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I’ve had this happening now twice for a couple of weeks. It could be since I upgraded to Monterey 12.6.1 … Here is what happens:

  • I want to exit some application, so I go through the Quit menu item.
  • Only, the application does not quit: all the windows close, but the little “running” marker stays on in the dock.
  • Then I try Force Quit and it goes away - or so it seems
  • But then I want to start the application again: the icon in the dock starts jumping up and down for a moment, but nothing happens (no windows open, nothing)
  • After a moment, the icon stops jumping, and the right click has the Force Quit option, but Force Quit does not do anything: the application stays there. Same when using the Finder's Force Quit menu item.
  • When I look at ps -ael I can see the process is there

This has happened to me a few times during the last few weeks: with BBedit, Mail. Today it happened again with VS code, and now again with Console. It also even happened once with the Finder itself.

The only way out is to reboot. I tried killing the process of the locked apps, but they do not get killed. Even kill -9 fails to kill it.

It looks like something is locking up some processes that makes them “unkillable”.

EDIT: I understand that signals are only delivered to a process running in user space, or when a process transitions from kernel space to user space. SIGKILL signal (kill -9) cannot be caught and ignored, so the only way it is being ignored is if the process has made a system call that has not returned, such as a network or I/O request that is stalled.

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  • First of all: test the problem in Safe Boot mode (hold Shift at boot). Also, test the problem in a brand new user account. These tests will provide information about where the problem lies.
    – benwiggy
    Dec 3, 2022 at 19:21
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    This is a (rare) problem that has occurred since at least 10.12. The only "fix" is to restart as the system appears to quickly degrade in that state. I can't figure out exactly why it happens, but it seems to be due to some IO process that gets borked. Network/HDD/External/CD/etc. and, specifically with finder, XtraFinder crashing. Dec 4, 2022 at 22:48
  • This is what seems to be happening, yes. Thinking back, the problems started happening after I started using a new external ssd. I have it split in two partitions, one I use for TM backups, one I use to offload some big files. 90% of the use is for the TM backups. I have stopped leaving it connected permanently, and the error has no longer occurred. Dec 24, 2022 at 9:33

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