Beach Ball = Doom?

Dyuta

macrumors member
Original poster
Apr 23, 2006
47
0
I'm a bit confused on what exactly the spinning beach ball indicates.

I was under the impression that it means the system is busy... but I see it posted often here as a telltale sign or a symptom of a larger problem. If I'm mostly just running the stock programs (except low-level stuff like Adium) - certainly not anything heavy duty like the FCS that's installed but as-yet-untouched - on my 17" MBP (and the apps are Universal)... should I be getting the beach ball at all? (n.b. it only appears briefly, for a few seconds... and generally more often when launching apps than during their operation)

Should the beach ball never appear when chatting/surfing/performing basic tasks?

Apologies if this is an obvious question. It's my first Mac.
 

iMeowbot

macrumors G3
Aug 30, 2003
8,636
0
Yeah, the beachball is one of the busy cursors, sometimes you will see other variations like a watch. It's about the same idea as the Windows hourglass.

Occasionally when a program gets wedged you'll find that it never does get away from that beachball, and you're stuck having to do a forced quit. Again, it's analogous to that hourglass.

Bottom line: not a real problem unless it refuses to go away!
 

dops7107

macrumors 6502a
Mar 19, 2005
995
0
Perth, Oztrailya
I would say it is normal to beach-ball during application start up. Even during CPU-intensive tasks, like video encoding, you shouldn't see beach-balling - although other applications will be slow to respond and *may* beach ball if you try to access them. In general you see it on the few occasions where an application is waiting for a response from something else (e.g. reading from a drive that needs to spin up, or reading a font list upon first access). Basically it indicates a "stall". During routine use, emailing and internet, word-processing etc. you should never see it.

HTH
 

GimmeSlack12

macrumors 603
Apr 29, 2005
5,395
8
San Francisco
dops7107 said:
During routine use, emailing and internet, word-processing etc. you should never see it.
But understand that if you DO see it, It is not a HUGE problem. Like previously stated, if you see the beach ball for 2 minutes.... then maybe there is a problem.
 

Dyuta

macrumors member
Original poster
Apr 23, 2006
47
0
Okay... so the occasional beach ball on program launch isn't anything to concern myself over, so long as it's brief. Thanks for alleviating my paranoia, guys.
 

3kids

macrumors regular
Apr 27, 2006
176
0
I never saw the beach ball until after I installed the security update. Now the ball sometimes spins around for a LONG time.
 

motulist

macrumors 601
Dec 2, 2003
4,063
334
Seeing the beach ball too often is sometimes an indication that you need more ram.
 

dmw007

macrumors G4
May 26, 2005
10,635
0
Working for MI-6
motulist said:
Seeing the beach ball too often is sometimes an indication that you need more ram.
Yes, I believe that it can be. My iBook G4 has had a lot less "beach balls" after I doubled the RAM (from 512MB -> 1GB). :)
 

IJ Reilly

macrumors P6
Jul 16, 2002
17,892
1,466
Palookaville
The first thing you should always try if you're see a lot of beach balls is a reboot. If it doesn't go away, you've probably got other issues.
 

3kids

macrumors regular
Apr 27, 2006
176
0
motulist said:
Seeing the beach ball too often is sometimes an indication that you need more ram.
I've got 1 G on a brand new system so I don't think it is a RAM issue. I had never seen it before the security update.