You usually have no problem waiting in line to get services. But when it comes to using your Macbook Pro, it may be another story.
For me, I hated it when the applications I use became unresponsive, not to mention that when the entire system froze up. Although I was told that patience is a virtue, somehow I just can’t bear with it with my beloved MacBook.
How about you? Does your MacBook Pro sometimes run slow or freeze for no reason? Or the spinning beach ball often appears? If this has happened to you, be aware that your Mac may have some issues. But, there are always fixes out there.
I’ve grouped all MacBook freezing issues into
three different scenarios (now four, thanks to our reader Carol’s feedback). Find the one that applies to your situation and hopefully the guide will help you resolve the problem.
Scenario 1: An application is frozen on MacBook (you can still move your cursor)
More details: this kind of application usually demands a lot of system resources to process. For example, Adobe Photoshop, iMovie, or even FireFox browser. When you request a few clicks at the same time, the app just hangs with the cursor spinning like a pinwheel. The program refuses to take any input or respond to any commands.
Reasons: the application may be waiting for other hardware resource to become available, or the software may have a bug that drops itself into a calculation loop.
- If you haven’t saved your work, wait for a few minutes. It may become responsive again (hopefully).
- Otherwise, simply force quit the app. To do so, go to the Apple logo on the top left corner, click on it and select the “Force Quit” option. (You can also press “Command + Option + Esc” — it does the same thing.) Now highlight the unresponsive app, and click “Force Quit” to exit.
Here is an intuitive YouTube video that shows you how:
Warning: a force quit on a running Mac application can cause you to lose any content that hasn’t been saved. Be cautious before you take this action.
Scenario 2: The entire macOS totally freezes (you can’t move cursor)
More details: the whole system becomes completely unresponsive to anything you’re trying to accomplish. You are unable to use the keyboard to type, the mouse cursor is unable to move as you want, the same screen seems just hang there for good. Sometimes you also hear the loud noise coming from the fan.
Reasons: It happens on rare occasions, but the issue could result from an overused system resources, MacBook Pro uptime too long, hard disk errors, etc.
- You’ll have to do a hard reboot. Press the power button for 3-5 seconds to force a shut-down of the computer. Press it again to restart.
- Clean up your MacBook hard drive and fix potential disk errors — you can do this quickly using CleanMyMac 3 (or Dr. Cleaner).
Note: if this happens while you’re updating to latest macOS High Sierra, for example, the progress bar keeps hanging at 99% (or only one minute remaining), you’ll have to quit the update. The solution is: first upgrade your MacBook to macOS Sierra 10.12.6, then perform the High Sierra update.
Scenario 3: MacBook keeps freezing randomly
Details: Your Mac just freezes without any sign and it happens every few hours or days. One second your MacBook is working perfectly fine, the other second everything just hangs up — the cursor won’t move. If you were watching a video, horizontal lines cut through the screen. It seems the only solution to make it work again is to hold the power button to reboot.
Reasons: mostly like it’s related to hardware — for example, you just installed extra RAM improperly or the System Management Controller (SMC) has some issues.
- Reset SMC and RVRAM. Learn how to do so from this MacWorld tutorial.
- If the random freezing still happens, take your MacBook Pro to a Apple Genius Bar or a local computer shop and have a geek run hardware diagnostics. Then fix the issues based on his/her suggestions.
Scenario 4: Mac cursor freezes while opening Photos, Time Machine, Photoshop, etc.
Details: Your Mac cursor would freeze (for anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 mins) when you launch apps like Photos, Time Machine, Adobe Photoshop or Reader.
Reasons: You’ve enlarged the Mac cursor.
Fix solutions: Adjust cursor size to normal.
- Click on the Apple logo on top left, select “System Preferences.”
- Then click “Accessibility” > “Display.”
- You’ll see a window (as shown above), navigate the cursor size bar and adjust it to normal size.
Due to the complex nature of computer issues, sometimes it’s inevitable that you may encounter other scenarios not introduced here. I’d appreciate it if you can kindly share your stories here.
Anyway, I hope this troubleshooting article has helped you unfreeze your Mac, and that the rotating beach ball won’t come back.
This post was last updated on Nov. 8. 2017.