There are a few reasons why you might need to restart the Finder on a Mac - that’s the app where you can view your files and folders and move things around (and, um, find things). You may need to relaunch the Finder after you have made changes to your preferences or configurations. Maybe the Finder is exceptionally slow, not responding, keeps crashing randomly, or you are seeing a Finder Quit Unexpectedly message, and you are hoping that restarting it will fix the problem.

Before we show you how to relaunch or quit the Finder, there are a couple of reasons why your Finder might be slow or not be working properly (perhaps you can’t drag or copy files, or it’s freezing when you use it).

Things can start to slow down as you run low on storage - this is why it’s recommended that you should keep 20% of your storage space free - so it might be worth looking into this if you are experiencing a recurring problem with the Finder.

The other thing that can slow down the Finder is Spotlight indexing, which can happen just after you have transferred lots of files to a Mac, or when you upgraded to a new version of the macOS. You’ll be able to tell if Spotlight indexing is the cause of your problem by clicking on the magnifying glass icon in the menu at the top of your screen and checking if the word indexing appears when you do a search.

Once you have ruled out these scenarios, it may be that relaunching the finder is a solution for you. In which case, luckily, it’s easy to relaunch the Finder.

How to relaunch the Finder

If your Finder hasn’t completely ceased up then relaunching it is really simple.

  1. Open a Finder window open and make sure it is selected.
  2. Now press the Shift key and while holding it down click on the Apple logo in the menu on the top left of your screen.
  3. You’ll see the words Force Quit Finder - click on that.
  4. You will see the Finder window will disappear and then reappear as the Finder relaunches.

How to relaunch the Finder when it’s not responding

If you are having problems with the Finder and that’s making it difficult to select the app (and the above method isn’t working). You could try this:

  1. Press and hold the Alt/Option key.
  2. Right-click on the Finder icon in the Dock.
  3. You will see an option to Relaunch, click on that.

Force Quit the Finder with a key combination

Another way is to use a key combination to open the Force Quit window.

  1. Press Command + Option + Escape, this will bring up the Force Quit Applications window.
  2. Scroll until you see the Finder and then select it in the list and click on the Relaunch button.

Force Quit the Finder using Terminal

You can also force quit the Finder via Terminal.

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. Type killall Finder.

Force Quit the Finder in Activity Monitor

Another way to force quit the finder is via Activity Monitor.

  1. Open Activity Monitor.
  2. Click on the CPU usage tab.
  3. Scroll through the list until you see the Finder and select it.
  4. Click the X in the menu to quit the process - in this case the Finder.

If the Finder still isn’t responding you may need to restart your Mac. We have an article on troubleshooting common Mac problems here.