For a presentation I am making, I want to find my Mac's system's default "Spinning Wait Cursor" resources.

I was told that the cursors are in here: /System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/HiServices.framework/Versions/A/Resources/cursors

and here: /System/Library/Frameworks/WebKit.framework/Versions/Current/Frameworks/WebCore.framework/Resources/

Indeed, one can find some large and vectorized versions of most cursors in the first folder, and some other, smaller ones in the second.

But, there seems to be no beach ball in there.

I know one can find the graphics in high resolution online easily, but for my project I would need to get the original system files.

A screenshot or animated screenshot also wouldn't be what I'm looking for. I couldn't find the info anywhere.

Note 1: From the GUI, a user can see the spinning wait cursor in various different sizes depending on the settings in System Preferences > Accessibility > Display > Cursor size, and then proceeding to crash their computer.

Note2: I am not trying to change my OS' appearance.

Can anyone help me find where the resource is? Is it hardcoded like the startup chime?

3 Answers 3


Cursors are rendered using CoreGraphics

The Wait Cursor or what is sometimes affectionately know as the "spinning beachball of death" is rendered in CoreGraphics (Apple's 2D rendering engine). Meaning, they are generated on the fly depending on what your preferences are set to (i.e. cursor size).

The CoreGraphics file is located at /System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/CoreGraphics.framework/Versions/A/CoreGraphics

From my research I was able to find the parameters for the Wait Cursor: $23766C - $23D66C"

As far as working with images stored in CoreGraphics, I can point you to this tutorial: Core Graphics on OS X Tutorial

Static Images of Wait Cursor

There is a directory that has static images of the cursors:


Within that directory you will find a number of TIFF files. The specific file is waitCursor.tiff

Opening the file with preview (open waitCursor.tiff) yields the following graphic (it's quite small):

enter image description here

How I located the file....

The El Capitan cusors link you provided had broken img src links, so I used the one for Yosemite for reference as they are pretty much the same. The icon you wanted is called the "Wait cursor."

So, using the find command in Terminal, I executed the following:

find /System -iname waitcursor*

The command basically says starting from the /System directory, look for all files with the name "waitCursor" in it regardless of case.

I guessed the format of the name from the file naming conventions in the directory you initially provided. For example, the "Resize Down" cursor was called "resizedown".

  • There's quite a difference between the "wait cursor.tiff" file you're linking to in the OS and the actual wait cursor (the El Capitan one has solid colors for starters, not gradients). Also, as you may know, a setting in Preferences allows to increase the size of the cursors. Including the one I'm looking for :) Jun 29, 2016 at 0:53
  • Thanks for your edit. (1) weird wait cursor (the tiff one), do you know in what situations it appears? Maybe when running "diminished" version of the OS? safe mode, diagnosis mode...?) (2) would you be able to open the CoreGraphics file and produce a screenshot of the wait cursor in your answer? Other than that I'll most probably accept it under 48 hours. Thanks! Jun 30, 2016 at 18:52
  • 1
    I have no idea where the TIFF is used; reference maybe? Also, in the directory you mentioned, there are pdfs of the icons. I am not in UX/UI so I don't know how to do this. I'll look it over the weekend, but I can't guarantee anything.
    – Allan
    Jun 30, 2016 at 19:41
  • 1
    This is not the OS X wait cursor, that is a different strange cursor from GLUT. All the other cursors have real pdf files in /System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/HIServices.framework/Versions/A/Resources/cursors. It's strange that the wait cursor is rendered differently
    – pfg
    Apr 30, 2018 at 18:22

Here's the El Capitan spinning beachball from materialup.com Spinning beachbal


On macOS Catalina, they are stored as PDF files:


Animated cursors are stored as static, vertical sprite sheets, that you need to manually convert to GIFs.

I extracted the cursors from CoreGraphics myself. You can download them here, as TIFF files.

UPDATE: I updated the Google Drive link to include all cursors in Big Sur.

Another answer here mentions /System/Library/Frameworks/GLUT.framework/Versions/A/Resource, which appears to be static images of cursors from NeXTSTEP, not macOS cursors, but close.

  • 1
    This is great thanks! I like that one is called "Poof"... but in my version of Catalina I did not find the Spinning Wait Cursor of Doom? Did you find it on yours? Mar 9, 2021 at 18:04
  • 1
    @MicroMachine The other cursors are stored in an unreadable file named CoreGraphics. You'll need a program to extract those.
    – John R.
    Mar 9, 2021 at 18:15
  • 1
    @MicroMachine I've updated my answer with a download to the images of cursors. The beachball wait cursor is listed.
    – John R.
    Mar 11, 2021 at 23:34
  • 2
    Not sure about Catalina, but on my Mavericks machine, there's a cursor called countingupandownhand (and several variations) which I've never seen before! Any idea where that's used? Mar 12, 2021 at 4:22
  • 1
    Also... wow, NeXTSTEP cursors?! Mar 12, 2021 at 4:28

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