Users offer suggestions for resolving installation freeze afflicting numerous Mac users.

Paul McDougall, Editor At Large, InformationWeek

September 3, 2009

3 Min Read

Following reports that some Snow Leopard users are experience a system freeze known as "the spinning wheel of death" when they try to upgrade to Apple's new operating system, posters on the company's Internet support forum offered a number of possible fix for the glitch.

Most involve restarting upgraded Macs from the Snow Leopard boot disc while holding the C key, or some variation thereof.

"I got the spinning wheel of death" following a nine-hour installation attempt, wrote forum member DrewPalmer. Upon calling Apple support, he was told to restart his Mac with the Snow Leopard disc in SuperDrive, shut down his machine using the power switch, and then restart it while depressing the C key.

DrewPalmer said Apple's rep told him he should again shut down his Mac, and reinstall Snow Leopard from the disc. "It worked, and everything seems flawless now," he wrote.

Another user, R-C-R, suggested pressing and holding the C key upon hearing the startup chime "until the gray startup screen disappears."

Forum member wilsonfotografie discovered a similar workaround. "I powered on, then pressed the C key, waited till the Apple logo showed up and let go," he wrote. "I still got the wheel of death—but—while reading the forums a couple of minutes passed and it finally booted from the disc," the user wrote on the support forum.

Numerous Mac users complained over the past week that upgrading their systems to OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, caused a boot failure that results in an endless display of a rotating icon known colloquially as "the spinning wheel of death." As of Thursday, Apple's support forum was littered with posts from customers whose attempts to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.6 prompted the error.

Apple acknowledged a problem in certain circumstances and offered the following fix.

"Your Mac may start up to a gray screen after upgrading from Mac OS X v10.5 to Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard. This may occur if a previous Mac OS X v10.5 software update had been downloaded using Software Update, but not completely installed, before installing Snow Leopard," Apple said in a support bulletin.

Snow Leopard, which debuted August 28, introduces a number of new features to the Mac operating environment.

A new multithreading technology called Grand Central Dispatch may prove popular with gamers, creative professionals, and other users that require maximum horsepower for graphics processing and other CPU-intensive tasks. GCD enables applications to make full use of today's multi-core chips.

The new OS also offers 64-bit versions of Finder, Mail, iCal, iChat, and Apple's Safari Internet browser.

Installation issues aren't the only problem afflicting Snow Leopard. Reports indicate it includes an outdated version of Flash that represents a security risk.

And currently the OS suffers from more than 100 incompatible Mac applications, according to a Web site that tracks compatibility.

For Further Reading:

Complete Snow Leopard Coverage

About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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