What Does My Mac Spinning Rainbow Mean?

mac spinning rainbow

Photo by Konstantin Planinski on Unsplash


How to Decide Your Next Step After You See the Mac Spinning Rainbow

Well, at least you’re not seeing the Macbook screen of death. But if you’re seeing the Mac spinning rainbow regularly, I know you’re not happy. The spinning rainbow is a sign that you’re not getting work done. And, occasionally, it means you lose unsaved work. If you’re seeing the Mac spinning rainbow wheel more than once a week, you need to get to the root of the problem before deciding what’s next.

Following are a few reasons you might be seeing the Mac spinning rainbow:

You have a cluttered hard drive

When was the last time you went through your file structure and deleted old or unnecessary files? When did you last empty your trash can? Have you checked for duplicate files and removed any?

We treat our computers as digital closets. Just as our physical closets, though, we need to cull through the material regularly to keep organized. When you can’t find an item in your closet you have to dig through baskets and drawers in a frustrating search. When your computer is attempting to complete a task in a cluttered environment, it has to do the same thing. In this case, the Mac spinning rainbow wheel is a digital “wait” sign as it works through the clutter.

If you’re sick of Mac spinning rainbow and you know you have plenty of clutter that could be causing it, our recommendation is to start cleaning with a Mac cleaning program that will automate a ton of the work. We recommend downloading Clean My Mac 3 for free and using it on a trial basis.

You are running power-hungry programs and you need more processing power

If you are the proud owner of a sleek Macbook Air, congrats! Those devices are gorgeous—and convenient to take anywhere. However, these beautiful and lightweight machines come at a price: they have less RAM. RAM (Random Access Memory) or computer memory does the work for you while you’re actively using programs or apps. While you are working with Photoshop, for example, you need sufficient computer RAM to run the program. For the sake of keeping things simple, think of RAM as short-term, active memory.

Many Mac lovers grab the Macbook Air without recognizing they need a more powerful machine to complete their work. Photographers, videographers, architects, and engineers often run huge, power-hungry programs on their computers and need machines with more power. If you’re running creative editing software or engineering modeling software and frequently noticing the Mac rainbow wheel, it may be time to upgrade to a new machine.


 You’re almost out of storage space

mac spinning rainbow wheel
Even if you have a perfectly organized file system, you may have too many files weighing down your Mac. Macs with too much stuff on them take longer to find individual items, thus resulting in the Mac spinning rainbow wheel. To check your storage space go to the apple in your menu bar and choose About This Mac. Then select Storage. Ideally, you want to have 25% or more of free space.

If you have a low amount of storage left (or no storage left!), you have a decision to make. You can first try a cleaning program to catch anything you may miss. Or, you can start moving files off of your device. We recommend considering an external hard drive for files you don’t use on a daily basis.

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