No matter what hardware your Windows PC is running, it will, at some point, succumb to an unresponsive program that refuses to quit. When this happens, the frozen program displays Not Responding in the title bar, and hitting the close (X) button doesn’t close the app.

force quit windows apps

While there’s no definitive reason why this happens, an app is believed to throw such an occur when it receives more requests than it can process at a time.

Fortunately, there are different ways to force quit on Windows that allow you to close unresponsive programs on your PC. Here’s a guide detailing all the different ways to force quit Windows apps.

Before Force Quitting the Unresponsive App

If hitting the close (X) button isn’t closing the frozen application, you can try quitting it using the Alt + F4 shortcut. It’s essentially the same as closing the app via the close button, except that it’s effective in situations when the unresponsive app freezes your mouse.

To use this shortcut, make sure it’s the frozen app that’s active on the desktop and press Alt + F4. In some cases, this should close the app but if it doesn’t help, try force-closing programs using the following methods.

1. Force Quit Windows Apps Using Task Manager

Using the Task Manager is one of the most common ways of force-quitting programs in Window. It’s a powerful tool that helps you monitor your system, manage startup programs, and end tasks, among other things.

Follow these steps to force close a Windows program using Task Manager:

  1. Launch Task Manager. You can do this in any of the following ways:
    • Using the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keyboard shortcut
    • Pressing Win + X and choosing Task Manager from the Quick Access menu options
    • Right-clicking on the taskbar and selecting Task Manager
  2. Tap on More details to expand the view and see all details.
    view active tasks in windows
  3. Click on the unresponsive application and tap the End task button at the bottom of the window. Alternatively, right-click on the frozen program and select End task.

    force quit an unresponsive app in windows

2. Force Quit Windows Apps Using Command Prompt

Although the Task Manager method can force close frozen programs on your Windows PC most of the time, in case even it gets frozen, you can use the Command Prompt to force quit a Windows app.

Here are the steps to force quit on Windows using Command Prompt:

  1. Launch Command Prompt. Depending on your preference, you can do this using any of these ways:
    • Hit Start and type cmd. Launch the best match in the results.
    • Bring up Run using the Win + R shortcut, search for cmd, and launch it.
  2. Type the following command in the CMD window to view the list of tasks currently active on your system:
    tasklist command output
  3. Note the image name of the problematic application you want to close in the task list output and use it with the taskkill command:
    taskkill /f /im program_name.exe
    For example, if you want to close Brave, you’d run:
    taskkill /f /im brave.exe
    force quitting an app in windows using taskkill command

A SUCCESS confirmation message should appear in the CMD window, letting you know that the unresponsive app is now closed. Alternatively, if an ERROR message is returned instead, make sure to type/paste the command correctly.

3. Force Quit Windows Apps Using PowerShell

Just like the Command Prompt, PowerShell is another CLI-based program that lets you perform various system operations in Windows. So if you prefer using PowerShell over CMD for all your CLI-related tasks, you can use it to force close programs in Windows as well:

Below are the steps to force quit an application using PowerShell:

  1. Launch PowerShell. You can do this using any of the following ways:
    • Hit Start and search for powershell. Launch the best match in the results.
    • Bring up Run using the Win + R shortcut, search for powershell, and launch it.
  2. Enter the following command to list the running processes:
    get-process command output
  3. Note the name of the program you want to force quit and add it to the command below:
    stop-process  -name "process_name"
    For eg:
    stop-process -name "brave"
    force-stop command output

4. Force Quit Unresponsive Windows Programs Using a Shortcut

All of the above methods require you to go through a series of steps to force quit an unresponsive Windows program on your computer. However, if you’re already finding these a tedious exercise, there’s an alternative way to force quit on Windows more efficiently.

For this, all you need is a shortcut, which runs a CMD command that helps it identify the unresponsive program and force close it, all by itself.

Use these steps to create the shortcut:

  1. Right-click on an empty area on your desktop and select New > Shortcut.
    force quitting an app using shortcut
  2. Tap on the text box and enter the following command:
    taskkill /f /fi “status eq not responding”.
    force quitting an app using shortcut
  3. Hit Next.
  4. Give a name to your shortcut and hit Finish.
    force quitting an app using shortcut

Once you’ve created the shortcut, the next time an app freezes and throws a Not Responding error, double-click this shortcut to force quit the app.

Reinstate the Frozen App Back to Normal

No matter whether you’re using Windows 10 or Windows 11, it can sometimes present you with a scenario where an app stops responding and throws the Not Responding error out of nowhere.

When this happens, your best bet is to force quit the frozen app and reinstate it back to normal. This guide should make it easier for you to perform this on your PC. However, if none of these methods quit the app, you may want to shut down your PC using the power button.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you keep experiencing this issue with an app repeatedly, you need to find and fix the underlying problem that’s causing it to freeze in the first place.

FAQs About Force Quitting Windows Apps

Alt + F4 is a keyboard shortcut used to close the currently active window on your desktop. It's essentially the same as closing the app via the close button and is particularly effective when your mouse is unresponsive (and you can't close an app using it).

However, if an app is frozen, there are very slim chances that using this keyboard shortcut would unfreeze the app or force close it. In which case, you must try other methods to force close the frozen app.

There are a few different ways to end a task in Windows 10. Of these, the easiest method is to use the Task Manager, as demonstrated in the following steps:

  1. Open the Task Manager.
  2. Tap on More details to expand the view and view the list of all running tasks and processes.
  3. Click on the task you want to end and tap on the End task button. Alternatively, right-click on the task you want to end and select End task from the context menu.

Refer to the guide above to learn about other methods of ending tasks in Windows.

To kill an unresponsive program in Windows 10, you can use the Task Manager. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the Task Manager, and then select the program you want to kill. If the program is not responding, you can select End Task to force it to close.

To unfreeze a program, you can usually go to the Control Panel and find an "unfreeze" or "thaw" program under the "Programs" category. If this does not work, you can try using the "Ctrl + Alt + Delete" shortcut to open the Task Manager and then select the program you want to unfreeze and click "End Task."

For whatever reason you can't invoke the Task manager using CTRL+ALT+DEL, you can force close a Windows program using command prompt instead. Follow these steps:

  1. Open Windows Command Prompt by typing "cmd" in the Windows Search bar.
  2. Type "tasklist" in the prompt. It will show you the list of tasks running on Windows 10/11.
  3. Try to find the name of the application you are trying to quit.
  4. Close the offending program. Ex: type "taskkill /PID 28031"
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