What is fseventsd and why is this process running on my Mac?

When looking into the Activity indicator You noticed the “fseventsd” process on macOS and are now wondering what this process does on the Apple Mac? Then you've come to the right place. Below you will find information about the assignment, purpose and problems with fseventsd. Also on the topic malicious software I'll go along with it. But I can reassure you right from the start: the macOS process is called fseventsd save Malware and does not cause any damage to your computer.

What is fseventsd? What does this macOS process do on the Apple Mac? And why does it cause high CPU load and RAM usage? All details about the function, usage and troubleshooting can be found here!
What is fseventsd? What does this macOS process do on the Apple Mac? And why does it cause high CPU load and RAM usage? All details about the function, usage and troubleshooting can be found here!

The fseventsd process on the Mac: documents and folders always in view

In the Mac background process fseventsd it is a Daemon, which, among other things, makes using files under macOS more convenient. The full name is F System Events Daemon. The process is linked to the FSEvents API, which allows individual apps to be informed when changes have been made to the file system or to individual directories and files. The whole thing has been working in its current form for a long time Mac OS X 10.7 Lion (2011) on the Apple Mac.

In collaboration with the device file /dev/fsevents, the fseventsd process combines several changes to a directory that are currently occurring into an overview. Using the FSEvents API, individual apps can “subscribe” to information about captured changes to keep track of files and folders associated with them. If moving a file results in an error message in other systems when you want to retrieve it from the directory of recently used documents, the app on macOS knows about the directory change.

Example: An app finds moved files instead of just looking in the original location

What sounds complex can be explained with a simple example: If you... Pages If you create and save a document, you can access it again in the dock by right-clicking on the Pages symbol and the file name of the most recently used documents. This also works if you have since moved the file to another folder.

Pages can therefore access the document because macOS has recorded in the background that the original storage location has been changed to a new one. This means that no error message appears indicating that Pages cannot find what it is looking for in the original location; instead the file opens as intended. Because for .pages files, Pages.app has “subscribed” to the directory changes at FSEvents.

The Finder also relies on the file system records

In addition to individual apps that can keep an eye on their own files, documents and projects, the fseventsd process is of course also for Finder extreme important. Only if macOS keeps an eye on all files and directories in the background can the Finder display them in graphical form. Background processes like fseventsd make it possible to move files from one folder to another in real time in the Finder and have them displayed directly.

fseventsd with high CPU load or RAM usage

The fseventsd daemon is a tried and tested background process that has been integrated into Mac operating systems for a very long time and usually runs inconspicuously and uses only a small amount of resources. A high CPU load or the use of a noticeable amount of main memory (RAM) is a rare but certainly possible occurrence. If you are moving a lot of files, a (manual) backup  or copy/move entire hard drives full of large project data, then you should wait for the corresponding actions and then see whether the process calms down.

But if the CPU and RAM problems occur without many manual changes to files and folders, then it's time to troubleshoot. For example, you can close the last app you opened to see if that is the cause. Maybe your FSEvents requests are bugged. The same can apply to an app that was installed shortly before the problems and does not necessarily have to be running actively. Uninstall it as a test to completely stop your requests to the directory overview. And of course the always valid tip: Just restart your Mac (switch it off and switch it on again). That should help too.

More serious problems that can overwhelm fseventsd

If restarting the Mac doesn't work, you can't identify a single app as the cause of the CPU and RAM load and there may also be other macOS processes running around, then the reason may be a little more serious. Here are a few options that you should consider, but don't have to panic about:

  • Spotlight index issues: Has the macOS internal search function Spotlight If you have a problem creating or updating your index, the corresponding requests to the fseventsd daemon can overload it. If you want to reset the Spotlight index to solve problems with it, I recommend this article: Spotlight search can't find anything? Rebuild Spotlight Index - Using Hard Methods.
  • Broken Time Machine backups: If you don't have any other problems backing up large hard drives using Time Machine backup (or another backup solution), but the current backup attempt is using high resource utilization, then that could be the problem. If necessary, cancel the current backup creation, restart the Mac and then initiate a completely new backup session.
  • Problems with external storage media: Both damaged memory and improperly used USB sticks or external hard drives can cause problems. If necessary, you have to format the connected storage if it becomes annoying with high system load even after restarting the Mac. But what can also happen: If you don't eject the storage medium properly before disconnecting, the fsevents-uuid subprocess can run into emptiness, randomly accumulate requests and thus slow down the system. A simple restart also helps here.
  • Macintosh HD file system error: In addition to external storage media, the Apple Mac's internal storage can also cause problems with the file system daemon. From a serious hardware failure to operation after a power outage, there are multiple triggers for such failures. Regardless of the reason, errors in the file system can cause related processes to stop working properly and overload the Mac. You can then try formatting the Macintosh HD after data recovery, reinstalling macOS and rebuilding your file system. If nothing works, the memory probably needs to be replaced.
  • Infection with malware: From the Rootkit towards the spyware There are various malware that can also infect the Mac. Frequent changes to files and folders and their copying to an external server can of course put a lot of strain on the associated processes. You can find and eliminate malware Malwarebytes and use similar apps. You can find out more about malicious software here: Malware lexicon – What is malware and what types are there?

Conclusion: The fseventsd process makes Mac usage easier

If apps can keep an eye on the files and directories associated with them via a central overview, then that is a big advantage when using a computer comfortably. As a rule, this also results in less CPU and RAM load, as not every app has to scan the entire hard drive for moved files. A simple FSEvents query and a storage location comparison is enough and is much faster. That's why the fseventsd process is a wanted and required process on macOS, which is part of the standard repertoire of the process list in Activity Monitor.

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