Things I Can Do to Get Rid of the Spinning Color Wheel on My iMac

By Kara Page

Updated February 10, 2017

Problems with an iMac can also be addressed at the Genius Bar in Apple retail stores.
i Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

As far as computers and operating systems have come, there are still situations in which we find ourselves becoming frustrated by slower performance. In the case of iMacs, and apple computers operating on OSX in general, this comes in the form of the spinning color wheel, also known as the spinning sic pointer or cursor. In most cases this is a sign that the iMac is trying to perform a processor-intensive task. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to help get rid of the spinning color wheel.

Permissions Repair

Files, folders and applications all have certain permissions settings, determining whether they can be written on or read-only. From time to time, these permissions can get damaged, preventing the file or program from opening or running smoothly and creating overall computer performance issues. The best way to combat this is by doing a permissions repair using the Disk Utility program. It comes standard with all apple computers and OSX operating systems, and is typically found in the applications folder. Simply open the program, select your hard drive, and click "repair permissions."

Software Updates

Apple also recommends updating all software on a regular basis to keep your iMac functioning at its highest level. The most-important updates will include security updates, firmware and other system software. OSX is automatically set up to check for updates regularly, but you can do this manually by clicking on the apple menu in the top left of your screen, choosing "Software Update," and selecting the updates you wish to download.

Clearing Cache

Using an Internet browser is one of the most-common activities performed on Macs, so running into the spinning wheel on a regular basis while surfing the Web can be frustrating. A common way to alleviate this is to clear the browser cache. Each browser will have a different path to clearing cache. In Firefox, press "Cmd," "Shift" and "Delete" at the same time, and select how far back you wish to clear the cache. For those using Safari, press "Cmd," "option" and "E" at the same time. When the confirmation window opens, click "Empty."

RAM and Hard Disk Space

The spinning color wheel is also an indication of generally slow performance and may be a result of lack of hard disk space or RAM (random access memory). Problems are more probable when your hard disk is nearly full, but all you have to do is free up some space. If there are files and programs that are seldom-used, you may want to move them over onto an external hard drive to free the space. If you are running some memory-intensive programs, you may not have enough RAM. The best solution in these cases is to upgrade to more RAM, which can be done by taking your iMac into an Apple retail store.