Force Quit an Application – Mac

The best operating systems can have problems. Sometimes, your apps may freeze, leaving you frustrated as your apps don’t respond to any commands.

Macs and OS X have always had an “it just works” reputation. They’re easy to use, require little maintenance, and are great for people who don’t want to have to constantly troubleshoot issues with their computer but even have some problems.

hen this happens, standard methods of quitting an app may no longer work, and you may feel that a forced reboot is necessary in order to close or reset that frozen app. But if it’s just a particular app that is frozen, and OS X remains responsive behind the unresponsive app, you may want to try to force quit the misbehaving app.


Method #1: Using the Apple Menu

  1. Open the Apple menu. It’s the black Apple on icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  2. Click on Force Quit… toward the middle of the menu.
  3. Click on the app you want to quit. The note “(Not Responding)” will appear next to frozen apps.
  4. Click on Force Quit. The app will quit and can be restarted.
  5. If your computer is frozen, you may need to restart it.

Method #2: Force Quit with Mac Shortcut

To do the same thing but faster, use Mac shortcut keys to close frozen applications.

  1. On your keyboard, press and hold Command + Option + Esc. It will immediately bring up a “Force Quit Application” window.
  2. Select the frozen application from the dialogue box and select “Force Quit.

This could be your go-to method if the mouse or trackpad is lagging.

Method #3: Using the Dock

Normally, when you right-click on a running application in the OS X Dock, you see an option to “Quit.” However, this usually doesn’t work with a frozen app. To force quit an app from the dock, hold the Option key on your keyboard while you right-click on the frozen app’s icon and you’ll see that “Quit” is now “Force Quit.” Click it to force quit the app.

It’s important to note that there’s no warning when you force quit an app. You won’t be greeted with the usual “save before quitting” prompts before the app shuts down. If you accidentally force quit an app you’re working in, you’ll lose any unsaved data or changes. So, before doing this, be sure that you are closing the correct app and that you won’t lose any important data.

Method #4: Close app from Activity Monitor

macOS provides an almost identical alternative to the traditional PC Control+Alt+Delete shortcut—and does it better. Yes, we all know that in Windows that keyboard shortcut is often used to open the Task Manager window. From Task Manager, you can track applications, services, performance, and processes, and kill some of them when they’re unresponsive.

You can easily do all of that and more on the macOS native application called Activity Monitor. To kill an application using Activity Monitor, do the following.

  1. On your keyboard, press Command + Space, or click on Spotlight in the top-right corner of the screen.
  2. In the “Spotlight Search” window, start typing “Activity Monitor
  3. Once Activity Monitor is highlighted, hit Enter.
  4. In the Activity Monitor processes list, select the application you want to quit and click “Force a process to quit” in the left corner.

Method #5: Using Terminal

If all else fails, using the command line is a surefire way to force an app or process to quit by issuing the low-level kill command.

The kill commands will take out just about anything, and sometimes have the side effect of not honoring Versions, Window Restore, and Auto-Save, so be cautious of potential data loss.

To use this method, you’ll need to determine the app’s Process ID (PID), a numeric value that OS X uses to keep track of each unique application. You can use the ‘top’ command to generate a list of running processes right in Terminal. 

  1. On your keyboard, press Command + Space, or click on Spotlight in the top-right corner of the screen.
  2. In the “Spotlight Search” window, start typing “Terminal
  3. Once Terminal is highlighted, hit Enter and type the following command:
  4. top -o cpu

A list of all running applications and processes will appear in Terminal, ordered by current CPU usage. To the left of the app’s name, you’ll find the PID. with numbers 1234.

With the process ID now identified, press Q to quit top, or open a new Terminal session, and type the following to force quit the app:

kill [PID]

Press Return to execute the command and your app will be force quit.

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