How to Force Quit an App on an iMac or Macbook

One of the most effective ways to fix problems with apps is to force quit them. Unlike minimizing or closing an app, the Force Quit option kills all processes, even for apps that are frozen and won't respond.

Force quitting an unresponsive application on your Mac is a quick and effective way to stop a program from loading or a program that is running too slowly. It could be an app that wants to stay open all the time or an app that just isn't responding, but either way it can be incredibly frustrating.

There are several ways to force quit an app on a Mac, and we'll go over each of them in this article.

How to Force Quit an App on macOS

Although the instructions may vary depending on the version of macOS you are using (Big Sur, Catalina, etc.), force quitting an application is relatively simple. There are several ways to force close and apply on macOS. We will cover them in this section.

Method 1 – Use the Apple Menu

One of the easiest and most universal options to force quit an app is to use the Apple menu. The nice thing about this option is that no matter how the app behaves (it's using all your RAM, not responding, etc.), it will quickly close the problematic app. Here's how:

  1. Make sure that the problematic application is active, in addition to other applications running by your Mac.

Using the Mac OS X Docking Station

One of the best and easiest ways to force quit an unresponsive app is to use the “Option” key:

Use the "control" button and the mouse or trackpad to click on the application.

While holding down the Option key, you will notice that “Quit” will change to “Force Quit”. The app will automatically close once you click on the “Force Quit” option.

Use Activity Monitor to stop an application

For anyone unfamiliar with how Activity Monitor works, it's very much like Windows' "Task Manager" or "System Monitor" for Linux users. Basically, you can easily control all processes and applications from Activity Monitor. To use Activity Monitor to force quit an application:

Open 'Finder' from your Dock

Click on 'Applications' then 'Utilities'

Click on 'Activity Monitor'

Click on the "Energy" tab and double-click on the application

Click on 'Exit'

Use the Force Quit Window

Another option to close an application is to use the Force-Quit Applications window.

On your Mac, just press "Command" plus "Option" plus "Esc", which will launch the force close window. Next, select the name of the unresponsive app and click the "Force Quit" button to close the app immediately.

Use a keyboard shortcut

For anyone who prefers to use a simple, basic shortcut on the keyboard to force quit a program, this is a very simple process.

First, choose the unresponsive app and then bring it to the foreground. To do this, simply right-click on the icon of the target application displayed in the Dock and then choose "Show / Show all / Show all windows" depending on the unresponsive application.

Once the specific app comes to the fore, then hold down the “Command” plus “Option” plus “Shift” and “Escape” keys for a few seconds to force quit the app.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some more answers to help our Mac users force close apps.

I still have the same problems with an app, what should I do?

If you have an app that keeps freezing and you have to quit it often, there could be a number of reasons. First, check that the app is up to date with the latest version. If so, check that your Mac OS X device is also running the latest version. If you're running a newer version of an app but an older version of macOS, the two may not work well together.

If everything is up to date as it should, check that the app is from a trusted developer (it probably is on a Mac), then try installing it again. If you are still having problems, you can ask the app developers or Apple for further assistance.

What is the keyboard shortcut to force quit an app?

The Mac version of CTRL-Alt-Delete is " command+option+esc which will access a context menu of running applications. If the app you're having trouble with is already on your screen, this shortcut will take you directly to the app.

Does "Force Quit" affect the application?

The answer depends on the application and what you do with it. If the app is in the middle of an update, it can cause issues where you just have to uninstall it and then reinstall it.

If you're working on the app and haven't saved your progress, chances are you'll lose all of your progress.

My whole screen is frozen, what can I do?

If the application you're having trouble with is inaccessible because your entire computer is frozen, you can force restart your Mac. To do this, you can either hold down the power button and wait for it to turn off. Then wait 30 seconds to turn it back on. This should solve the problem.

Or, you can use command + control buttons while holding down the power button. Wait for a while after it completely shuts down and then press and hold the power button to bring your system back to life.

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