I'm running OS X and recently upgraded to Lion. Since then, every so often (maybe once every three days or so), my computer gets into a state where every app refuses to quit.

I can open new apps no problem, and all the open apps still work, but quitting them fails, including force quitting them. Usually, the Finder unexpectedly quits shortly thereafter, and the dock freezes sometime after that, followed by the menu bar sometimes.

Sometimes, windows stop losing key status, too (all remain highlighted with colored widgets). Usually, shutting down fails as well (because the open apps cancel logout).

Any idea where to start with this? I'm not even sure what could be causing this. I believe it's occurred with only Finder, Mail, iChat, iCal, and iTunes open.

  • 1
    Similar issue replicated here. Lion on MBP 2011. Although rare, when it happens, it's almost always after waking up from sleep. – Jin Sep 28 '11 at 18:46

I have not come across this exact sequence of events, but have had similar experiences in the past. I believe this is a filesystem related problem. The filesystem gets stuck, waiting for a network connection, looking for a missing usb drive and prevents any 'writes' to any disks (and maybe 'reads' as well). This causes all the applications to freeze and crash one after another.

I would start by unplugging everything except the keyboard, mouse and screen (or just unplug everything if this is a laptop). See if you can get the same crash to happen. If the crash still happens (and you haven't upgraded / replaced the internal harddisk on your Mac) then i would get Apple to look at is as it is likely a hardware fault.

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