Windows 10 may be more stable than ever before but that doesn’t stop it or programs running on it, misbehaving occasionally. Usually, a quick Alt +F4 will do the trick and close the faulty app but sometimes it isn’t enough. This tutorial is for those times.
Usually, when a program becomes unresponsive, it freezes. If you’re particularly unlucky, it will also freeze the desktop or the entire operating system. If just the program freezes, there are a couple of things you can do before hitting the reset button on your device. Let’s see if we can force close the misbehaving program and restore the desktop to fully working condition.
Force close a program in Windows 10
Usually, if a program freezes, you hit Alt + F4 and close it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Alt +F4 is a request, not a command so, much of the success depends on what happened to the program in question. Fortunately, it is only one of a few methods we have at our disposal to force close programs. Here are some more.
Force close a program using Task Manager
The next most obvious method to force close a program is to use Task Manager. In fact, for most Windows users, it’s the only time they would ever use Task Manager.
- Hit Ctrl + Alt + Delete to access Task Manager.
- Highlight the unresponsive program and select End Task.
- Wait a few seconds for it to close the program.
After you’ve highlighted the program you can either right-click it and hit ‘End Task,’ or simply click ‘End Task’ in the bottom right-hand corner.
Like Alt + F4, sometimes Ctrl + Alt + Delete works and sometimes it doesn’t. If the program is completely locked, more drastic action is required.
If you use Task Manager a lot to control apps, you might want to set it to always load on top. This stops those frustrating moments when you hit Ctrl + Alt + Delete and Task Manager opens underneath the frozen program so you cannot get to it. It isn’t perfect but works in the majority of instances.
- Hit Ctrl + Alt + Delete to access Task Manager.
- Select Options from the top menu.
- Select Always on top.
This will set Task Manager to load on top of any programs you might have open at the time.
Force close a program using taskkill
Taskkill is a Windows command-line action that forces the OS to shut down the process. You can use it either as an instruction to use as and when or set it as a desktop shortcut.
- Open a CMD window as an administrator.
- Type ‘tasklist’ and hit Enter. Locate the locked program and note its PID.
- Type ‘taskkill /PID 1234 /f’ and hit Enter. Where you see 1234, type the PID of the unresponsive program.
You should see a message that says ‘SUCCESS: The process with PID 1234 has been terminated.’
Set taskkill up as a shortcut
If you come up against a lot of unresponsive programs, it might be worthwhile setting up this command as a desktop shortcut. That way, all you need to do is double-click an icon and Windows will force close the program.
- Right-click on an empty part of your desktop.
- Select New, Shortcut and type ‘taskkill.exe /f /fi “status eq not responding”’ in the location and click Next.
- Give it a name and click Finish.
Now if a program freezes, just double click the icon and the script should automatically close any program that is not responding. You can also assign it a shortcut key combination for even faster execution.
- Right click your new taskkill shortcut and select Properties.
- Add a key into the Shortcut key box. Windows will automatically add Ctrl + Alt to create the combination.
- Set Run to Minimized if you don’t want to see the CMD window flash up when it works.
Force close a program using another program
There are two Windows programs of note that are useful for unresponsive programs, ProcessXP and SuperF4.
ProcessXP  is a free program that you can use instead of Task Manager. It offers much more detail and control over resources and programs and is very lightweight. It is actually a Microsoft product and why they don’t integrate some of its features into Task Manager I do not know.
SuperF4  is a program that needs to be installed and running but offers a much deeper control over force closing a program in Windows 10. It provides the shortcut Ctrl + Alt + F4 and works at a much deeper level within Windows. This allows it to work in many more situations where Alt + F4 or Ctrl + Alt + Delete cannot help.
The program is free but does accept donations from those who are willing to give them.
My cursor is stuck, what can I do?
Sometimes when a program freezes it can take other functions with it, one of those being your cursor. In most cases, as long as you still have a working keyboard, it’s easy to access your task manager and other systems to close programs.
As mentioned above, Alt-F4 is going to be your best bet. But, here are some keyboard shortcuts to help you in the event that your cursor failed to respond:
Access the Task Manager – Win+X will pull up a sub-menu where you can use the arrow keys on your computer to access the Task Manager. Click ‘Enter’ when you’ve highlighted the option. You can also use Ctrl+Alt+Delete then Alt+T to access the device manager.
Enter taskkill – Using the Win+R shortcut type in cmd and click ‘Enter’ on your keyboard. Now you have access to the command prompt where you can follow the instructions above for taskkill.