Force to quit frozen apps on Mac

Terminate the frozen and unresponsinve applications on Mac

Apple computers are a leader in terms of computer performance and stability. Your MacBook or iMac will usually operate for long periods of time without glitches or problems, however, Apple cannot control every aspect of their products. Some third-party applications might contain optimization and resource usage faults causing frozen apps or, in some rare cases, a freeze of the entire Mac system. Most Mac users will have experienced the spinning beach ball on their screens for at least a second, but this is clearly much more frustrating when the ball does not stop spinning and the application freezes and becomes unresponsive.

A more frustrating situation occurs when the entire computer becomes unresponsive, leaving the spinning beach ball displayed. Fortunately, Apple developers have implemented several different methods to 'kill' problematic applications. You can choose a keyboard shortcut, Activity Monitor, Terminal, or right-click on the Dock icon. All of these methods will force quit an application, rescuing your Mac from an inactive state. In this article, we cover all methods to close unresponsive applications and they work on all versions of the Mac operating system.


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Force to quit specific app through Dock icon

Start with the easiest method. Enter the menu by right-clicking on the icon to reveal the Quit option. This option will first attempt to stop the process and only then will close it. When an application is unresponsive, this method will not work. Therefore, you must hold down the Option key on your keyboard when right-clicking to enter the hidden menu. You will then find the Force Quit option. Choosing this option instructs the operating system to stop processes related to the specific application, without waiting until the application is inactive.


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Force to close a specific application via Apple Menu

This method is similar to closing via Dock, but if you have enabled the hide option, the Dock may not appear due to the frozen application (the menu bar is on top and conceals it). To access the force quit option, hold down the Shift key, click on the Apple logo in the menu bar at top of your screen, and select the Force Quit option displayed together with the active application name.


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Use keyboard shortcut to enter Force quit menu

This method is useful, since you do not need to navigate to a certain feature or click anywhere. You simply need to remember an easy keyboard shortcut. Press the Command, Option, and Escape keys together to access the Force quit applications window. You can then select the frozen application and stop it by clicking Force quit. Furthermore, you do not need to re-open the window if you wish to close another application - this window essentially works like a small part of the Activity Monitor app with the close function only. Accessing the Force Quit menu returns Macs to responsive states.


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Use keyboard shortcut to close specific app

A combination of keys can also be used to quit active applications. This is similar to the shortcut that opens the Force quit menu (above), and it is very easy to remember both shortcuts. Even if you are unable to use your mouse, this shortcut will close an active application. To close an active application using a keyboard shortcut, simply press the following keys together: Command, Option, Shift, and Escape.

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Force to quit apps via Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor contains a variety of useful functions, such as monitoring current Mac resource usage and list all running applications and processes (together with information, such as process IDs and user accounts that are running the processes). Activity Monitor also offers the option to quit an application or force quit any running process. Additionally, unresponsive applications are usually is displayed in red within Activity Monitor - in this way, you can use it to determine if a specific application is frozen. This is one of the most effective methods to close unresponsive applications or processes (such as frozen tabs on a web browser).


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Launch Terminal to immediately close an application

The Terminal application is a built-in command line application and very effective to close applications, however, it does require some commands that may seem confusing to inexperienced Mac users. To close applications, you will need to use a low-level kill command. To start, launch Terminal by using Spotlight. Simply press the keyboard shortcut of Command and Spacebar, then type in Terminal and press Return. Alternatively, open Finder and go to Applications, then select Utilities and launch the Terminal application. When the command line window appears, type the following command and press Return to execute it.

  • killall AppName

Replace the 'AppName' with the name of the application you wish to close, for example:

  • killall Safari


Video Showing how to force quit applications on Mac

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an editor for since 2010. Follow me on Twitter to stay informed about the latest tech news or online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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