How to Control Alt Delete on a Mac

You are probably one of the countless computer users who have switched from Windows to Apple iOS. As an experienced Windows user, you know that pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete keys is the backup of a frozen Windows device.

However, on rare occasions, your Mac may suddenly stop working unexpectedly. Now you know that the same keys you used with Windows don't do anything for your Mac. Your only choice seems to be to turn off your computer's power and start over.

You can avoid shutting down your computer to get your Mac working again, because iOS actually has its own version of the Control+Alt+Delete shortcut. Read on for the options available if your Mac is frozen in time.

How to Control Alt Delete on a Mac

Using the Ctrl+Alt+Delete keys in Windows activates a menu with utilities that allow you to safely close programs. When the computer restarts, the autosave feature recovers the work you had in progress. The equivalent of this functionality in Mac is an override that forces the offending program to stop. Then the device will shut down and restart.

There are several ways to use this feature on Mac. This is called a "force to leave". Perform this method if you restart Mac using the Apple menu as follows:

  1. Tap the Apple logo (at the top left corner of the screen).
  2. Choose "Force Quit" from the drop-down menu.
  3. Select the program that has stopped from the list. Click "Force Quit".

You may not be able to access the Home screen if your Mac is frozen. However, you can open "Force Quit" from the screen you are on. Here are the steps to follow if you are not on the home screen:

  1. Simultaneously press CMD+Option+Esc. On some Macs, the Option key is the Alt key.
  2. The “Force Quit” pop-up window will appear. Select the app you want to close.

A third option for closing an unresponsive program on a Mac is to use the dock. The dock is similar to "Task Manager" on a Windows device. Here are the steps:

  1. Find the program you want to close in your Mac dock.
  2. Hold down the Option key.
  3. Right-click on the program name.
  4. Select "Force Quit".

Sometimes a problem can cause a program to pause for just a few seconds. This is a normal phenomenon, and you can use the CMD and Q keys to close the program when you're done. However, if an application does not respond to any commands, you may need to use "Force Quit".

Unlike Windows, your progress isn't always saved when you force quit a program. Therefore, use the process with caution. If your Mac crashes regularly, it may be related to how you use it. Keep reading to see what you can do to keep programs running.

Potential causes of program crashes

Your Mac will visually tell you that there is a problem. If your screen freezes and you see a stationary spinning wheel on the screen, it may mean that the system has aborted a program. Try the suggestions above to restart your Mac. Once you've turned it back on, see if any of the following troubleshooting tips can prevent this from happening as often.

  • Check your background activity in Activity Monitor. Keeping a large number of applications open can cause programs to crash. To see what's running in the background:
    1. Open Spotlight Search (press Ctrl+Space).
    2. Tap "Activity Monitor" to open the app.
    3. Show and close apps you don't need.
  • Close unused windows to avoid overloading your browser.
  • Make sure the latest version of the program is installed.
  • Run a scan of the app to make sure it is virus free.

More often than not, these user-related issues will fix most cases of your Mac freezing. However, if you use games and other "data-intensive" programs, you may need to increase your device's memory. Many Mac models are built with configurable memory slots. The Apple System User's Information Guide will give you instructions on how to upgrade your memory.

How to control Alt Delete on a Windows virtual machine from a Mac?

If your Mac screen freezes in a Windows virtual machine (VM), the solutions are similar to the ones above. However, the steps to start depend on the VM software platform you are using. Also, the fix differs depending on how you control the remote PC.

Unless you're using an external Windows keyboard, you won't press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to restart your Mac computer. There are, however, several other key combinations that will do the trick.

The keys to press are specific to the keyboard you are using. Here's how to reboot your Mac into a VM using a full-size Mac keyboard:

  1. Press the Forward key, just below the Help key.
  2. Hold the Del+Ctrl+Option buttons.

The steps to unfreeze the screen using a Mac laptop keyboard are slightly different. They are:

  1. Press the FN (Function) key.
  2. Use the shortcut Ctrl+Option+Delete.

Some Windows virtual machine systems have an alternate menu with a feature that lets you restart a Mac just like you would in Windows. Although Macs don't have a direct analog to the Ctrl+Alt+Delete key combination, you can duplicate this function through the remote system menu.

Here's how to find "control alt delete" if you're using the Windows VM view:

  1. Tap the "Reveal" icon in the top left of the VM screen (to the left of the gear icon).
  2. Select "control deletion of deletion" at the top of the drop-down list.

If you are in Coherence View on the VM, you can find "control alt delete" as follows:

  1. Tap the two red vertical lines at the top of the screen to open the Mac menu bar.
  2. Select "Devices".
  3. Choose “Keyboard”.
  4. Select the "Remove alt control" option at the top of the drop-down list.

Either of the above steps will unlock your Mac. Once your device restarts, it's a good idea to figure out why your Mac is misbehaving. A common reason is that your backup apps are malfunctioning. They repeatedly back up the same files causing them to crash on your Mac or virtual machine.

You can fix misbehaving backup apps pretty quickly. Try these suggestions:

  • Disable backup apps.
  • Configure the schedule that stops to pause the backup.
  • Disable all applications that sync data in the VM.
  • Use shared folders to share files from your Mac to the VM.

There may be additional reasons why your Mac needs to restart in the virtual machine. For example, some Windows virtual machines are corrupted due to virus or system overload. If you're still having trouble with your Mac getting stuck in the virtual machine, visit the Support Center on your Windows virtual machine's website.

More gel label

Has a frozen device made you stare at the so-called 'spinning wheel of death' one too many times? Thaw your Mac as easily as you did with your Windows operating system. Try using the tips you read here when a program freezes your device. Then enjoy your game, presentation or other programs without interruption.

Has your Mac ever stopped working while you were doing something important? Tell us how you brought it back to life in the comments section below.

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