apple imac swod spinning wheel of death

What is the cause of the Mac Spinning Wheel of Death (SWOD)? AKA “Spinning rainbow pinwheel” , “Spinning ball”, “Spinning wheel”, “Spinning beach ball” and how can it be fixed?

apple spinning-pinwheel

Apple even refer to it as a “spinning wait cursor

The IT Guys (WA) repair iMac’s, Macbooks and Mac Mini’s daily that are brought to us because they have been rendered useless due to SWOD. Our Certified Apple Engineers can quickly diagnose and fix the issue by bringing your device to our workshop in Subiaco.

What causes the SWOD?

The spinning wheel (SWOD) usually appears when an Application or process has become un-responsive or frozen.

This can usually be fixed by Forcing the Application to Quit by clicking on the Apple symbol in the top left and then choosing “” or by pressing Command-Option-Escape, select the suspected unresponsive application and selecting the “Force Quit” button.


How to fix the SWOD?

  1. Restart Application – If you are lucky, the application will quit or you can use Force-Quit (see above). Once the application is  is relaunched it may have corrected itself.
  2. Uninstall and – If the Application continues to be unresponsive, uninstall and reinstall the Application to see if that fixes the issue. You can uninstall most applications by simply dragging them to the Trash.
  3. . If reinstalling the application fails to correct the problem, the only solution maybe to reinstall the entire Operating (OSx) and Applications, that is provided that the underlying cause of the problem is software and not hardware related. Make sure you make a complete Time-machine backup before attempting this.Unfortunately, only a certified Apple Technician with the correct testing tools will be able to diagnose if the problem is hardware related or not.
  4. Repair or Replace Hardware. The SWOD can be caused by failing hardware such as a faulty hard-disk-drive (HDD), (RAM) or main circuit board (motherboard), graphic card, power-board etc. etc. Only a certified Apple Technician with the correct testing tools will be able to diagnose if the problem is hardware related or not.
  5. RAM or HDD. Some memory-hungry applications need 8 or 16 GB RAM to work properly. Early model Macs only came with 2 GB or 4 GB RAM. Upgrading RAM to 8/16 GB may fix the SWOD problem. Upgrading the HDD to an SSD will increase your overall speed by up to 400%, consider an if your HDD drive is over 4 years old.ssd upgrade prices
    Macbook Air & Macbook Pro Retina SSD Upgrade prices
    Air & Retina SSD prices


  6. Check for Viruses and Malware. Yes, Macs DO get viruses. If the problems appears not to be hardware related, the problem could also be a Computer Virus or Malware. A thorough scanning and removal of suspect applications maybe a fix.
  7. Reduce the number of open Applications. Good housekeeping may . Do not have open unnecessary applications, especially if you have limited RAM. (see 6 below)
  8. Install latest . A recent OSx update may have also caused the problem, contact The IT Guys (WA) or consult the Apple support forums, they may help you realise this. You may have to wait until the problem has been rectified by Apple with the release of a new OSx patch or update.

Signs your Mac Has a corrupt OS

A very common Mac issue happens when upgrading the Apple Operating System (OSx) to a newer version such as  or Catalina. You may see the following and not be able to reach the login screen.



mac not starting up


If you see an image such as the above when starting the Apple computer and it does not progress or go away, the OSx patch or has not been successful and will need to be re installed completely.

See Also

Need more help?

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If you live in , and you need any kind of computer help, please complete the form here before bringing your device or computer to us at 315 Rokeby Road, Subiaco, Western Australia or call us out by clicking here. You can email us at or call:

08 6118 2601 

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Has one comment to “How to Fix Apple Spinning Wheel of Death (SWOD)”

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  1. William Abbott - February 24, 2018 Reply

    Hey guys,
    I really appreciate all all the good info. you provide to us tech defficient disordered people.
    I have a MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012) with:
    2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 processor
    4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 memory
    Start up disk- Hard Drive ???
    Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536 MB
    500 GB SATA Disk ( with 425.21 GB available)

    I have taken this laptop to 3 different people, and they all tell me something completely different and contradictory.
    I have read ( numerous times) the idea of replacing the (SSD) combined with a Fusion Drive.
    Does this thing have a Solid State Hard Disk Drive (SSD) combined with a a fusion-drive, or is the old school conventional stuff ???
    With the disk having so much available space, why would the (SWOD) and slow response be a symptom ?
    I went through all the steps you listed to eliminate the problem, but nothing changed.
    The only thing I have not done is a clean. The last time I downloaded a cleaner, it made things worse ( prob. with maleware) so i deleted the app.
    Could you PLEASE recommend a cleaner that does not cost a kings ransom that I could try as a last ditch effort, before having to send it in?
    I just got married and had to move to a small town in Virginia (less than 2,000 people).
    I have been doing Life Coaching for 8 years, and always lived in a suburb of a big city so I worked face to face with all my clients.
    Now that I live in the middle of nowhere – 2.5 hours to the nearest “city”
    Now my business is totally dependent on this laptop working, so any help you could offer would be GREATLY appreciated .
    Free Life Coaching for any help ???
    Thanks so much.

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