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. So 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 the 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 upper-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 program, 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 Mac Application 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 application on Mac OS X:

  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

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.

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.

The procedure to force quit a frozen application is pretty much the same on any device running macOS. Be it a MacBook or an iMac or a Mac mini. The easiest way is to locate the frozen app in the Dock, hold the option key and right-click on the app icon, and then choose the Force Quit from the available options.

In order to force close a MacBook application, follow these steps:

  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-shutting your Mac should only be used as a last resort. You may lose unsaved progress in open documents, and your operating system may suffer from corruption.

Here are the three different ways to Force shut down an unresponsive Mac:

  1. Hold the Power button, be it on your MacBook or iMac until the screen goes black.
  2. Try holding "Control + Option + Cmd + Power" which will first try to safely close apps. If that doesn't work, try Control + Cmd + Power to force shut Mac.
  3. The final option is to completely drain the battery which, as you would imagine, is an absolute last resort.
Was this article helpful?