Fix SPOD - How to Fix a Spinning Pinwheel of Death

Clearing Out the dyld Cache Can Prevent the SPOD

beachball from OS X El Capitan
Laptop: iStock

Once in a while, for no apparent reason, you may encounter the SPOD (Spinning Pinwheel of Death). It's that multicolored pinwheel mouse pointer that signifies a temporary delay while your Mac tries to figure something out. In this case, your Mac is trying to think but nothing happens, so the pinwheel keeps spinning, and spinning, and spinning.

Luckily, the SPOD is rarely a sign that your Mac is freezing up.

It's more likely that a single application is stalled or frozen. If that's the case, bringing another application to the front or clicking on the desktop will likely bring the Mac back under your control. You can then force quit the offending application.

There's a good chance, though, that the next time you try launching the application that caused the SPOD, you'll end up seeing the spinning pinwheel again.

Repair Permissions

One of the first things many of us will think of doing is to repair permissions to make sure the application, and any associated files it needs, have the correct permissions required to run. File permissions can get wacky once in a while; repairing permissions is a good general-purpose troubleshooting catch-all.

Repairing permissions was a good first step, provided your using OS X Yosemite or earlier. With the release of OS X El Capitan, Apple added a new feature that made manually repairing file permissions no longer necessary.

Now file permissions are automatically repaired whenever a software update occurs.

As a result, if you're using OS X El Capitan or later, you can skip repairing file permissions and move on to step two.

Dynamic Link Editor

The second thing I do is clear the dynamic link editor (dyld) cache. The dynamic link editor is a way for OS X to load and link programs to shared libraries.

If the application in question uses a shared library of routines in OS X (and most applications do indeed use shared libraries), it's the dynamic link editor's job to get the application and the shared library on speaking terms.

The dynamic link editor keeps a cache of recently used library entry points. It's this cache of data that, should it become corrupt, can cause the SPOD. I don't know what causes the cache to go bad, but the phases of the moon and unusual weather patterns are as good a reason as any. The point is that clearing the cache out will usually eliminate the SPOD.

Clearing the dyld Cache

  1. Launch Terminal, located at /Applications/Utilities/.
  2. At the Terminal prompt, enter the following command. Please note this is a single line; some browsers may show this command spanning multiple lines.
    sudo update_dyld_shared_cache -force
  3. Press enter or return.
  4. You will be asked for an administrator account password.
  5. Once the password is accepted, Terminal may display some warning messages about mismatches in the dlyd cache. Don't worry; these are warnings about the content that is being cleared out and then updated by the command.

Clearing the dyld cache can take a few moments. Once it's complete, the normal Terminal prompt will return.

You should now be able to use that application without encountering the SPOD.

More From Us