Are you wondering how to fix the spinning wheel of death on your MacBook? macOS is an awesome operating system that’s fully optimized for its hardware. As such, users often enjoy a quick and responsive operation- but not always.
Occasionally and without warning, a beachball or rainbow colored circular icon could replace your cursor. Although the icon goes by many names, most tech bloggers refer to it as the spinning wheel of death or SWOD. What does the wheel of death on macOS mean and why it happens, you ask?
When you see the spinning rainbow cursor, it often indicates temporary delays caused by an unresponsive or frozen app. However, there may be other reasons for it as well, such as a faulty hardware. In this case, you may have to contact Apple Support.
However, for an unresponsive app, consider the solutions outlined below that will help you fix the spinning wheel of death (aka beachball cursor).
5 Ways to Fix the Spinning Wheel of Death on macOS
1. Repair Permissions
Repairing permissions is merely making sure the application and its associated files have the right permissions to execute properly. With the launch of OS X El Capitan, Apple introduced a new feature that rendered manual file repairing redundant. Here is how to repair permissions on OS X El Capitan and later.
- Launch the Disk Utility from the Application folder or search for it and open.
- Pick the startup disk from the list.
- Click the First Aid tab and select Repair Disk Permissions.
2. Dynamic Link Editor
Clearing the dynamic link editor cache is another option. This is particularly useful when the application in question uses a shared library of routines in macOS. The dynamic link editor can be cleared in a few easy steps:
- First, Launch Terminal (located in Applications > Utilities), or simply search for it and open.
- Enter the following command: sudo update_dydl_shared_cache-force
- Enter the your MacBook’s administrator password when prompted.
- Now it will take a few minutes to clear the dynamic link editor cache.
3. Identify the CPU Intensive Background Processes
If you’re still facing the same issue after following the above steps, then it could be that another app or daemon is running in the background and consuming a lot of memory. Some third-party apps install a background process that continues to run in the background, such as Anti-Virus apps.
To fix this issue, hit Cmd + Spacebar to launch Spotlight, then type Activity Monitor and open it. Select the CPU tab to see a list of all the background processes, then identify the one that is consuming a lot of CPU. You can also press the % CPU header to list the processes in chronological order, from the most CPU-consuming processes to the least ones.
4. Spotlight Indexing
macOS’s system-wide desktop search can also cause the spinning wheel of death because spotlight indexes all the files and items on the system. If Spotlight spends a long time indexing these files, then it can cause the spinning wheel to appear until it’s done.
You can quickly pinpoint the source of the malfunction using the Activity Monitor with the following steps;
- Hit Cmd + Spacebar to launch Spotlight, then type Activity Monitor and open it.
- Click on the CPU tab.
- Search for processes that are named mdimport, mds, and mdworkers.
- If they having a high CPU percentage, then it means that Spotlight is busy building the index which is why you keep on seeing the rainbow spinning wheel.
You can choose to wait it out or turn off spotlight indexing for specific drives or folders. Here’s how:
- Launch System Preferences.
- Click on Spotlight.
- Click the Privacy tab.
- Now you can add folders and disks to this list to turn off their Spotlight indexing.
5. Repair or Replace Hardware
Faulty hardware can be the cause of the spinning rainbow cursor, such as a damaged hard drive, memory (RAM), or motherboard. In this case, it is best to take your MacBook to a certified Apple technician so that they can diagnose it.
6. Reinstall macOS
If all else fails and you are sure that there isn’t a faulty hardware or apps that is causing this issue, then consider re-installing macOS.
These are some of the solutions that should hopefully help you fix the rainbow spinning cursor, aka spinning wheel of death, on your MacBook. Let us know how it goes in the comments below.