Relaunch the Mac OS X Finder

Mar 22, 2011 - 12 Comments

Finder Generally speaking, if you kill the Mac OS X Finder it will automatically restart itself as it should. We say “generally” because from time to time things don’t go exactly as planned, and on rare occasions the Finder won’t reopen itself after being killed, restarted, or manually quit.

When the Finder doesn’t auto relaunch itself after being quit or restarted, you can manually force it to launch by using the Terminal. Because the Finder is basically an application, this forces it to open again, or re-open is perhaps more accurate.

How to Relaunch Finder in OS X When It Won’t Re-Open On It’s Own

It’s important to note how this is different from simply restarting Finder. In this case, the Finder just won’t open after the process status has changed, thus you have to open Finder again manually through the command line.

Terminal is found within the /Applications/Utilities/ folder, and the following command syntax will open the again as if it was any other application:

open /System/Library/CoreServices/

Hit return, and the Finder will open and things should be back to normal again. This works because Finder is ultimately an app like any other, it’s just a system service, and as we all know it’s how users browse the file system of OS X.

Additionally, as Lauri pointed out in the comments, you may also be able to use the -a flag attached to open to reopen Finder without pointing to the full system contents path, like so:

open -a Finder

The -a flag attached to open specifies “Application”, meaning you can usually just enter the applications name without the complete path to the containing directory. This command is listed second because it may not work for some user situations, depending on their bash profile, access privileges, and specifics of the OS X installation, whereas the first command is pretty much guaranteed to work because it is directly pointing to the complete path.


If the above commands were issued properly and the Finder still fails to launch, you may try issuing one of the commands again and checking the syntax to be sure everything is correct. If the failure persists, the simplest resolution may be to reboot the Mac completely to get everything back in functioning order.


Related articles:

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


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  1. Brian says:

    Neither open /System/Library/CoreServices/ or open -a Finder works for me. Clicking on Finder in the dock doesn’t work, either. Are there any other suggestions on what might re-open Finder?

    • epistemology says:

      I have the same problem as Brian. None of these solutions work. I can get to Spotlight and I can run any other app. Rebooting works but this is a recurrent problem and rebooting is a pain since this is a server I run remotely. HELP.

  2. Raf says:

    How can I open the terminal if finder won’t launch (and therefore I can’t get to the applications folder)?

  3. Nickkkkk says:

    My launchpad wont open, and application wont respond. Ima go kill myself

  4. Lauri Ranta says:

    `open -a Finder` also works.

  5. Alberto says:

    I just click the icon in the dock :D :D
    (Why geeks always look for complex solutions? It is a Mac, not a PC…)

    • Riley says:

      Sometimes Finder will crash and launching from the dock becomes impossible. Processes can crash on Mac just as hard as they do on windows, and Finder is the worst offender here. This isn’t geeks looking for a complex solution, it’s looking for a way to fix something that is actually broken.

  6. ulYses says:

    What about just clicking the icon in the dock? :-)

    • indiaca says:

      I sometimes have the problem that the Finder is just gone..
      Klicking on the Finder icon in the dock solves my problem!

      Thanks for this great non-Geek tip! :-)

    • Chris says:

      Thanks for the tip !!
      The method in the article left me in the blank … How do I access the Terminal if in the first place I cannot access the Finder to get to the Applications folder ???

  7. Ian says:

    Finder always relaunches for me after a killall but a kill -9 seems to prevent it doing so.

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