How to Stop the Spinning Wheel on your Mac

Photo of a person using their Mac with hand on head

When you first got your Mac, chances are performance was a large consideration. While Mac computers perform very well in most cases, you’ll probably run into a couple of issues while using them. One of these is a rainbow-colored wheel which causes massive annoyance for many users. In this article, you’ll discover four ways to stop the Mac spinning wheel from ruining your productivity.

Mac Spinning Wheel Colors

You may have noticed that there are different colors of the Mac Spinning Wheel. Basically, the wheel means that your computer is busy performing a task. Usually, you’ll see it when working on something involving large file sizes – such as editing photos and videos.

  • Blue spinning wheel: A blue spinning wheel is usually an app indicating that it’s loading.
  • Rainbow spinning wheel: This shows up when macOS taking too long on a task.

Nevertheless, the wheels do get stuck from time to time, so you may need to follow these tips below.

1. Turn Your Mac On and Off Again

When you see the Mac spinning wheel, you’ll notice that you can’t do much – if anything – with your computer. This is especially true when clicking on different windows and trying to shut down the app causing trouble.

The easiest way to stop your computer from seeing the spinning wheel is to turn it off and on again. If you’re unable to use your trackpad, click the on/off button next to F12 on your keyboard. You’ll find this in the top-right corner. 

If the spinning wheel has stopped, but you’re worried it may return, you can turn your Mac on and off again by following these steps:

1. Click on the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your computer screen.

Apple Logo Icon Option

2. When the following list of options appears in a drop-down menu, click on “Restart.”

Restart Mac Select

3. After selecting the restart option, you’ll need to confirm that you want to do this in the pop-up window that appears.

Mac Restart Computer

2. Clearing the Dynamic Link Editor Cache

Once you’ve restarted your computer, you should find that the Mac spinning wheel disappears. However, if this isn’t the case, it’s time to move onto some more advanced solutions.

A lesser-known way to deal with the spinning wheel on your Mac is by clearing the Dynamic Link Editor cache. While doing so sounds daunting, you’ll find the steps straightforward.

To clear your Mac’s Dynamic Link Editor:

1. Go to the magnifying glass option in the top right of your toolbar to open the search bar.

Mac Magnifying Glass

2. Type “terminal” into your search bar and click on the terminal.app.

3. In your Mac terminal, type in:

Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to hit the Enter button on your keyboard. 

Mac Terminal Code

4. Enter your password in the Terminal app.

After your computer has cleared the Dynamic Link Editor, reopen the app you had problems with and check to make sure everything works.

3. Force Quitting Apps

Sometimes you might see the Mac spinning wheel because an app is busy at that given time. If this is the case, you may prefer to force quit that individual app.

To force quit an app:

1. Go back to the Apple logo in the top left of your computer’s toolbar and click on it.

2. In the drop-down menu, navigate to “Force Quit …” You’ll find this option in between “Recent Items” and “Sleep.”

3. After choosing “Force Quit … ” a “Force Quit Applications” window will appear. Select the app you want to quit; you can also highlight multiple apps by holding the Command button while clicking on each app with the trackpad. 

4. Click on the “Force Quit” button in the bottom right.

Force Quit Mac

After force-quitting the app, which should happen soon after completing the final step, reopen it to see if what you did made a difference.

4. Clearing Out Your Storage

Since the spinning wheel on your Mac is an issue related to performance, freeing up some storage space is a wise idea if none of the previous methods have worked so far.

To clear out the storage on your computer, follow these steps: 

1. Navigate to the search magnifying glass at the top of your screen again. 

2. Once your computer has opened up the search bar, type in “storage management.” When the “Storage Management.app” option shows up, select it.

3. In the Storage Management app, reducing your computer’s clutter is an excellent place to start. To do this: 

3.1. Look for the “Reduce Clutter” section and click on “Review Files … ” 

Review Files On Mac

3.2. Go through the files and delete any files you don’t need

4. Once you’ve reduced your clutter, consider removing any apps you don’t use. Finding your list of apps is simple: click on “Applications,” which you’ll see on the left sidebar. 

Mac Review Files Apps

5. Highlight any apps you want to delete.

6. After selecting the app(s) you’d like to remove from your computer, click on the “Delete … ” button in the bottom right of your window.

Mac Delete Selected Apps

You can also free up storage by emptying your Mac’s Bin.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What should I do if I keep getting the Mac Spinning Wheel?

If you keep getting the spinning wheel on your computer after following our advice and clearing out your computer, check to see if you need to update your software. Alternatively, you might need to have an expert diagnose the problem or fix your computer.

2. What are other names for the Mac Spinning Wheel?

There are a few names for the Mac spinning wheel:

  • The Spinning Pinwheel of Death (SPOD) or Spinning Wheel of Death
  • The Mac Beach Ball
  • The Mac Spinning Rainbow Wheel
  • The Loading Wheel

3. Does the Spinning Wheel exist on all Mac computers?

Yes, you’ll find the Spinning Wheel of Death regardless of what Mac computer you’re using, as it’s part of macOS.

Get Rid of the Mac Spinning Wheel with These Tips

This wheel is not only a cause of frustration; it can derail your entire day and prevent you from completing all the tasks you wanted to achieve. Fortunately, you have plenty of options when it comes to stopping this issue. Usually, the spinning wheel isn’t a persistent problem, but it’s worth keeping an eye on in case it turns into a more significant issue.

Are you having other issues with your Mac? Read on to learn how to repair disk permissions on Mac and fix a mouse not working in macOS.

Danny Maiorca Danny Maiorca

Danny has been a professional writer for over five years. Now based in Copenhagen, Denmark, he plied his trade working for various companies in the UK — where he was born — before taking the leap into freelancing. He specializes in iOS and Mac.

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