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

  • 2
    Go GIF animation!!
    – daviesgeek
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 3:15
  • 6
    While not the official name, I've generally seen it referred to as either the "spinning gear" or "that d**n spinning gear".
    – joelseph
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 3:24

3 Answers 3


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 (non-Apple source!) 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.

  • 5
    Re the coloured pinwheel, I know it as the spinning beach ball of death :)
    – stuffe
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 8:36
  • 2
    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
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 11:33
  • 6
    I, too, also have always heard beachball (and the verb beachballing, as in "Safari is beachballing because I loaded some Flash").
    – Cajunluke
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 17:06
  • Looks like the address to the Apple Style Guide has changed. Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 16:55
  • @bmike Most interestingly, SPOD and SBOD are next to impossible to differentiate when spoken aloud. Perhaps this is the source of your apparently contradictory preferences! Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 10:56

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.

  • I love the link to the HIG documents - they seem to be more recent than the style guide (which almost predates iOS)
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 16:40

The technical term for it is a Throbber.

  • 4
    And we wonder why this name never took off? Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 16:15
  • 1
    Oh netscape - your satellite is still in orbit all these years later...
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 14:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .