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Is there an accepted name for the spinning animation that's displayed when one needs to wait for an indefinite amount of time? It looks like this:

enter image description here

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2  
Go GIF animation!! –  daviesgeek Sep 8 '11 at 3:15
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While not the official name, I've generally seen it referred to as either the "spinning gear" or "that d**n spinning gear". –  joelseph Sep 8 '11 at 3:24
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3 Answers 3

up vote 24 down vote accepted

The canonical name is the "asynchronous progress indicator" but in most user documentation it is described as "a progress indicator (that looks like a spinning gear)". The Apple Publications Style Guide is a nice reference for learning what Apple considers the correct terms for writing about these details correctly.

The four specific types of generic progress indicators that Apple provides to developers are:

  • asynchronous progress indicator (spinning gear)
  • determinate progress bar (moving bar)
  • indeterminate progress bar (spinning striped cylinder)
  • spinning wait cursor (colored pinwheel)

I'm writing a short postscript since many confuse the spinning gear with the colored pinwheel:

The colored pinwheel is colloquially known as the spinning pizza of death or SPOD cursor due to user frustration when it appears to signal a hung process. It is the worst indicator for the user to see since it means the programmer either didn't or couldn't keep the main program responsive. We as users have no clue what part of the program is waiting for something to progress, only that it's stuck.

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5  
Re the coloured pinwheel, I know it as the spinning beach ball of death :) –  stuffe Sep 8 '11 at 8:36
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Oddly, I refer to it as "beach ball" or SPOD which causes some to wonder how I can prefer beach ball in long form, but abbreviate that with a P in the short form. Both terms have clearly become habit. –  bmike Sep 8 '11 at 11:33
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I, too, also have always heard beachball (and the verb beachballing, as in "Safari is beachballing because I loaded some Flash"). –  CajunLuke Sep 8 '11 at 17:06
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The technical term for it is a Throbber.

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3  
And we wonder why this name never took off? –  Jason Salaz Sep 8 '11 at 16:15
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Oh netscape - your satellite is still in orbit all these years later... –  bmike Sep 9 '11 at 14:27
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It is called the "Asynchronous Progress Indicator". You can read more about it, and other elements of Mac OS X, in their OS X HIG Guidelines.

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I love the link to the HIG documents - they seem to be more recent than the style guide (which almost predates iOS) –  bmike Sep 8 '11 at 16:40
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