If you are a Mac user, you might have encountered the ‘Spinning Pinwheel of Death’. For those who don’t know what it is, the Spinning Pinwheel of Death refers to the multicolored pinwheel mouse pointer on Mac computers that signifies a temporary delay.
In SPOD, the pinwheel keeps on spinning for a seemingly infinite time with no sign of it stopping. Having said that, this spinning wheel does not necessarily indicate your Mac has frozen and needs to be rebooted, it sometimes just requires a bit of extra patience.
The reasons for this Spinning Pinwheel of Death can be many. One of your applications might be stalled and you can bring back the Mac to a normal state by bringing the application to the front. You can do this by clicking on the Desktop that gives you back control of your Mac and you can do a force quit of the problematic application. You might see the spinning wheel again when you relaunch the problematic application.
To permanently fix the issue, you need to repair permissions that will ensure the problematic application has the required permissions to run the files needed.
- Download the Disk Utility 10.10 (Yosemite Version)
- Install and open the disk utility app
- From the list of volumes on the right-hand side, select the Disk (MacintoshHD or something similar)
- Click the First Aid tab
- Click Repair Disk Permissions
The above troubleshooting steps are useful for Mac users running OS X Yosemite or earlier. If your Mac is running OS X El Capitan or later, you can skip the Repair Permissions part and try the next troubleshooting steps given below.
Clearing Dynamic Link Editor
The OS X uses dynamic link editor (DYLD) to load and link applications to shared libraries. The majority of the applications in iOS use shared libraries and it is the job of the dynamic link editor to get the shared library and the application on speaking terms. The DYLD stores a cache of recently used library entry points. If the cache gets corrupted, it can cause the spinning wheel of death. There are no specific reasons that the cache becomes corrupted, but experts believe clearing the DYLD cache might eliminate the spinning wheel of death problem. Here are the steps to clear the DYLD cache:
- Open the Applications folder
- Open the Utilities folder
- Open the Terminal application
- At the Terminal prompt, type the following command:
sudo update_dyld_shared_cache –force
- Press Enter
- The operating system will prompt you for the administrator password. Type the administrator password and when the password is accepted the process of resetting the DYLD cache begins. The Terminal will display some warnings. Don’t worry it only indicates the DYLD cache is being cleared.
It will take some time to clear the DYLD cache and when the process is finished the Terminal will return on the screen. If the problem persists, try the solutions set out below:
Finding the suspected app
There is always a possibility that the suspected app is not the root cause of the problem but rather some other app. Sometimes an app’s background processes run in the background and hog resources, which might lead to the spinning wheel of death. There is a simple trick to find which app is causing the problem.
For example, if Safari is running in the foreground and you are experiencing a slowdown and want to check which app is the culprit, first bring another app to the foreground. If the spinning wheel goes away when you bring another app to the foreground and returns back when you start using Safari again, you can conclude the problem is linked to the Safari browser. You need to try this method with all apps until you get the actual app that is causing the spinning wheel issue.
If you are unable to find the suspected app, you need to try the solution below:
Check whether Spotlight indexing is causing the problem
The Spotlight is a system-wide search feature available in Mac. It indexes all items and files on the systems and the Spotlight indexing might be hogging resources and causing the spinning wheel problem. To pinpoint the source of the problem, you need to use the Activity Monitor. Here are the steps to follow:
- Open Finder
- Go to the Applications folder
- Go to the Utilities folder
- Find the shortcut to the Activity monitor and click it to launch the Activity Monitor
- Select the CPU tab
- Look for the process with names – mdimport, mdworkers, and mds. These processes are related to MetaData Server process that is used by the Spotlight app
If you notice a high percentage of CPU activity for these processes, it means Spotlight is building indexes. You need to wait until the indexing process finishes. If it is taking a considerably long time and you no longer want to wait, you can always turn off Spotlight indexing for specific folders or driver by following the steps given below:
- Click System Preferences in the Apple menu to launch it
- In the System Preferences window, click Spotlight Preference Pane ( a magnifying glass icon)
- Click on the Privacy tab
- Drag and drop drive and folders to exclude them from the Spotlight index