Spinning Beach Ball when Pasting, Deleting, etc. (aka Slowdown in Audacity)


The following issue popped up over the last couple days when using Audacity, and I can’t figure out why:

  • When I delete audio or paste audio, it used to take a split second to perform this task.
  • About half the time now, it takes about 5-6 seconds before completing. I get the spinning beach ball during those 5-6 seconds.

Performing other tasks seems slow as of the last few days, too. For example:

  • When I stop a recording, it sometimes will continue on for 5-6 seconds. Alternately, the red recording line may linger for 5-6 seconds before it is clear that recording has stopped.
  • My chains used to be really fast on my 8-year-old MacBook – now I would estimate they take triple the amount of time to complete.

I’ve notice when I go to close Audacity, sometimes it crashes at that moment.

This is starting to slow down my overall editing time.

Some background:

  • I have a new MacBook that’s about a month old (High Sierra - 10.13.6). I’m using Audacity 2.2.2, which is obviously a fresh installation.
  • Other than chains taking a long time to process, Audacity was running more or less fine on this computer until the last few days. I have done nothing major on the computer that i can think of in that period that would explain a slowdown in Audacity.
  • I checked my Activity Monitor and there was nothing that I could see that was demanding resources to explain a slowdown in Audacity. Sometimes Safari was demanding resources so I closed it – it seemed to help temporarily, but the issue still came back and Audacity gave me the spinning beach ball on usually quick operations.

Do you have any thoughts? i’d be happy to post diagnostic information if you think it would help. Just point me to what you need.


I have a new MacBook

MacBook or MacBook Pro?
Solid State Drive or Spinning Metal?
How much memory?

When was the last time you shut down and started? Not Restart.

You get the SBBOD when the Mac takes longer than it thinks it should on a task.

What’s your chain? How long are the shows? Daily shows? Give an idea of the workload.

High Sierra is larger and busier than the older systems. I noticed a sprinkling of brief SBBODs during heavy use I never used to see. But not constant service breaks.

I did have browser problems but that’s been a while. Shut down, wait a bit and start. Do you get your Chong?


Apple is in love with their iCloud and on-line offerings and services. I have to fight them off. Is your network falling apart? You can have significant service load with network connected storage.

Do a speed check.


There is one other thing you can try. Disconnect the network and shut down wifi, bluetooth and all other network services. Restart. If the machine falls over, you may have your answer.

“Can’t find this!!”
“Can’t find that!!”
“Network Connection not Responding!!”


Hi Koz,

Much respect to you. It’s an honor to have your reply.

I will be trying the above advice today. I will reply back with any insights.

That said, I do not use iCloud, so I don’t think that is at play. But I’ll know more after digging into some of what you’re recommending.

Cheers for now, until later.

Hi Koz,

Earlier today I continued to have the slowdown issues. The overall problem worsened around Audacity 2.2.2, and I suddenly had further problems with recording, with Audacity shutting down during a recording and then Audacity getting locked up and unopenable without restarting. Eventually a recording I was working on I could not recover and I’m a bit stuck with that recording. (Let’s not talk about that. :slight_smile: ) I tried installing 2.1.3 as a second installation. That didn’t help. It was as if suddenly Audacity was rendered useless on my computer!

That said, as of this writing, for some reason things seem to be working! One thing that I am wondering is whether this issue had something to do with my external hard drive. I disconnected it and reconnected it. Things seem to be better right now (this could be temporary), and I am not sure whether the resolution of the issue is tied to reconnecting my external hard drive. I was wondering if my recordings, which are saved to an external hard drive, get the SBBOD because of a slow response by the external hard drive. I am not knowledgable about these things to know whether that is a realistic hypothesis.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, I’m answering some of your questions below. I doubt this gives you additional ideas about what I might have experienced over the last few days, but if it does, I welcome your advice. Admittedly, I am not confident that the issue is resolved, but perhaps it is. We’ll see.


My computer setup:

MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2018)
2.2 GHz Intel Core i7
16 GB 2400 MHz DDR4

Solid State Drive

I record to a 2TB external HD that has about 1.5TB of space left.

I do not use iCloud and I don’t believe I set it up on this computer.

I have done a full shut down and start up.

I am trying to figure out what you mean by “Chong.” If you meant a sound, I didn’t hear any specific sound when experiencing an error or slowdown.

Most of my recordings are 3-5 minutes, edited down to 1 minute or so. Short recordings usually. I don’t work all day on Audacity. (Recent sessions have been about an hour to two hours, bloated a little bit by these slowdown problems.)

My chain is:
Noise Reduction > Equalization > Amplify > Compressor > Normalize

When I record audiobooks it’s more involved (might be your recommended chain, Koz!), but I haven’t dealt with that chain recently.

I do not have any other issues with other apps on this computer.

I have not tried disconnecting and reconnecting WiFi yet. I will do this probably the next time I experience the issue.

I am trying to figure out what you mean by “Chong.”

When you start all but the most modern Macs, you get the classic CHONG startup tone. That’s the Mac equivalent of the Windows Power On Self Test.

Never mind. You may not have the startup chime.

I record to a 2TB external HD that has about 1.5TB of space left.

How is it connected? It’s widely assumed in the video forums that USB connected drives are terrible for live recording and production. Do live production on the internal drive and storage, data management and backups on the external drive.

The exception is FireWire and possibly Thunderbolt. I went for a very long time with everything on an external FireWire drive including boot and the operating system. Never missed a beat.


More recordings since my last post and everything seems to be fine!

I am going to guess that the issue was resolved after disconnecting my external hard drive and reconnecting it.

I haven’t had issues in using an external HD for recording with Audacity for my purposes.

How it is connected:

It is a USB HD, connected into a 4-port unpowered USB hub, that connects via Thunderbolt (aka USB Type-C) to my MacBook Pro.

It is a USB HD, connected into a 4-port unpowered USB hub, that connects via Thunderbolt (aka USB Type-C) to my MacBook Pro.

That violates many of the high speed production drive hygiene rules. If it starts happening again, that’s the first place to look.