I keep getting the Spinning Wheel of Death on my Mac and I have reinstalled OS X 10.5 three times now! It happens on all the applications and I'm thinking of upgrading to Snow Leopard to get rid of the problem.

Anyone know what could be wrong? Is it hardware or software? Is this a Common problem? Any ideas?

  • What happens to be running at the time? When does it happen? The beachball is a signifier that the UI is not responsive and there are many, many reasons it could appear.
    – Chealion
    Aug 11, 2010 at 22:54
  • In response to all answers: if you can't run any applications you can't run any applications, so you couldn't use Console or anything like that.
    – None
    Aug 12, 2010 at 22:14
  • @None: You can try having the program open before the instance happens if you know how to trigger it. You can also always check logs after the fact.
    – Chealion
    Aug 12, 2010 at 22:46

3 Answers 3


Check your logs using the Console. In the past I've seen repeated messages in system logs, indicating trouble that beachballs the machine.

You may want to check to see if you have enough RAM and enough space on your hard drive. Use the Activity Monitor to see if your Page in/Page out ratio is increasing.

  • This really helped thanks ghoppe! I've been checking the page in/ page out ratio and i think i need more ram, thanks again ;-)
    – Imran
    Aug 19, 2010 at 13:17

Even though this will be closed, I'll throw you a bone - this is most likely being caused by a failing hard drive: page faults are taking very long to be serviced, and during this time the message loop isn't pumping (to use Win32 terms), so you're getting beachballed.


Belongs on superuser....

but you can use the 'Sample Process' option in activity monitor to get a time profile of a spinning application and see exactly what it's doing: might help

  • You can also try Spin Control.app (Part of the Developer Tools).
    – ischeriad
    Aug 11, 2010 at 23:37

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