Resolving the Mysterious "Flashing Finder" Issue in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger

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 Finder on the DockThe ubiquitous, built-in feature of the Mac OS X platform, that never sleeps, can help get to any destination within your Mac OS X volume, allows you to customize your desktop, files and folders and so much more.

As one of the primary built-in features you will find within any of the Mac OS X family of operating systems from Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar), to the newest edition Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, Finder, has always been a very valuable Mac OS X desktop resource across the board. So much so, that many Mac users could not imagine a Mac OS X without it (myself included!)

Although there are a consistently increasing number of Mac users upgrading their systems to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, there are those few faithful Mac users who are still holding strong, devoted to their beloved Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger (versions 10.4.1 to 10.4.11).

So this Mac OS X 10.4 - Best Practice article, is for providing technical assistance with one of the many problems, that a number of Tiger users still experience. One of these problems, though not as common as other Tiger technical issues, is the issue with the Finder mysteriously flashing and there not appearing to be a way to stop it, with either a reboot or Force-Quit-Relaunch of Finder

Finder for one, never flashes, so that is your first red flag. When Finder is in its stable mode, it is static and can be accessed at any time, but it never flashes.

So what would cause Finder to mysteriously flash?  

The culprit is usually a Exc_Bad_Access or KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE which means the Mac OS X directory is unable to execute or launch an affected application, utility or function normally.  This type or failure has also been known to cause a Kernel Panic (fatal internal error)  in Mac OS X, which causes the system to completely lockup, forcing the user to have to reboot the Mac OS X system


To locate and research this error thread you can usually locate its summary within the Logs Files found in the Console utility application, located within the Utilities folder under ~/Library/Logs/CrashReporter/Finder.

I have also have provided you just an idea of what a Finder crash would appear as in the CrashReport log.

Here is a screen shot of what the Console in Tiger looks like:
 View of Console window in 10.4 Tiger
Below is also a sample thread of a Exc_Bad_Access error as the result of Finder not responding or failing

Process:         Finder [13322]
Path:            /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app/Contents/MacOS/Finder
Identifier:      com.apple.finder
Version:         10.4.9 (10.4.9)
Build Info:      Finder_FE-6071900~15
Code Type:       X86 (Native)
Parent Process:  launchd [159]

Date/Time:       2008-10-12 14:09:06.122 -0700
OS Version:      Mac OS X 10.4.9 (9F33)
Report Version:  4

Exception Type:  EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGBUS)
Exception Codes: KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE at 0x0000000000000006
Crashed Thread:  0

Thread 0 Crashed:



So how can this mysterious "flashing" Finder issue be fixed?

As an Expert, your first thought may include running Disk Utility to repair potential damaged permissions and also to repair the hard drive containing the Mac OS X Tiger volume.

Logical technical troubleshooting choice.

If you thought this, nice try.  But unfortunately, a Permissions or Disk Repair, will not stop the flashing Finder issue (Note: at times Finder will crash when in this erratic state- hence a Kernel Panic).

Another thought may be to just go to the core and run the Archive and Install function to replace the damaged Mac OS X directory. Good choice but before you have the Mac user, take that step, have them try this:

There is a possibility the issue may be related to the Mac zip utility application, Stuffit Expander, which when installed, also has aStuffit Expander Preference pane (icons are called "panes" in this window) located within System Preferences.

More often than not this zip utility is the culprit.


You will need to implement these steps below, to attempt to resolve the 10.4 Tiger flashing Finder issue:

• Click on the Apple menu icon, located in the upper left corner of the screen

• From the drop down menu, select System Preferences.

• From within System Preferences, locate and click on the StuffitAVR control panel pane
and turn it to off, to stop its activity.

• Instruct the Mac user close the window and reboot their Mac computer.


In most cases, this procedure will resolve the flashing Finder issue. However, if it does not resolve the issue, as Finder is a built-in utility within the Mac OS X family, the next step would be to have the Mac user take his/her Mac OS X 10.4 installation disk and perform the Archive and Install feature.

What this process will execute, is a complete removal of the damaged or corrupted Mac OS X directory and replace it with a brand new Mac OS X directory of the same version. This procedure also provides the option for user to save the contents of their User Home Folders and Network settings as well.

• Start up from your Mac OS X Install Disc 1 or Install DVD. Please remember to use the install disk that matches the current operating system your system haves.

Usually, you can start from the disk by putting it in your computer, restarting, and holding the C key.
• Hold the C key until you see a White screen, with a Gray Apple icon and eventually a Spinning gear.
• Release the C key only after you see the Spinning gear.      

-Your mac will now boot from the disc and load into the Installer environment.

• Select your language. The Welcome to the Mac OS X
 Installer window appears.

• Click Continue. The Important Information window appears.
• Follow the prompts until you get to the licensing agreement screen

• An agreement sheet appears. If you agree with
  the license agreement, click Agree. Then Select a
  Destination window appears.

• Click the volume that you wish to install to (your primary
  hard drive).

• Click Options. The installation options sheet appears.
• Select Archive and Install.
• Select the volume which already has Mac OS X installed.

• You should also select Preserve Users and Network
, to preserve network and Home directory settings.
• Click OK.

• Click Continue to begin the installation.
• Once the Archive and Install is completed, when you reach your desktop be  sure to run all Software updates
  to bring your new Mac OS X directory back up to current.

 Within the Macintosh HD icon on your Desktop, look for a folder entitled "Previous System Folder" which will
 contain all of your previous Home Folder(s) files from the Mac OS X directory, before the Archive and Install procedure
 was processed.


This link is a great guide from Apple Support on the Archive and Install procedure for Mac OS X versions
Mac OS X 10.1 (Cheetah) to Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger)

About Archive and Install in Mac OS X

This link is also a great guide from Apple Support on the Archive and Install procedure for Mac OS X versions
Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and Mac OS X10.5 Leopard***

About Archive and Install in Mac OS X

Here is the link (below) from Apple for more information about how to locate the Previous System Folder:

How to locate Previous System Folder (after Archive and Install)

*** (Archive & Install Note: There is no there is no Archive and Install feature in Snow Leopard;  a simple re-installation of the Snow Leopard OS X software,  contains similar features of the older Archive and Install procedure of earlier Mac OS X versions, but much more improved, with the ability for the system to remove data it deems incompatible)

So these are basic troubleshooting steps which can be employed to resolve the "Flashing Finder" problem commonly experienced in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger as the result of the installed Stuff it Expander application.

Thank you for reviewing my Best Practices articles for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.  I hope this information will serve as a good resource for you, whenever you encounter an error like this with Tiger Mac Users.



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