How to Force Quit an App in Mac OS X

Posted by Will on July 7, 2015

Every Way to Force Quit an App in Mac OS X

Forcing an unresponsive app to quit on your Mac is an effective, quick way to stop a program from hanging or one that’s running too slow. While you’re probably familiar with the usual way of ending a program by using the ‘Option’ key, you can also use any of the following five methods in order to successfully force an app in Mac OS X to quit as well.

1. Use the Mac OS X Dock

One of the simplest and easiest ways to force-quit an app that’s non-responsive is to just use the ‘Option’ key:

  • Right-click the target app icon of the application that’s not responding in the Dock.
  • While holding down the Option key, you’ll notice that ‘Quit’ will change to ‘Force-Quit’. The app will automatically shut down once you click on the ‘Force-Quit’ option.


2. Use Activity Monitor to Shut Down an App

For anyone who isn’t familiar with how Activity Monitor works, it’s very comparable to the ‘Task Manager’ in Windows or ‘System Monitor’ for Linux users. Essentially, you can easily control all processes and apps from the Activity Monitor. To use Activity Monitor to force an app to shut down:


  • On your Mac, open the Activity Monitor by either using Spotlight or going to ‘Applications’, ‘Utilities’, and then ‘Activity Monitor’.
  • Click on the ‘Energy’ tab in Activity Monitor. You will readily notice all your open (active) apps in addition to any previous tab(s) you may have opened over the course of the last 8 hours. At this point, if you don’t see the unresponsive app listed, you’ll have to manually search for it using the Search field.
  • Once you see the unresponsive app, select it and then click the ‘X’ button that appears on the menu bar.


3. Force an App to Quit by Using Terminal

Instantly stop a certain app from running by using Terminal through the use of the kill command. In order to force a command to quit using Terminal, the first step is to find the process ID (PID) of the target app you want to shut down. Launch terminal and run the command ps -ax. This will output a list of the current processes running.

After you locate the unresponsive app’s PID, proceed to open Terminal on your system, and then enter the following command:

kill -9 PID (be sure to leave a space after the term ‘kill’)

Next, simply replace PID with the app’s process ID that you located earlier. Once the information is entered, the app will immediately stop and you’ll see your desktop once again.

4. Use the Force-Quit Window

Another option to make an app close down is to use the Force-Quit Applications Window. On your Mac, just press ‘Command’ plus ‘Option’ plus ‘Escape’, which will initiate the force-quit window. Next, select the name of the unresponsive app and click on the ‘Force-Quit’ button in order to immediately close the app.


5. Use a Shortcut on the Keyboard

For anyone who prefers to use a simple, basic shortcut on the keyboard in order to force-quit a program, it’s a very straightforward process. First, choose which application is unresponsive and then bring it to the forefront. Do this by simply right-clicking on the target app icon shown in the Dock and then choosing ‘Show/Show All/Show All Windows’ according to which app isn’t responding. Once the specific app is showing in the foreground, subsequently hold down the keys ‘Command’ plus ‘Option’ plus ‘Shift’ plus ‘Escape’ for just a few seconds in order to force the app to close.

Using any one of these five methods should solve your problem by instantly closing the unresponsive app on your system so you can get back to work right away.

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