How to Fix It When Mac Finder is Slow or Not Responding

So, are you experiencing this weird issue with Finder on your Mac? It’s super slow to open folders, sometimes not responding, even worse, it keeps crashing randomly.

This kind of Mac Finder problem is frustrating. And lots of fellow Mac users have reported this issue after updating Mac to the latest macOS.

Fortunately, it is generally an easy fix as long as you pinpoint the culprit. However, the process may not be as easy as it sounds. Sometimes it’s much more time-consuming to identify the cause rather than resolve it.

In this article, we are going to show you a few common reasons and fixes to help you tackle the Finder problem.

Note: to make it easier for you, we break down the solutions into two situations (see below).

Situation #1: Finder is Slow But Still Usable

This scenario applies to those of you who can use Finder to open folders or access files, but the process becomes much slower than usual. Here are the common causes and solutions.

1. Your Mac is Running Out of Storage

In general, it’s a good practice to make sure your Mac disk has at least 20% free space available to use.

Otherwise, your Mac may suffer performance issues. To check storage usage, click on the Apple logo on the top left of your screen, select About This Mac, then click the Storage tab.

Here you get a quick overview of the storage via the colorful bar.

How to fix it: if your Mac doesn’t have enough storage, the easiest way to free up more disk space is by using CleanMyMac — an app that helps quickly detect and remove system junk and unnecessary files.

We also recommend using CCleaner to locate those large old files and delete those you don’t need. You can also use this app to find duplicate files if you are used to storing multiple copies of backups and photos on your Mac.

Clean your Mac as much as you can to reclaim more free disk space, as this helps improve the overall performance of your Mac. Plus, the Finder slow issue can disappear too.

2. Spotlight is Indexing

This usually happens when your Mac has updated to a newer macOS (e.g. 10.13 High Sierra).

Other times when you just finished transferring a large number of files from an external drive to your Mac. In this case, the Spotlight often needs to index all new files for you to search.

However, the process usually takes quite a while to complete. During the Spotlight indexing process, your Mac is likely to run slowly, heat up, and the Finder app will lag as well.

How to know if Spotlight is indexing files? Just click the search icon on the top right corner, type any file name, and see if there is an “indexing…” status message showing up.

If you don’t want to wait, you can either turn off Spotlight or exclude some items from indexing. Learn how to do that with the step-by-step instructions MacObserver introduced.

3. Problematic Finder Preference Files

In some cases, the preferences files associated with the Finder app could corrupt or break — causing Mac Finder to misbehave. To fix that, the best way is to delete Finder Preferences.

How to do that? Follow these steps…

Step 1: Search “~/Library/Preferences/” in the Spotlight bar, and click the “TOP HIT” result to open the Preferences folder.

Step 2: In the new window, locate this file “com.apple.finder.plist”, right-click and select “Move to Trash.”

Step 3: Now close the folder and restart your Mac.

Note: It’s harmless to delete a .plist file because, after reboot, your Mac will regenerate the Finder preference file itself.

Situation #2: Finder is Not Responding at All

This scenario is best for when the Finder app on your Mac is not responding or becomes inaccessible. You’ll have to operate via the Terminal command to delete the preference file to fix it.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

1. Open the Terminal app. You can either do a quick Spotlight search or find the app under Applications > Utilities and open it.

2. Delete the primary Finder preferences file. At the Terminal prompt, type the following command exactly as written and press the Return key on your Mac.

rm ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist

3. Now restart your Mac for the change to take effect.

In general, we don’t recommend you do so on your own if you are not comfortable using the command line.

It’s best to have a geek friend assist you during the process because any misoperation could cause unexpected issues.

Final Words

The Finder not responding issue can be very annoying as we are used to relying on the app to access files and folders.

But the problem does happen now and then, particularly when you just upgraded your Mac to a newer macOS version.

By the way, if you are new to Mac, learning about the Finder will help you better organize and manage your Mac files. Check out this Apple support article for more information.

We hope you find the above troubleshooting guide helpful and hopefully you have fixed the problem. If you have any questions regarding the issue, leave a comment and let us know.

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  • BubbaMustafa

    Any of the ‘fixes’ that require a reboot, you can skip the ‘fix’ and just reboot.

    Reply
  • Angry User

    It’s still not working, and that not working Finder is no fun just like, you know, writing this good article.

    What the heck are you doing with Finder for more then 10 years, apple guys?

    Are you really mads?

    Reply
  • Faizan

    Here’s what fixed it for me: Shutdown your mac, Turn it back on holding the “Shift” button to boot into safemode, and thats it. Restart and Voila! Finder is working in all its glory.

    Reply
  • Ned Sayer

    SPOTLIGHT, then search: ~/Library/Preferences/
    unable to open as finder does not respond.
    ForceQuit / Relaunch Finder does nothing.
    Now what?
    funny thing is the problem appeared out of the blue, no updates no new apps, more than 50% free space… just like that.

