i tried 20 ways to fix the slow open / save dialog box problem of finder


Narrator: It was DEVONthink.

For some time now, I have had issues with macOS Big Sur, including the latest version 11.2.1.

The Finder dialog that appears for opening or saving a file, which is used is most if not all applications, would slow down to the point of freezing. The dreaded spinning beach ball of death would appear and I would not be able to select a folder or a file for a good minute or so. That was unnerving.

I started searching for the issue, which seems to happen sometimes for different reasons. I decided to collect and document all solutions in case someone else has it and finds my post. At the end of the post, I will share what worked for me.

All posted solutions to the file open/save dialog freezing with macOS:

Nothing worked. Nothing. Hopefully any of these will work for you!

What worked for me. I was about to format everything and reinstall macOS, when I found this thread on Apple Communities website. It initially looked like yet another “Open and save dialogues are freezing on macOS” (that’s its actual title), but then this answer showed something that caught my eye. An older version of DEVONthink toolbar. I do use DEVONthink. The user found their solution to be DEVONthink RSS feeds collector, which has the ability to "Convert categories and hashtags into tags", which resulted in over 70.000 tags on their Finder. The user was annoyed at this.

I do not use DEVONthink RSS features, but I remembered that I recently tried its e-mail archiving feature. Which features a similar option to extract important words from e-mail subjects and convert these words into tags.

Yeah..that was it.

Tens of thousands of Finder tags freezing macOS Finder.app.

I have not counted them, but, judging by the size of the scrollbar, it was tens of thousands of tags. Finder can’t handle a large number of tags, apparently. I do not use Finder tags, so I never bothered to look into the All Tags.. tab.

These tags are located into /Users/yourusername/Library/Metadata/com.devon-technologies.think3. Removing this folder and relaunching Finder fixed the issue.

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