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OS X "beachball" interrupt?
May 11, 2004 6:46 PM   Subscribe

Duh question: On OSX is there any neat way of interrupting that annoying, multicoloured spinning fan that tells you it's still trying to load a page, short of just rebooting? You know, to tell your computer you're no longer interested and would prefer to move on. Many thanks for any tips!
posted by MiguelCardoso to Computers & Internet (26 answers total)
 
Could you use the "force quit" option?
posted by herc at 6:53 PM on May 11, 2004


Click outside of your browser to make another application (e.g., Finder) active. Go to the Apple menu. Select "Force Quit." Choose the recalcitrant application.

Or, go to the dock, click and hold on the icon of the application in question. If it's misbehaving, it should say "application not responding" and (I think) offer you the option to force quit.
posted by stonerose at 6:54 PM on May 11, 2004


Command-Period is the designated cancel key, and if that doesn't work, Command-Option-Escape will bring up the Force Quit dialog and allow you to terminate an application that has stopped responding.
posted by kindall at 6:55 PM on May 11, 2004


I frequently have trouble getting the force-quit to actually work, even by key command. I can recall about 1 occasion where it actually got me back to a workable state from interminable hang. Despite the "rock solid BSD" hype, I still have to reboot a few times a week.
posted by scarabic at 6:58 PM on May 11, 2004


My gf's Mac had a problem with the spinning colored disc showing up waaay too often, for waaaaay too long. If you're running OS X with 128MB RAM or less, try upgrading. I got her a 512MB RAM stick (under 100$ US, with shipping), and now it runs like a breeze.
posted by skwm at 7:02 PM on May 11, 2004


You could try deleting your browser's cache and history from the appropriate directory under ~/Library. That might help avoid future hang-ups. I don't know what browser you're using, but Safari's not the most stable application....
posted by hyperizer at 7:06 PM on May 11, 2004


what skwm said. get more RAM
posted by matteo at 7:12 PM on May 11, 2004


I got her a 512MB RAM stick (under 100$ US, with shipping)

Do you mind telling us where? I run an 800 Mhz iMac G4 15 inch, and I can't find 512 MB for less than $150, which is why I'm suffering with 256.

Virtual PC is an absolute BITCH with 256
posted by BlueTrain at 7:22 PM on May 11, 2004


Thanks a lot. So quick! I do use Safari. But I already have 512MB RAM and "force quit", all the times I've tried, doesn't do anything. But I'll definitely try it more often now.

I'm going to try deleting my browser cache, as suggested by hyperizer. Then I'll go back to MeFi Search - which is the main culprit for the spinning wheel blues - and report back.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:28 PM on May 11, 2004


The even more geekly way to kill the frozen process it is to use ssh to connect to your computer with the frozen spinning ball from a second computer (what do you mean you don't have several networked computers available to you at all times?) and kill the process. This approach requires a little unix know-how and having had the foresight to turn on remote login in the sharing panel (ssh is fairly secure if you are current on your security updates). Once or twice I have got to a state where even this doesn't work, but most of the time it will get you past the missing force quit option.

As for RAM prices, I have always had good luck with DMS. I think this is the memory Blue Train is looking for, currently $125.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 7:58 PM on May 11, 2004


I'm surprised to see it so cheap. Thanks.
posted by BlueTrain at 8:09 PM on May 11, 2004


If Safari throws up the pizza (technical term for the spinning widget) right after loading a Web page, you may have accumulated a lot of favicons and/or cache field values. Too many of those and Safari will slow right the hell down. The favicon cache is in ~/Library/Safari, as is the Form Values file. Delete these two items and that should resolve the occasional Safari lockups. (I actually write-protected my favicon folder so Safari can't add any more. This seems to have solved the problem permanently.)

I frequently have trouble getting the force-quit to actually work, even by key command. ... I still have to reboot a few times a week.

I also occasionally have lockups where I can't get to Force Quit. However, if I wait them out, control usually comes back in 10-15 minutes. There's something wonky in the current VM implementation that causes it to thrash for a while at certain points. This tendency can be somewhat reduced with a little under-the-hood tweaking of the vnode settings.
posted by kindall at 8:13 PM on May 11, 2004


If Safari throws up the pizza (technical term for the spinning widget

Hmmm. Does that mean the "beach ball of death" was a coining from the NeXT-ish culture?

