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How to Fix a Slow ‘Spinning Beach Ball’ in Finder on Mac OS X

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Is Finder on your Mac ever slow as molasses with the dreaded spinning ‘beachball’ of death? It always seemed to be the case on my 2012 MacBook Air lately, running OS X Yosemite 10.10.3.

The issue was every time I wanted to save a file from the web to the Downloads folder (my default save folder), I’d get that dreaded beachball and want to choke-slam my Mac as I’d have to wait a good 5-6 seconds for it to go away. Even after using Disk Utility to verify and repair disk permissions did not fix the issue.

Mac beach ball

But today I finally fixed the issue, which may or may not work for you, but it did for me, so that’s why I’m sharing it. All I had to do was empty the entire Downloads folder to the Trash. I had over 1,500 items within that folder and clearing it has solved my problem.

If you’re experiencing any slowness with Finder and the dreaded beachball, try emptying the specific folder you’re dealing with, as it could make the colourful spinning beachball a thing of the past.

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  • Michael F

    Looks as if this actually may be due to a Dropbox bug as well. I was having this as well (and my Downloads folder was also big.) But when you go to Dropbox’s Preferences, and uncheck “Dropbox Finder Integration”, the lag goes away, at least for me. This seems to be a bug that only crops up with Dropbox Finder Integration + folders with lots of files.

  • ePatient_Dave

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!

    I’ve been searching MONTHS for the cause of this.

    I did not have to empty any folder, personally.

  • raykinton

    Thanks so much, I have been struggling with this issue for months. Your fix worked on my computer.

  • Cheers!

  • Brian Bunn

    Holy freakin underwear!!!!! Thanks a million bazillion, Michael F! Just like ePatient_Dave, I’ve been researching this for months! Even thought my computer was on it’s way out! If I ever meet you in this lifetime, the beer is on me! :))

    This worked perfectly!

  • For me, just turning of WiFi for a moment did the trick ! Utter magic ! Killing the finder only worked for a few minutes. Rebooting was my only option. I’d still like to know why – but now it’s a two second’s job to stop it.

    My downloads were fewer than 50 – and not all that huge either by the way, hardly 2 gigs.

  • Jillson

    No idea if you’ll see this since it’s 2 years later but you just saved no telling how many innocent bystanders who would have been injured when i threw my mac out the window of my 3rd floor office. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • I have had multiple recurrences of this problem, and so far, toggling the WiFi has always fixed it.

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