Back up all data if you haven’t already done so. Before proceeding, you must be sure you can restore your system to the state it’s in now.
Note: The procedure suggested here will revert the Finder views of all folders in your home folder to the default that you’ve chosen. If you don’t want that, STOP.
Launch the Terminal application in any of the following ways:
☞ Enter the first few letters of its name into a Spotlight search. Select it in the results (it should be at the top.)
☞ In the Finder, select Go ▹ Utilities from the menu bar, or press the key combination shift-command-U. The application is in the folder that opens.
☞ If you’re running Mac OS X 10.7 or later, open LaunchPad. Click Utilities, then Terminal in the page that opens.
Copy or drag — do not type — the line below into the Terminal window, then press return:
find ~ -type f -name .DS_Store -delete
The command will take a noticeable amount of time to run. When a new dollar-sign (“$”) prompt appears below what you entered, quit Terminal. See whether there’s an improvement.
I assume you don't have any backups at all as yet?
You'd know if you had a TM backup because you would have to buy an external drive for it!
Either way, you now need an external drive, and in the circumstances, access to another Mac would be most useful.
With another Mac you can use Firewire Target Disc Mode to copy your data to another drive (a USB 2 drive; you can't have another FW device connected to the host during TDM).
Yes, but that rather requires a stable finder to locate the files and drag them to the external disc.
Might be possible to use Terminal, but that's not my field.
Looking back up the thread, you don't appear to have done any diagnostics on the crashing Finder so far?
If not, try doing a Safe Mode boot - hold down cmd and S on startup.
It will take a long time to show the login screen while it runs a disc check and clears some caches.
See if Finder behaves properly there. If so, you should be able to do the data copying in Safe Mode, then restart in normal mode.
Shan't be back for several hours now - bedtime on this side of the pond.
There are several ways to back up a Mac that is unable to fully boot. You need an external hard drive to hold the backup data.
1. Boot from your recovery partition (10.7 or later), a local Time Machine backup volume (10.7.2 or later), or your installation disc (10.6.8 or earlier.) Launch Disk Utility and follow the instructions in the support article linked below, under “Instructions for backing up to an external hard disk via Disk Utility.”
2. If you have a working Mac, and both it and the non-working Mac have FireWire ports, boot the non-working Mac in target disk mode by holding down the key combination command-T at the startup chime. Connect the two Macs with a FireWire cable. The internal drive of the machine running in target mode will mount as an external drive on the other machine. Copy the data to another drive.
3. If the internal drive of the non-working Mac is user-replaceable, remove it and mount it in an external enclosure or drive dock. Use another Mac to copy the data.
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