How to Stop ‘Spinning Wheel’ on Mac

You can call it 'spinning wheel,' you can call it 'beach ball,' you can call it 'wheel of death' or any other way you like. The thing is, whatever you name it, the result will be the same – a slower MacBook Pro or Air, iMac or Mac mini. A spinning wait cursor (an official name) can easily drive most of the users mad. Instead of breaking your Apple computer against the wall in rage, try to find out the main cause of the problem without losing your temper and then solve it ASAP.

What does the spinning color wheel mean on a Mac?

mac spinning wheel

For starters, we'll remind that spinning wheel stands for an app trying to cope with more operations than it can at a time. It usually happens to different browsers like Safari, Google Chrome, or Mozilla. It is not necessarily the fault of weak/slow Internet connection.

If you’re lucky, you will observe the beachball for a minute or just several seconds. In other situations, it may show up over and over again. Sometimes, it gets endless so that a Mac owner has nothing else to do except for force quitting the hung app or restarting the device. Of course, the entire data is lost this way. That is why a spinning wheel is also dangerous in addition to being matchlessly irritating. In any case, a beach ball on your screen means that the software is closing the processing tasks to free up space and memory for the new commands. When the application becomes fully unresponsive, it hangs, making the user worried or sleepy. It depends on how urgent the tasks are.

Spinning Ball: What's the Quick Fix?

Both Apple native utilities and third-party cleaners provide Mac maintenance. Basically, keeping your Mac clean and healthy is the only sure-fire way to get rid of the Spinning Beach Ball of Death (SBBOD). Many Mac owners treat it as the cause of some larger problem. But it is not actually true. The beach ball is a symptom of the “disease,” and you should know the primary cause(s) to fix it properly and on time.

Purchasing a new machine is the measure of last resort. A user may need it once the processor is dead, but it's not the case with the beach ball.

There are plenty of reasons why Mac slows down, and its owner starts seeing the annoying spinning wheel of death on its screen – e.g., a huge number of startup items, resource-hungry apps running in the background or filled hard drive. Of course, some users can spend some money on new RAM or SSD, but what about people who do not want to start with extra expenses?

In the next section, take a closer look at the possible ways to fix problems associated with the beach ball.

First and Foremost Steps to Get Rid of the Spinning Color Wheel Issue

Are you stuck on Apple logo and spinning wheel? Both Mac OS X and macOS can experience problems associated with the rainbow-colored pinwheel/circle. Below you can find a list of the possible ways to fix problems that could lead to the never-ending turning spinning beach ball on your screen.

Method #1: Uninstall useless apps and extensions

You can do that by simply dragging and dropping them to Trash. Preferably, you also should clear out app-related stuff that may stay on your Mac even after you remove unneeded software. Usually, it lurks in the Library folder and contains the name or the acronym of the app or its developer in the title.

To speed up the process, you can make use of specially designed cleaning apps that will do the job in your place.

Method #2: Free up some disk space

Many ways to free up the disk space on Mac exist. With the help of Activity Monitor, search for the largest and outdated files on your Apple computer. You may also look for the duplicates with the help of the third-party cleaner of your choice. Other types of junk include temporary files, login items, startup items, cache, cookies, downloads, etc.

Method #3: Re-index Spotlight

Spotlight is something that allows searching for the files you store on your Mac. The utility creates and maintains the index. Sometimes, it appears to be corrupted. Thus, take the recommended steps to fix it:

  • Select Apple menu and go to System Preferences. There you will find Spotlight.
  • Pick the Privacy tab.
  • Drag the target item you wish to index once more to the locations list that Spotlight cannot research. An alternative is to select a plus button and pick the desired folder/disk.
  • From this list, pick the folder/disk you have added recently. After that, push the minus button to replace it.
  • Shut down System Preferences. The spotlight will re-index the contents of the folder/disk.
stop mac spinning wheel

Got Some Idle Money? Purchase Additional RAM

Setting up a third-party cleaner might be an excellent solution for those who do not possess enough skills and experience to erase useless files or choose extra RAM/SSD/HDD. Working with utilities like Terminal may be risky for the newbies, so it is better to decide on the special cleaning tool.

However, if you decide to buy extra RAM, be ready that only advanced users can install it properly. Otherwise, you'd better contact an Apple Store or an authorized service center to have RAM installed.

How Can I Handle a Safari Spinning Wheel?

As far as Safari is the most popular browser among Mac owners being set by default, it would be useful to dedicate a separate block to solving the problem with its spinning wheel. After the upgrade to macOS Sierra or High Sierra, you may notice that the browser is hanging up too often. There is nothing left except for the Force Quit option.

Force Quit is not the best decision as the browser may finally fail. A smarter way out is to follow this step-by-step instruction for Mac users to test Safari’s work and fix the issue.

  1. Start with erasing caches.
  • Shut down all windows and stop the apps.
  • Push the Option key and pick Go in the Finder application.
  • From the drop-down menu, choose Library. Go to Library → Caches →apple.Safari
  • Right-click the com.apple.Safari and choose Move to Trash.
  • Shut down the windows. Restart Safari.
  1. Eliminate com.apple.Safari.plist.
  • Start with the backup with the help of TimeMachine, iCloud, or other available options.
  • Pick Empty Trash.
  • Stop all apps.
  • Push the Option button and select Go in Finder window.
  • Pick Library form the offered menu.
  • Move this way: Library → Preferences →apple.Safari.plist
  • Right-click and choose Move to Trash.
  • Reboot the computer and restart the target browser. Pick Start Using Safari link.
  1. In case this method proves ineffective, restore com.apple.Safari.plist from Trash. To do so, take the following steps:
  • Right-click the Trash icon in the Dock. Choose Open.
  • Right-click the com.apple.Safari.plist and pick Put Back.
  • Select Replace.
  • In case your preferred browser rejects loading a page/website or its items are not available, read Apple's troubleshooting guides for Safari here and here.

We hope, this article will help you resolve your issues, and you will be seeing the rainbow-colored ball on a sunny beach but not on the screen of your Mac!