Workaround for the Slow Open / Save Dialog Box Problem in OS X Mavericks

Nov 24, 2013 - 31 Comments

A fair amount of Mac users running OS X Mavericks have discovered a peculiar slow speed issue when attempting to use various actions found in the File menu, including the Open, Save, and Export dialog boxes. The problem manifests as an intensely slow lag when trying to use the Open or Save dialog windows, where the spinning beachball shows up, spins aimlessly for 3-15 seconds, followed by a lengthy slow delay before any files or folders populate the file action windows and allow a user to proceed.

Slow Open and Save dialog box in Mac OS X

This behavior is almost certainly a bug and not all users of OS X Mavericks encounter the problem, thus if you have not experienced this issue there is no reason to make any changes. That said, plenty of commenters in our Mavericks Finder speed fix article also have the slow dialog box problem, and thankfully a workaround solution has been found on Apple Support Forums (thanks Droo!) that may work for some other users encountering the issue.

Note this solution is a workaround, not a proper fix. The slow Open/Save issue seems to pertain to accessing network drives, and this workaround prevents network shares from automatically mounting. Accordingly, this will not be a valid option for users who map network drives for auto mounting, or for users who rely on automating network shares in any way. You must edit a system file using the command line, if you are not comfortable with Terminal then waiting for an official bug fix is probably a better idea.

Launch Terminal and enter the following command:

sudo nano /etc/auto_master

Enter an admin password when requested, then find the line that says “/net -hosts ….” looking something like this:

/net -hosts -nobrowse,hidefromfinder,nosuid

Use the arrow keys to navigate to the front of that string, and then place a # (pound sign) in front of the / to signify that it has been commented out, it should now look something like this:

#/net -hosts -nobrowse,hidefromfinder,nosuid

The modified /etc/auto_master file should now look like this, the #/net has been highlighted:

Workaround for slow Open and Save dialog box problem in Mac OS X

Now hit Control+O followed by return to save the file, then Control+X to exit out of the nano text editor and return back to the command line.

Now you must flush the automount cache, so type the following command string:

sudo automount -vc

Now you should be good to go, so exit out of Terminal and try to access any Open, Save, or Export dialog box window again. The slowness should be gone completely, and you’ll be back to speedy file interactions through the dialog windows as expected.

This bug has been encountered and reported enough that we can assume a solution from Apple is likely to be due in a future OS X Mavericks update, be it 10.9.1 or otherwise. If you do use this automount workaround, remember to remove the # from the /net entry in auto_mount if and when an official bug fix arrives from Apple.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

31 Comments

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  1. Brad Caldwell says:

    Thanks! That seems to have fixed the issue for me. I’ve been wondering about that since upgrading and am glad to finally have the solution!

  2. BP says:

    Thank you…I think I had this bug before upgrading to Mavericks, however!

  3. Tim says:

    I found that this problem occurred for me more with column view than with list view. But I prefer column view in dialog boxes, so I’m looking forward to trying this fix.

  4. I performed a completely clean installation of Mavericks yesterday. Even on a brand new OS, it still happened. This workaround immediately fixed it.

  5. Ross Rasmussen says:

    Thanks. I had several clients report this problem (also had it myself). This really resolved the problem (okay, it worked around it).

  6. Robert says:

    Mine was already commented out? I also didn’t have the problem. Yay me.

  7. Lelio says:

    Thanks!!! You are the best site on MAC area!

  8. Hans says:

    Thanks! This fixed slow Open/Save dialogs right away!

  9. KS Pete says:

    Thanks for the fix. This has been driving me absolutely nuts for a month. I thought my brand new 2013 rMBP had a bad SSD in it.

  10. Lief says:

    Ottimo questo fixa completamente il problema anche su 10.9.1
    Fatelo solo se non vi interessa la condivisione delle cartelle e della connessione.
    Per quanto mi riguarda è stato un fix perfetto, spero comunque che Apple faccia un update ufficiale, perchè così potrò ripristinare una funzione che adesso non uso ma che in futuro mi potrebbe servire

    Great this fix the problem.

  11. Mike says:

    Miraculous! This worked for me, on my 5-year-old Mac Pro. Thank you so much for publishing it.

  12. K says:

    This was so annoying, but this workaround has put an end to it. thanks!

  13. James says:

    Thanks for a solution that works. I am fed up with looking for answers on the Mac support forums only to find idiots all too willing to post rubbish that only compounds the problem

  14. Martin says:

    Thank you. It really works. You should get a medal.

  15. Rog says:

    When I get to the command “Control + O”, I get the warning sound from machine and it won’t go any further…

    I have to manually close out, reopen and change isn’t saved…

  16. Paul says:

    Did not work for me. Still the same old slow save dialogue…very frustrating.

    • PH says:

      Be sure you update to OS X 10.9.2, it includes a bug fix that should resolve the slow and sluggish save window behaviors.

  17. Robert says:

    Unfortunately, this didn’t work. I’ve applied this fix, as well as the fix of deleting com.apple.finder.plist and killing finder, as well as updating to 10.9.2. I still have the slow finder, which takes as long as 35 seconds to populate a directory.

    The strange thing I noticed, is that after deleting the plist file and then killing Finder, Finder reloads and recreates apparently the same plist file I had before, with all the same preferences.

  18. fed says:

    grazie
    Very simple fixing method!
    Explaiend good as well.

  19. Bob says:

    Didn’t work for me.

    Mac Pro 8-core 2.26 GHz, 16 GB RAM
    10.9.2

    Problem is mainly (or only?) with Sibelius music notation software (7.1 and 7.5). When Sibelius is first launched after starting up the computer, the first save of a newly-created file completely freezes the computer for 2-3 minutes before Save dialog appears. Save dialog appears promptly for subsequent saves of the same file, or if you close that first file and create another new one.

    If you quit Sibelius and then re-launch it (without restarting the computer) and create a new file, freeze time for the initial Save is down to 7-8 seconds – better than 2-3 minutes, but still annoying.

  20. Doyle says:

    Thanks so much for this. It works fine for me right up until I hit Control+x, at which point it beeps as if it is an incorrect command. Any ideas?

    • Chaloots says:

      I too have had the same difficulty in exiting the nano text editor with a control X command.

      It’s a shame, because the sluggishness of saving in Finder has become a real PITA. Neither of the two suggestions has worked for me.

      • Melissa says:

        You’ve probably already figured this out, but in case you haven’t, it asks you to save the modifications. For me, this meant simply pressing enter again. Then you can ctrl+x back into the main terminal window. OSX Daily, if at all possible, could you update the instructions in your article to include this step? Also had me stumped for a minute or two!

  21. Avi says:

    Now can anyone figure out how to return Save As into a one click option in the File menu? WTF Apple! Quit fixing something to please Johnny Ive. Quit fixing stuff that ain’t broken!

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  23. Ron says:

    It’s irritating the hell out of me, my computer is completely useless when I try to use finder. Easily taking 2 minutes showing the beach ball. Clicking on something, again 2 minutes the beach ball. Strange that Apple is not doing anything about this issue. Now have to work on my windows laptop to get anywhere because my 4500 dollar Mac Pro is to slow.

  24. Larry says:

    Just applied this to OS X 10.9.4, and it seemed to resolve the finder lockups I have been experiencing. Thanks for that! It has been an ongoing issue since Mavericks came out.

  25. rexkramer says:

    Same super slow finder and open save dialogs in OSX 10.10 Yosemite ?!!!

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