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The issue

For some reason, every few days, I am unable to open any apps on my Mac. Occasionally, when I open an app on my Mac, regardless of what app it is (Activity Monitor, Safari, Preview, Photos, etc.), it would just bounce indefinitely in the Mac dock, without ever launching.

I am, in general, able to continue using any apps that are already running. This is why I don't always notice that the problem has occurred yet, because I'll only notice it when I launch another app.

However, one time, I was watching a video in VLC, and after halfway through watching a video, I tried to pause it, but I couldn't pause it (while I was in fullscreen mode), and that's when I knew the issue occurred again. I confirmed this by opening other apps, and they bounced indefinitely in the dock.

This issue could start whether I'm at my Mac or away from it. Also, I already have the option disabled for putting hard drives to sleep when not in use.

Attempted solutions

I posted EtreCheck results to a Gist, so please take a look to see if there might be any software that is causing the problem. I chose the "Apps are crashing" option.

Deleting com.apple.finder.plist file

I tried trashing the com.apple.finder.plist file, but the issue still persists afterwards. Restarting Finder through Force Quit (Relaunch) only quit Finder, but did not launch it back up. Also, after the issue occurs, I can't even Log Out or Restart my Mac; I must force restart my Mac by pressing and holding the Mac's power button (it's a Mac Mini).

Checking crontab

Results:

$ crontab -l
crontab: no crontab for gary
$ sudo crontab -l
crontab: no crontab for root

Mac updates

I already have Mac automatic updates and App Store automatic updates completely disabled. I manually perform updates once a week.

Times when the issue happened

I started having this problem after I bought a new Mac, which also forced me to upgrade my MacOS from MacOS Catalina to MacOS Monterey. I got the new Mac on July 15, 2022, about a month ago. I migrated everything from my old Mac Mini to my new Mac Mini. It's possible that the issue is caused by something that was migrated from the old Mac, so you can take a look at the EtreCheck report linked above to see what that might be.

I noticed a trend that the issue would occur roughly every 72 hours. I don't know why that would be, though, since my routine is occasionally different, such as I'm sometimes away from my Mac, when the issue occurs.

Here is a list of the times that the issue occurred:

  • 2022-08-06 at 7:00 pm
  • 2022-08-10 at 10:03 pm
  • 2022-08-13 at 9:29 pm
  • 2022-08-16 at 10:57 pm

Possible solutions

Is there anything I could check, to get some clues? For instance, is there any console logs to check? I briefly checked logs in the Console app, but couldn't find anything relevant to the issue. The amount of information in the Console app is also overwhelming, so I'm not quite sure where to start.

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  • Can you try to check if you have some cron job : crontab -l and sudo crontab -l . Did this also happens when Chrome is stopped ? Have you automatic updates enabled ?
    – Ptit Xav
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 16:37
  • Did you migrate everything from your old Mac? It could be that some old software is incompatible with the newer OS. I would recommend downloading EtreCheck, which produces a report of useful information about the state of your computer (no personal details) -- it often has all the information that we need. etrecheck.com
    – benwiggy
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 17:18
  • @PtitXav I ran the two commands, and posted the results in my post. I have no items in either one. I'm not sure if the issue would occur if Chrome isn't running. I'm not sure if the two are related. And I can't stop using Chrome for 3+ days just to test this.
    – Gary
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 18:54
  • @benwiggy Yes I migrated everything from the old Mac. It's certainly possible that something from there is causing the issue. I downloaded EtreCheck and posted the results here. If you can, please help me find what might be causing the problem, because I've got too many items to go through and don't know where to start, and I can't afford to start my Mac from scratch. Thanks, appreciate it.
    – Gary
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 18:56
  • Do you have Virtuel box installed (it is not compatible with M1) ? You seem to use Photoshop 2018 which may not be M1 compatible and using High CPU.
    – Ptit Xav
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 23:38

1 Answer 1

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As you can see from the report, you have a lot of software running in the background, (in the form of System Extensions, Launch Agents and Launch Daemons) and you should check whether you really need it all, and whether it's up-to-date and compatible with your current Mac. (Even if it's not the cause, it's good housekeeping.)

It looks like you've brought over lots of ancient software from your old Mac.

For instance, you have lots of obsolete Internet Plug-ins that are from years gone by: Flip4Mac; Google Earth, Adobe PDF Viewer, Silverlight, and Office Live.

LAcie Desktop Manager -- third-party disk management tools are often the cause of problems, particularly if not up to date. You don't really need them to run external drives.

You've also got Paragon NTFS drivers (but no NTFS drives). Again, do you need them; are they up-to-date?

MegaSync? check if you really need it and it's up-to-date and compatible.

SteerMouse: It's exactly these sorts of softwares -- driver extensions and things that modify the OS's behaviour -- that are likely to cause problems with new OS versions. Ideally, I'd want to disable it to test whether it's causing a problem, before deciding to keep it.

Is that Cocktail? The need for 'maintenance' or 'cleaning' apps is over-stated. Do you need XQuartz from 2012? (There is an M1 compatible update.)

There are also remaining fragments of other software that you've deleted. (Proving that AppCleaner isn't worth having either!)

I would certainly test running the computer without some of these third-party processes running for a while. Try running in Safe Boot mode, which will disable all these things from loading, and see if the behaviour still occurs.

It may be easier to do a wipe, then migrate your user data and settings, then only install the apps you need.

EtreCheck report also says you're running out of disk space. I'd try and keep 50Gb of space free, if possible, though not easy with a 256 Gb drive. Hopefully, you can delete some obsolete and unnecessary software to get some space back.

Also, is the Seagate drive a hard drive? Check whether it is/isn't spinning down and then spinning up again. I know you've said you've turned off that option, but some drives have a built-in sleep function.

You've turned off Apple Security Updates, which is a bad idea, too.

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