The even more geekly way to kill the frozen process it is to use ssh to connect to your computer with the frozen spinning ball from a second computer

Actually, assuming your current computer is not frozen (and if we're talking about typical Safari chugging here, other applications will be available to you sans beach ball), you can open a terminal window to your own computer, and kill the offending process via issuing a little "kill -9 " shell-fu.

Process IDs are available using one of those utilities -- I beleive it's called the Process Viewer -- underneath the Applications Folder. Actually, I think you can even use that to kill a rogue process.

posted by weston at 8:25 PM on May 11, 2004


you can open a terminal

Yes, I carelessly skipped right over that one. Definitely simpler if the dock is still responding, though, if it isn't, the remote login may still work.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 8:36 PM on May 11, 2004


Try Kindall's trick. I picked up a tip on osxhints.com to create a cron job to do this for me (I use cronnix to set it up). The command is find $HOME/Library/Safari/Icons -type f -atime +30 -name "*.cache" -delete
posted by adamrice at 8:54 PM on May 11, 2004


(I actually write-protected my favicon folder so Safari can't add any more. This seems to have solved the problem permanently.)

Try Kindall's trick.

What exactly does this do? I mean, what are favicons and why might i want them? does this "trick" have any negative side affects?
posted by rorycberger at 9:05 PM on May 11, 2004


For Ram check out dealram.com.

Regular system maintenance can be done with software like YASU or Cocktail at versiontracker.com
posted by filmgeek at 9:33 PM on May 11, 2004


what are favicons and why might i want them?

The customized Address Bar graphics provided by some sites. Directly to the left of the URL you should be able to see MeFi's right now. They're just an extra bit of branding. If you don't need the visual reminder, blocking or deleting them shouldn't hurt anything. I use the crontab technique mentioned by adamrice; no problems and Safari crashes have been noticeably reduced.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:42 PM on May 11, 2004


If you lock the Icons folder, BTW, it still shows you the icons, it just doesn't save them in the disk cache. I'm pretty sure it still caches them in RAM, though -- haven't noticed a bunch of broken favicon.ico requests on my logs lately.

Does that mean the "beach ball of death" was a coining from the NeXT-ish culture?

Well, the Mac cognoscenti call it the "spinning pizza of death" because it doesn't look like a beach ball anymore. Actually, the cursor is similar to the one the NeXT uses when accessing the optical drive, IIRC.
posted by kindall at 10:54 PM on May 11, 2004


I've been a loyal omniweb user since before safari existed. It will eventually crash on me after a few days of steady use (usually crashes come after it chokes on some dodgy flash or java), but comes right back up happily afterwards. I'm still using 4.5, since the beta for 5 had some really annoying problems, but I'm pretty happy with it. I do use safari too, for some sites that omniweb doesn't like, but haven't seen any of the problems described.
posted by ursus_comiter at 11:38 PM on May 11, 2004


I thought Macs didn't crash? *ducks*
posted by dg at 12:12 AM on May 12, 2004


I bought my memory from 18004memory.com. It's slightly more expensive now, but still well under 150$:
512 MEG APPLE POWERMAC G4 PC133 VERSION, 105$
posted by skwm at 8:41 AM on May 12, 2004


"escape pod" from the makers of "wiretap" is free and will supposedly do this. I usually kill the process from the terminal.

Ambrosia software, I believe.
posted by mecran01 at 9:38 AM on May 12, 2004


I thought Macs didn't crash?

Just as with any Unix system, a flawed driver or kernel extension is about the only thing that can bring down the whole system. Individual applications can of course crash whenever they want, but typically don't take the whole system down with them. This is pretty much the same as Windows NT-based OSs (e.g. Win2K, WinXP).

It was much worse in the old Mac OS, which didn't have any way at all of keeping applications from hogging the whole processor or from stomping on each others' memory. Since Mac programmers are a conscientious lot this actually worked pretty well (of course, they're a conscientious lot because users won't tolerate software that brings down their whole machine), but I'm amazed it lasted as long as it did.
posted by kindall at 10:11 AM on May 12, 2004


Miguel-

Force Quit sometimes requires a couple attempts for a particularly-stuck process. In addition, run Activity Monitor. In addition to getting a handy CPU monitor in your dock, it gives you a GUI with running processes and the ability to (Force) Quit anything.
posted by mkultra at 11:17 AM on May 12, 2004


Derail: anyone manage to insert a self-designed favicon into a blogger template?
posted by dash_slot- at 3:07 PM on May 12, 2004


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