How To's

Why does my Mac keep freezing? 

May 21, 2021

How to Fix a Frozen Mac

We love Macs because of their reliability and performance. However, they aren’t immune from problems including freeze-ups. In rare occurrences your Mac’s screen will be completely frozen and you won’t even be able to move your mouse cursor. 

More commonly you can encounter the spinning ball cursor or SBBOD (Spinning Beach Ball of Death). This allows you to move your cursor but you are usually not able to interact with your Mac. 

So what can you do if either of these situations happens to you? In this post we will look at a few potential solutions if your Mac or MacBook freezes.

Common Culprit - Viruses and Malware 

Viruses and other malware can cause your Mac to freeze. You can install the antivirus software of your choice on your Mac to help prevent viruses and to run a virus scan if you are frequently facing freezing issues on your Mac.

Worst case scenario your Mac is infected with malware or you have a serious hardware problem. If you suspect this is the case, make an appointment at your local Digitiqe location and we can diagnose and fix your Mac.

How to Unfreeze Your Mac

Here are some things to try when your Mac hangs. 

Force Quit Apps

Use the keyboard shortcut Cmd + Opt + Esc to open the Force Quit Applications tool on your Mac. Choose the application that is frozen and click the Force Quit button. Confirm the command by clicking Force Quit again in the popup.


As technology experts we always recommend the tried and tested “turn it off and turn it back on” technique. A quick reboot will often fix your freezing problem. Sometimes, a reboot isn’t possible depending on how frozen your Mac is. If possible, click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen. Click Restart. Ensure that the option Reopen windows when logging back in is unticked. Click Restart

Power Down 

If at all possible, do not forcefully turn your Mac off. If your mac is completely frozen and you cannot access any menus to perform a reboot, you may be forced to power your Mac down. 

To turn off your Mac press and hold the Power button and wait until your Mac shuts down. Give your Mac a few seconds before turning it back on.

Quit Background Processes 

Quitting apps that are utilizing a large amount of processing power can help to stop your Mac from freezing. You can do this within your Activity Monitor utility. 

On your Mac go to Applications > Utilities and start Activity Monitor

Identify apps that are using a high CPU percentage. If you see anything, double-click it and click the Quit button. If that doesn’t work, repeat these steps but choose Force Quit. 

Remove Problem Apps

It is possible that a poorly made app could be causing the issues on your Mac. If that’s the case, the easiest thing to do is to remove the app. Usually the issue is with recently installed apps.

To remove an app open your Applications folder and sort applications by Date Added.

Identity new apps that may be causing issues and right click on the application and then select Move to Bin. You can also drag and drop the app into your trash bin on your Mac. 

Disk Health

Freezing issues can also be caused by a failing hard disk or SSD. A less catastrophic form of data corruption can be fixed. In either case, a good place to start is your Mac’s Disk Utility.

Go to Applications > Utilities and start the Disk Utility 

Click First Aid and then click Run. Click Continue and wait while Disk Utility scans your disk. If it finds any problems it will let you know. 

Restart Your Mac’s NVRAM and Reset SMC*

*This only applies to Intel Macs 

Resetting your Mac’s NVRAM can fix a lot of issues with your Mac. To reset, first, restart your Mac. Press and hold Cmd + Opt + P + R until the grey screen appears. Hold down these keys until your Mac restarts and you hear the startup chime for the second time. Release all the keys. 

Resetting the SMC (System Management Controller) can also potentially help with issues on your Mac. 

To reset, shut down your Mac. Disconnect everything other than the power. Press Shift + Ctrl + Opt and the Power Button at the same time. Hold for 10 seconds. 

Release all the keys at the same time. Turn your Mac back on. 

Still Having Issues with Your Mac Freezing?

Hopefully one of these solutions will unfreeze your Mac and prevent freezing in the future. However, if you continue to have issues then you may have a more serious problem. If you would like to consult with one of our Mac repair experts, then visit your local Digitiqe location. We now have storefronts in Denver, Fort Collins, Boulder, and Breckenridge. 

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