How to Force Quit on Mac: 5 Easy Ways to Force Quit Mac Apps

Easily force quit the frozen application on Mac

by: - Last updated on: September 14th, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • Even though Macs don’t often run into issues, there are scenarios when they succumb to one or more system issues.
  • An unresponsive (or misbehaving) app is one such issue that can affect your Mac and cripple your workflow and progress during a session.
  • Force quitting apps is the most effective way to close these unresponsive apps and reinstate your Mac’s functionality.

Macs seldom run into a lot of issues. However, there are some exceptions, which can cripple your workflow and progress during a session.

A frozen or misbehaving app is one of such exceptions that can sometimes render your Mac unusable. And although you can try to close this unresponsive app normally by clicking the close button, it’s unlikely to work most of the time.

force quit on Mac

Those familiar with Windows operating system would be very familiar with the keyboard shortcut “Ctrl+Alt+Del” to invoke the Task Manager and ‘kill’ the misbehaving application. What’s the Mac alternative to “Ctrl+Alt+Del” that helps you force quit an app? We tell you five ways to force quit on Mac that you can use to close unresponsive apps and reinstate your Mac’s functionality.

1. Force Quit an App on Mac From Dock

One of the easiest ways to force quit Mac apps is to use the Dock. The following steps demonstrate how to do this:

  1. Locate the frozen app that you want to force quit in the Dock.
  2. Hold the Option key and right-click on this app’s icon.
  3. Choose Force Quit from the available options.
    force quit Mac apps from Dock

2. Force Quit a Mac App From Menu Bar

It might not be apparent to many users, but Apple includes a Force Quit option in its menu, which lets you quickly force quit a Mac app without having to move your mouse much.

Follow the steps below to force quit on Mac from the Apple Menu:

  1. Click the Apple icon () in the menu bar on the top-left corner of the screen.
  2. Select the unresponsive app in the Force Quit Applications menu and click the Force Quit button.
    force quit Mac apps using Apple menu bar

If you bring up the Force Quit Applications menu while you’re on the frozen app, it’ll already have the app preselected, and you can simply click the Force Quit button to close it.

3. Force Quit Mac Apps With Activity Monitor

If for some reason, the above two methods fail, you can use Activity Monitor to force quit the unresponsive app. Use the steps below to force quit a Mac app using Activity Monitor:

  1. Open Activity Monitor. [Pull up Spotlight Search (Command+Space) and search Activity Monitor. Alternatively, open Launchpad, go into the Other folder, and run Activity Monitor from there.]
  2. Click on the Process Name heading to view active processes alphabetically.
    force quit Mac apps using activity monitor
  3. Locate the frozen app on this application list and click on the (x) button.
  4. When prompted for confirmation, click on Force Quit.

4. Force Quit a Mac App Using Terminal

If you prefer working with a CLI over GUI, you can use the Terminal app to force quit apps on Mac. The Terminal is a powerful Mac application that allows you to access and control various macOS components and services using commands.

Follow the steps below to use it to force quit a Mac app:

  1. Open Activity Monitor.
  2. Tap on the Process Name heading to arrange active processes alphabetically.
  3. Find the frozen app from this list of apps and note down its PID (process identifier) under the PID column.
  4. Launch Terminal. [Open Spotlight Search and search Terminal. Alternatively, open Finder, select Applications under Favorites, click on Utilities, and double-click on Terminal.]
  5. Enter the following command and hit the Return key:sudo kill enter_PID_hereEg:sudo kill 477

5. Force Quit Mac Apps With Keyboard Shortcut

While the methods listed so far help you force quit unresponsive or frozen apps on your Mac, they all involve using the mouse/trackpad. But, if your misbehaving app has completely frozen your Mac—to the point where you can’t move the pointer—your only resort to close it is to use your keyboard.

To this end, Apple’s got you covered with its predefined keyboard shortcut for the Force Quit Applications functionality. It’s the same functionality that we used in the second method, except that, this time, we’ll trigger it with a keyboard shortcut.

Here are the steps to force quit a frozen app using the keyboard shortcut:

  1. Press the Command+Option+Esc key combination.
    force quit Mac apps using keyboard shortcut
  2. Select the frozen app in the Force Quit Applications window and click the Force Quit button.

Force Quit an Unresponsive App to Resume Mac Operations

In most cases, you can force quit unresponsive apps on your Mac with any of the methods above and restore its functionality to resume working.

However, if none of these work or you’re unable to perform any of these operations, you can force a shutdown by pressing and holding the power button the Mac shuts down.

FAQs About Force Quitting on Mac

1. How do you unfreeze a Mac? Or How do I fix an unresponsive Mac?

Macs tend to freeze either when you have too many apps running in the background—more than your Mac’s RAM can handle—or when a background app or process freezes/stops responding. So, the most obvious solution to fix this and unfreeze your Mac, in either case, is to force quit the unresponsive app or process and clear it out of memory.

Depending on your preference, follow any of the five methods listed above to force quit the unresponsive applications or processes and fix your unresponsive Mac.

2. What if force quit doesn’t work?

Although force quitting works pretty well, and you’ll always have at least one of the five force-quit methods listed above get the job done, in the event that none of them work, you can force a shutdown. To do this, simply press and hold the power button until your Mac shuts down completely. Wait for some time, and then start it again.

3. Is it bad to force quit on Mac? Or are there any drawbacks to force quit on Mac?

Forcing your Mac to quit the unresponsive apps or processes is an effective—and probably the only way, except a force shutdown—to deal with frozen apps. And when you do this, what you’re essentially asking the system to do is clear out the frozen apps from the RAM to free it up along with other resources.

So, technically, there’s not much that can go wrong when you force quit on Mac, except for losing the current app state and the data you were working with on that app before it froze.

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