How to combat the spinning wheel of death on a Mac

Dec 19, 2018 | Designer Tips

How to combat the spinning wheel of death on a Mac

Well Mac users, we’ve all been there – you’re spending tireless hours working on your final term paper, creating a masterpiece on Illustrator, or saving your Photoshop project that’s due at midnight, when suddenly, the dreaded spinning pinwheel (AKA the spinning beach ball of death) appears on your screen. Panic quickly follows as you wonder if this little death ball, disguised in a cute rainbow facade, will destroy all of the progress you made since your last save. “Oh no…. when did I last save?!” You think to yourself.

A minute passes. The beach ball continues to spin.

Two minutes go by now. You feel a bead of sweat drip down your forehead. You click out of the application in hopes that when you go back to your project the wheel will be gone. It’s not. It’s taunting you now. What a jerk.

After a brief stage of denial, you realize that the fate of your project depends on some smooth recovery skills. So how do save your work from almost certain death?

Fear not!

Sometimes waiting it out is a good enough solution, but it doesn’t always help, and the time lost while waiting makes it less efficient. Although we can’t guarantee a 100% success rate on all beach ball instances, here is a simple solution that works more often than not!

Here’s how to combat the spinning rainbow wheel of death:

  1. Stay Calm!
  2. Wait at least 15 – 30 seconds to see if the wheel will disappear on it’s own.
  3. If it doesn’t disappear, open your task manager by hitting Command + Option (alt) + Esc on your keyboard.
  4. DO NOT force quit the application. Sometimes doing this will allow you to recover the file, but it often doesn’t.
  5. Instead, go down to the bottom of the task manager list and RESTART the ‘Finder‘.
  6. Wait a few seconds for the Finder to restart.
  7. Go back to your application to see if the spinning wheel is gone (Usually it is – Hooray!)
  8. Celebrate your victory by saving your project immediately and maybe backing it up in a couple of places, because you never know!
  9. Do a happy dance!

The first time we tried this method we were stunned. It actually worked, and it’s been a lifesaver for us ever since! Leave us a comment in our comment section below to let us know if it worked for you!

If this method didn’t work you can try to restart your finder a second time. If it still doesn’t work you may be dealing with a RAM issue on your computer. In future, try not to have too many files opened in your applications while you are working, and only keep applications that you are actively using opened. Sometimes when you have more than one or two applications going at the same time they will slow your computer speed down, which can summon the ‘ol beachball forth.

Gifs from Make a Gif & Giphy

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