Docker Desktop won’t reopen on macOS by Josh Sherman


After months of waiting, I finally received the MacBook Pro that I had ordered back in February. Thus far, it’s been a solid machine with crazy battery life, but not without it’s quirks.

One recent quirk was with Docker Desktop. I had the app open and I quit it instead of just closing the window. Things seemed to have gone fine, the app appeared closed, and the menu bar icon went away.

Since I was still messing around with Docker, I went to reopen Docker Desktop again. Upon doing so, nothing happened. Over and over and over, nothing.

My theory is that something went horribly awry with trying to shut down the Docker daemon, and that left things in a borked state. I also suspect that a reboot would have fixed things, but that would have just been too easy.

When encountering these types of situation in Linux, I’d reach for the trusty,
killall commands. Sadly, killall Docker did not get me moving again, and
killall docker just spit back an error due to there not being a process with that name.

Activity Monitor to the rescue!

Upon closer examination, there were a handful of processing related to Docker, including:

  • Docker
  • Docker Desktop
  • Docker Desktop Helper
  • Docker Desktop Helper (GPU)
  • Docker Desktop Helper (Renderer)

And would not you know it, there WAS a process named docker running too!

I went ahead and selected all of the Docker* commands, and hit stop, and then clicked Force Quit.

When I tried running Docker Desktop again, things started up as one would have expected!

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