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OS X: Finder won't quit – Logout Timeout

I’ve noticed a few problems with OS X on my Macbook over the last couple of weeks.

I’ve got added ‘Keychain Access’ to my menubar (or toolbar – the one up the top anyway) so that I can just hit ‘Lock Screen’ when I step away from my machine at work. In general it’s been working like a champ but over the last couple of weeks something seems to have gone awry.

On occasions, it just doesn’t work. No errors to the screen, nothing. It just doesn’t do _anything_. This message is added to the system.log:

loginwindow[34]: ERROR | WSActivateApp | SetFrontProcess({0, 3978187}) returned error -600. Unable to activate process.

Additionally, when this problem manifests, I can’t restart OS X either. Choosing Restart from the Apple menu just restarts Finder. After about 2 minutes it throws up a dialogue saying (I’ll Skitch this next time to get the complete error) along the lines of “Logout Timeout. Restart failed because Finder failed to quit, try using Force Quit..”.

Using Force Quit to restart Finder doesn’t fix it, still the same problem.

This is added to the system.log:

com.apple.launchd[238] ([0x0-0x3cd3cd].com.apple.finder[7004]): Stray process with PGID equal to this dead job: PID 7006 PPID 1 smbclient

I have to do a hard shutdown using the power button and then restart – which seems to fix whatever the problem was. So much for all the “At least you don’t have to reboot OS X all the time” comments.

I’ve not installed nor changed anything recently that I can think would have any bearing here and I’ve also quit EVERY running application that I can to see if something is locking Finder up.

This thread “Finder Won’t Quit” on the Apple Support Forums, this thread on Yahoo Questions and this one on MacTalk shows i’m not the only one. No one seems to have come up with a definitive fix or RCA yet. I’m considering trying to log a defect with Apple, if I can find out how. I don’t have the time to piss about with the ‘Genius Bar’ crap though.


  1. Bill says:

    I’m having this exact same issue. A -600 from SetFrontProcess() means “process not found”. I haven’t figured out how to map the arguments to a process id. I did find that killing loginwindow does log you out. I presume you could reboot gracefully from there.

    In my case, all I want to do is lock my screen while I’m away from my desk, so this workaround is a little much.

  2. Macca says:

    This happened again last night, it’s getting more frequent.

    I always just set OS X to sleep rather than shutdown, by just closing the lid.
    Occasionally, after I’ve logged in (well, entered password) after resuming sleep, I just get left with a blank screen. No desktop, nothing. All keypresses result in a tone from the keyboard.
    I have to re-enter sleep (close lid) and then log in again.

    It’s after that has happened that I’m unable to shutdown/restart/lock screen.
    I also can’t lock the keychains so i’m starting to wonder if it’s something to do with the sleep data stored on disk that can’t be re-read to memory..

    Will try running Onyx or Disk Validation later on.

  3. […] last post mentioned that I was having some intermittant issues with my Macbook after resuming from sleep, in […]

  4. Macca says:

    To get around this at the moment, without hard rebooting, just kill the WindowServer process.
    It kicks you out of your session and your works gone so same situation as hard rebooting but without the delay 😛

    Still looking into it, Google is no help.

  5. biggflynn says:

    I am also having this issue with the finder not responding at shut down on my MacPro tower. I have been forced to hold down power button to shut down computer. i’m using a UPEK finger print lock, do you think that could have anything to do with it?

  6. Macca says:

    Do you get the same problem with out that connected? Try shutting down, unplug that from the USB completely, restart and try to shutdown without it.

  7. Chiang says:

    Next time, if it crashes like that, try this command in terminal to do soft shutdown:

    sudo shutdown -h now

    Then, restart the computer and hold shift key until you see the clock is running.
    After log in, wait for several min to let computer clean up the virtual memory and then restart it.

  8. Macca says:

    @Chiang – What a timely post – as soon as I got to the office today, I had the same issue again.
    I’ve followed your instructions, it booted to safe mode (eventually) then I rebooted to normal.
    Lets see how long it lasts now..


  9. PAC says:

    Same problem here. Has anyone found a definitive fix?

  10. Macca says:

    @PAC – Nope, not yet. I’ve just migrated to a brand new Macbook Pro running 10.5.2 and got the same problem within 2 days.
    I have a hypothesis now that this is to do with devices connected over USB, I had both an iPod and a Windows Mobile 6 phone connected at sleep and wake time.
    I don’t think i’ve seen this occur without things connected up at either sleep or wake.

  11. Scott Shattuck says:

    A workaround is that you can enable fast user switching, provided you have at least one other account (Guest perhaps). Then you can select “Login Window…” from the fast user menu bar item. This locks the account without losing the active work.

  12. Wiggles says:

    It’s definitely not anything to do with USB devices as i’ve had this exact problem on my MB Pro with nothing attached. As mentioned before it’s definitely related to sleep as sometimes you open the lid and login, and instead it goes back to sleep. Close the lid, open and login again and everything appears ok except hot-corners screen saver doesn’t work (as in literally its like the corners have been disabled) and you have this same same problem with the finder not quitting. Very odd….did clearing the virtual memory work?

  13. Macca says:


    Just killing the window server process kicks you back to the login, after which it’s fine again for an indeterminate amount of time. As an aside, It hasn’t happened since I stopped using Adium….

  14. mikes says:

    A buddy of mine was just having this problem. I shut his computerdown by holding the powerkey down. Zapped his pram and the problem is gone. option+command+p+r

  15. Joe Hutsko says:

    Thanks for the tip, mikes, worked for me as well. – JOEyGADGET

  16. michaela says:

    I’m sorry guys, but I’ve to ask How do you zap the pram and when. I’ve the same problem but not being a mac guru makes it hard to follow your solution.

    So I have to press the powerkey to shutdown and the when it restarts I do what? pressing option+command+p+r? or what?


  17. Macca says:

    Hey Michaela,

    This should help explain:

    Hope it helps!


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