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4 ways to restart Finder on macOS

Finder is more than just a file browsing app on macOS. It is in fact a whole set of features and a core part of the OS that controls quite a few things. When tweaking macOS from the Terminal, or even running certain types of apps with elevated privileges, you may need to restart the Dock, your system, or just Finder. Here are four ways to restart Finder on macOS.

Menu bar – Apple Menu

Make sure Finder is the active app on your desktop. You can do this by either selecting a Finder window, or you can minimize everything and click an empty area on your screen.

Hold down the shift key and click the Apple menu. Select the Force Quit Finder option. Finder is a core app on macOS so once it quits, it will automatically be run again. The app’s window won’t open but the services behind it will be started.


Hold down the Option key on your keyboard and right-click the Finder icon on the Dock. The context menu will have a Relaunch option. Select it to restart Finder.

Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor lists every single app and service that is running on your Mac. If you’re unable to bring Finder to the front, and its Dock icon is also unresponsive, you can restart Finder from the Activity Monitor.

Open Activity Monitor and look for Finder. Select it and click the end button at the top left. Again, this will quit Finder like the first method in this list but since it is a core app, it will be started again.


If all else fails i.e., your system is unresponsive to the point that the above options cannot be accessed, or you just like to use the Terminal over the GUI, you can restart Finder from there.

Open Terminal and run the following command.

killall -KILL Finder

This will quit Finder and it will automatically start again.

Restarting the Finder can often help resolve small scale problems with your system. It won’t help you if other apps on your system are unresponsive but it does help in many other cases e.g., trouble accessing network locations, mounting disks, and moving files.

Restarting Finder is not a substitute for relaunching the Dock. Restarting Finder will not do what restarting the Dock does so where it’s required to restart the Dock, you should do so instead of restarting Finder. Likewise, if a system restart is needed, restarting the Dock and Finder won’t do the job.

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