Every now and then, mostly with USB sticks, Finder decides to copy forever, either at the end of the copy process (i.e. the files are already copied), or at the very beginning.

Stopping the process in the little window will make Finder announce that it is "stopping" and it will do that for a few hours.

Been "Stopping..." for hours, probably will keep at it forever!

I tried just killing and restarting Finder but the old Finder survives as a zombie and the new Finder never finished starting.

Is there another way of recovering from this problem other than restarting the computer?

Since I upgraded to Lion I found that restarts have become more common.

Update: In Mountain Lion it would appear you can't even restart to fix it!

THe Finder can't quit because some operations are still in progress. (And will be forever!)

  • 1
    Did you use killall Finder (which sends a TERM signal) or did you use killall -KILL Finder?
    – gentmatt
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 18:38
  • I used the GUI thingy. I don't know what it does. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 19:33
  • For what it's worth, I had it complete after hanging there for at least 10 minutes. So if it hasn't been hours yet, it's possible that it will recover.
    – funroll
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 14:00

4 Answers 4


Next time this happens, look at the Finder process using ps: First run this in a terminal:

launchctl list | grep Finder

The output should be just one line, listing com.apple.Finder with a number at the beginning of the line. That number is the process ID (pid) of Finder. Now run

ps up xxx

replacing xxx by the pid found in the first step. Look under the STAT heading. If you see the letter U then the Finder is stuck in an uninterruptible system call, and cannot be killed. You will most likely need to restart your system to recover.

Processes stuck in an uninterruptible system call is often a symptom of a hardware problem. It would bear further investigations to find the cause.

  • The hardware problem is most likely the USB stick Finder is copying to. So I will have to use something else to copy files if Finder is too fragile. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 9:28
  • 1
    What if the letter is ?E+ or ?E, and launchctl list | grep Finder yields 7709 - 0x7fe8cd22f820.anonymous.Finder 7698 - 0x7fe8cb40b0f0.anonymous.Finder 470 - com.apple.Finder?
    – daviewales
    Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 7:43
  • 1
    @daviewales The normal finder process would be the one without “anonymous” in its label. I have no idea what caused the other two to exist, but could speculate that Finder fires off new processes to handle copying or other tasks, and those are what you see. The letter E in the status indicate that the process is trying to exit, according to the manual page for ps. Not too sure what that means either, but maybe there are pending writes that need to be finished before the process can exit. Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 11:56
  • I had a Finder mega crash, so I think the other two things appeared as a result of me trying to launch Finder when the previous instance hadn't properly exited yet. (Incidentally, I was unable to stop any of the Finder instances without force restarting, which was annoying.)
    – daviewales
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 13:07
  • In my instance when it actually did recover, it showed S, which man ps says Marks a process that is sleeping for less than about 20 seconds.
    – funroll
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 14:22
killall Finder

If you don't have killall

brew install killall

if you don't have brew

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.github.com/Homebrew/homebrew/go/install)"

if you don't have ruby

You have it, it comes with OSX


If it hasn't frozen completely, you can also how down ALT/Option on your keyboard and either right-click the Finder icon in the dock or click the Finder menu in the menubar. Either way, you'll then see an option to force restart Finder.

  • I did that and the above-described symptoms appeared. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 9:27

Command Option + Escape, Relaunch Finder, Done

  • 2
    Welcome to Ask Different. We like answers to be more than just a single line. Ideally, you want to explain why your answer is *right." It also helps to provide links, citations, and/or screen shots. Please review our help section How to Answer on writing good answers to questions
    – Allan
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 22:34
  • 1
    Note that in the question it specifically says that that method doesn't work. Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 23:13

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