after I correctly enter my password. I don't know if this is related to the problem stated in the first paragraph. It may or may not be relevant. I don't know.

Any thoughts or ideas? I've never seen a desktop in Mac OS X that didn't have a menubar.

To recap: No menubar, no date, time, Spotlight icon etc. when all applications are closed. They show up when I launch an application. Option to relaunch Finder is gone.

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I've seen this recently. I don't know how to resolve it any other way than restarting sometimes more than once. –  EmmEff Feb 20 '12 at 3:03
    
Well, I've rebooted about 10 times now and to no avail. I created a new user and the problem exists for the new user. –  YequalsX Feb 20 '12 at 4:34
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try restarting the process called "System UI Server" (or something like that with an _ i think_) –  XAleXOwnZX Feb 20 '12 at 5:22
    
When this happens, does a Finder process appear in Activity Monitor, or (via Terminal) in ps waux | grep Finder? –  bneely Feb 20 '12 at 5:26
    
@XAleXOwnZX: +1 for SystemUIServer. This is the process that encompasses the Spotlight, Clock, etc. process icons. Killing that in Activity Monitor will cause it to restart automatically. –  binarybob Feb 20 '12 at 9:27
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2 Answers

Try quitting Finder using Activity Monitor (in Utilities). It's in Launchpad there too. Scroll down the list of processes till you see Finder, click it and then choose Quit Process from the toolbar. Choose "Force Quit" at the dialog.

If Finder isn't in the list of applications in Activity Monitor, you can manually start it. It's located at /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app. If you can't get to it by browsing (because Finder isn't running!) you can always use Terminal. It's in Utilities too. Just type

open /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app

into the window and hit return.

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I did this and the problem persists. There is no menubar when all applications are closed. When I open a folder (getting a Finder window) the menubar still doesn't show. There is no option to relaunch Finder when I option+right-click the Finder icon from the Dock. –  YequalsX Feb 20 '12 at 11:45
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Sounds like the problem described at discussions.apple.com/message/17644065 it's possible you've got something nefarious installed by 3rd party software too. –  Cathy Feb 20 '12 at 22:19
    
That's me! I'm going to reinstall the operating system. Thanks for your help. –  YequalsX Feb 21 '12 at 0:49
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try restarting the process called "SystemUIServer" and post what happens as a comment to this answer. I'll update my answer with any possible insight i can give.

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I've restarted SystemUIServer. Nothing happened. It just started again right away with a new process id. I've killed Finder too with the same result. I've booted in safe mode. Same problem but now the keyboard is backlit at the login screen. I've created a new user and the new user experiences the same problem. When no applications are running there is no menubar. –  YequalsX Feb 20 '12 at 17:31
    
i've never heard of that before =/ that's unfortunate. I think reinstalling lion would be the easiest way to fix it –  XAleXOwnZX Feb 20 '12 at 18:30
    
Yeah, I think I'm going to have to do this. –  YequalsX Feb 20 '12 at 18:33
    
i'm looking into a way of clearing the gunk clogging up systemUIServer but i can only use AppZapper to do it if it's closed, which is tough since its autolaunched by launchd –  XAleXOwnZX Feb 20 '12 at 18:46
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