    Reply
  • hannah weinstein

    THANK YOU JESUS

    Reply
  • Sillyhappy

    FYI I found that my finder file in the user preferences instead of the library.

    Reply
  • modnarte

    How do you do that without the finder??????

    Reply
  • Alvar

    Using OS 10:15 Accessing, Moving, Deleting or copying Files in Documents is painfully slow this appears to be because files are stored in iCloud and not actually in the Documents folder on the HardDrive. Even though I have a fast internet connection all activities with files or Folders are a total pain. I have created a MyDocuments folder which is not visible to iCloud and only on the HardDrive and this works great. I now keep file/Folder copies in DropBox which is MUCH FASTER than iCloud.

    This has been an issue for some time and its about time Apple got is sorted

    Reply
    • Benjamin Shirley

      @Alvar – Do you manually drag over everything to DropBox? I see there’s a Backup you MAC folder in DropBox. i’m going through hell with ALL my computers uploading to iCloud. It’s been a week since going from Mojave to Catalina. I have no idea why everything is uploading. NO desktop synch and everything was running so slow until I deleted the Finder plsts. Any suggestions?
      Thanks for your time.

      Reply
  • Juan Carlos

    Hi, I got a new macbook pro, I updated to Catalina OS and my problems starts after that, finder and other mac applications wont respond and like you said they only solution is to restart the computer. This problem starts to becoming annoying.

    Reply
  • Omar K. Harris

    Finally, I found the help I needed, this information is surely going to help me fix the issues that I am having. I really appreciate the information.

    Reply
  • Michael Raymer

    This works. I’ve had a new MacBookPro for 6 months, (now its 2019) and native apps like Keynote and Preview kept freezing. I found hundreds of old plists dating back to 2011. I deleted all from 2011 through 2016. Restarted. Seems much more stable and faster!

    Reply
    • Beckyjsc

      How did you find all the old plists by date – I have ha nothing but problems since I upgraded to Mojave, spent hours on phone with Apple support only to be told it was a hardware issue, then had a local tech guru who knows apple inside out tell me that it is Mojove and it needs to be reinstalled. Now – of course it is Catalina that has come out. I want to format my hard drive, which is backed up.
      But figure if those plist are on the backup it will only create the same problems so think I should delete them first. Only problem is that when I shut down or do a restart it takes like 2 days for iMac to connect / find my internet.

      Reply
  • Sarah

    Just how do I do a spotlight search if my finder is not responding?

    Reply
  • Anin

    My finder is unresponsive . Tried to delete the plist file using terminal and it say “No such files found” and my desktop icons are not there either . Also it is constantly loading (the rainbow circle that rotates) .

    Reply
  • Greg

    If my finder isnt working, how can I use spotlight to find the terminal app? Or go to applications>utilities??

    Reply
    • The Gaff

      Exactly! I need to fix the finder but cant get past the finder to access anything to fix it.

      Reply
  • K. Mallesh

    Exlent app.. Very helpful app

    Reply
  • Travis

    I had tried many things, it was super slow driving me nuts on High Sierra. Your delete preferences file in the library really worked. The Dr. Cleaner is no longer available, just FYI, I didn’t feel like spending $35 for Clean My Mac. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Bolaji Moyosoreoluwa

    i keep getting the respond
    rm: /Users/og/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plis: No such file or directory

    in my terminal prompt

    Reply
    • Joshua Dela Cruz

      rm ~/Users/og/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist

      try this instead.

      Reply
      • Miguel Laverde

        didnt work either

        Reply
    • Ubaid

      Its “plist” not plis

      Reply
  • Micki Silvestros

    I have done the terminal thing and it worked but did not solve the problem of the finder being really slow/unresponsive. Is there something else I can try?

    Reply
  • Judi Braunstein

    Just upgraded to Mojave OS and Finder keeps going in and out. It closed down and now I can’t get it to open at all. Also my office 365 apps are very slow in opening and in many cases I get a message that it is not functioning and to force quit. Are there any corrections to be able to access my folders in finder. I have most of my information saved in dropbox that I access through finder. Help please! Very frustrating!

    Reply
    • Zee

      What can I do if I can’t even get Terminal to open?! And tried Go To Folder ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Finder.plist and it is no where to be found.

      This issue started out suddenly, I didn’t even update to the latest version. I am trying to do so but every time I upgrade while logged in it keeps crashing. So I tried to do it via Recovery Mode and there seems to be an error to install Catalina operating system.
      Please help!

      Reply
  • appleuser65465484421

    simple folder opening in 10.13.3 (0,4 sec after click) compare to snow leopard 10.6.8 (0,0001 sec after click),boths systemps on ssd,

    how to make it as fast as on snow leopard?

    Reply
  • Alicia D

    My finder keeps timing out and being unresponsive for my MacBook pro. it was just upgraded to using the Sierra. It is very frustrating. I cannot move a folder without it crashing. Please help!

    Reply
  • Rockallite

    This REALLY works!

    Reply