Using OS X 10.9.5 I got this message after logging out and back in with different UID. Screen is frozen except I can move the mouse courser around just cannot select anything. Display sleep mode does work. How long does this take? Is there a key combination to stop optimization or reboot?

For more context please see link: What is happening when my Mac is being optimized after an OS X update?

Again, the screen is frozen including clock. Can move mouse and trackpad cursor but cannot select anything. Keyboard works only to wake machine.

Ok, so I tried the hard reboot option and that seems to have worked thus far. Then tried two soft restarts and no problems either. Been using Mavericks over a year now and never had a problem, so I''m gonna run my antivirus software and backup before deciding on what to do with spotlight or the problematic user profile. Funny, I've waited for Yosemite and iOS 8 to mature and was just preparing my machines for the upgrades.

3 Answers 3


What you describe is far worse than the normal optimization phase.

If your Mac is so sluggish that the cursor movement and launching of apps is unworkable (delays more than 60 seconds per action) and persists past a reboot, you'll need to get the hardware checked as the storage system is likely failing due to software or hardware failure.

To troubleshoot this:

  1. back up all files you care to ever see again
  2. disconnect the backup drive (and test restore to another Mac if that costs less in time and $ than you'd spend to recreate the files or compensate you for the loss - i.e. wedding and/or baby pictures, etc...)
  3. Reinstall a clean OS - import no data, set up no network, no Apple ID, no iCloud. Run that system until it's idle in activity monitor and there's no delay launching apps from spotlight.
  4. Test opening any three apps you care from Launchpad

If this OS is slow, troubleshoot the hardware further.

If this OS is fast:

  1. connect to the internet
  2. update all the software
  3. install any critical software you need to work/test (this rules out a software conflict with the software you were running when the machine was stuck)
  4. open Activity Monitor and be sure the system is idle and performs properly
  5. now decide to import your user files, connect to iCloud and Dropbox and any other tools that can cause slowness and external dependancies. If you don't want to set things up by hand, you can wipe this test OS and reinstall and choose to restore your backup in one shot.

Good luck - troubleshooting hardware/software isn't a hard concept, but being organized, limiting change, and testing after each step is what makes it sometimes tedious and worth outsourcing.


Short answer: Yes but you don't want to.

Long answer: If you must, go to system preferences -> Spotlight -> Privacy and add Macintosh HD. This will prevent Spotlight from indexing, causing the Windows Effect (it never completes indexing and it slows down progressively) whereas Spotlight takes a short while to index (and does not back off like Windows does) but from then on runs much faster.

Edit: Just saw your question edit. Spotlight shouldn't be causing this. Hold the power button until it shuts off, turn it on. If it's still frozen, try safe mode (hold shift while turning on). If it still persists, try starting Recovery (command+R during startup). If it does not persist in Recovery, reinstall. If it does, reset SMC and PRAM. Edit again: Something is wrong with my connection, because different details are missing from your question each time I look. I'm stopping for now until I get home. Try safe mode, like before, while logging in, and if that unfreezes it, remove login items from system preferences -> users and groups -> the user you're logged into, and remove launch agents from the user's library. If nothing works, I'll be editing my answer again when I get home and can see your whole question

  • Nope, this question still glitches on me. Tried all night to fix it. My answer stays as-is... Mar 16, 2015 at 13:08

As others have said, optimizing for performance and indexing for Spotlight search should not lock up your machine. In fact, on most machine it's barely noticeable.

I would suggest seeking professional help rather than trying to pin down the cause over a 'web forum' like this. The cause could literally be anything. You could have a failing hard drive, bad RAM, bad peripheral device, any of an unlimited number of random software issues. It literally could be anything.

But what it is not, is normal. I would say that it probably has nothing to do with the optimizing, and these two unrelated events just happen to be happening at the same time.

  • Also I didn't realize this is a 3 year old question. Not sure why such old questions randomly show up on the home page as if they are brand new.
    – l008com
    Mar 21, 2018 at 6:42

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