The quick Command+Option+Esc keyboard shortcut gives you access to a list of running apps and lets you force-quit the if necessary. You can force-quit several apps as well, or use this as a quick app switcher. There are also other ways to force-quit apps, though in normal use you should always try to quit an app normally.



Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today’s episode I’m going to show you how to use Command/Option/Escape.

One question I often get from people who have recently switched from Windows to Mac is how do you do the equivalent to Control/Alt/Delete. This is the famous command that is used on Windows and other computers that allows you to force quit an application. There is other similar commands like it that will bring up a list of apps that are currently running.

You can do the same thing on the Mac. The command sequence is Command/Option/Escape. These are all on the left side of the keyboard and you can hold down Command and Option with your thumb and then with your middle finger just tap Escape.

So let’s take a look at what happens when I do this. I’m going to hold down Command and Option and hit Escape. I get this box here that says Force Quit Applications. I can scroll through the list and see what apps I’m currently running. I can select one and hit Force Quit.

Now even if you are familiar with this you may not know there are a few other things you can do. For instance, you can double click on any app there and it will bring it to the front and show it to you or bring you to the space if you are using mission control. So you can use it as kind of an application switcher.

You can also select multiple applications. For instance if I select one, like Pages, and I say Force Quit I will get asked if I want to quit Pages. I can hold the Command key down and select several or hold the Shift key down and select a range, hit Force Quit and it will allow me to quit the three selected applications.

Now also you can see here that all of the names of the applications are in black. If an application was misbehaving and the operating system detected that it would appear in red and actually give you a message next to it. So if you suspect, say you are running a bunch of applications and things are getting slow something may not be working correctly, you hit Command/Option/Escape you can go through the list and see if you have warnings next to any of these apps. That can give you a clue to what is going wrong. Then you can select the app and force it to quit.

Of course in normal day to day use you should never have to use the Command/Option/Escape and force quit something. You should be able to go to its regular menu item and quit. Even if you suspect that it is not working correctly and you feel that you are going to have to force quit it make sure you try this first because of course this will quit gracefully meaning that the app is going to stop certain things that it is doing, save data, save preferences, all of that.

Force quitting is always a little dangerous and should always be the last resort.

Now another thing you can do if you just want to quit the application that is currently running or you know exactly what you want to force quit you can go down here to the dock, and say I want to quit TextEdit. You go to Control, you hold the Control key down and click, or do a two finger click on the track pad, whatever your secondary click of preference is, and you see there is Quit here at the bottom. This is a really quick way. It is a substitute for going up to the menu here and using Quit.

But if you hold down the Option key you can see that it changes to Force Quit. So you can use the Dock to force quit a single app. You can actually use the Menu to do this as well. Of course you have the regular Quit here as well but under the Apple menu here you’ve got the actual command for Force Quit (Command/Option/Escape). Here is the actual menu choice. So you can use this instead of the keyboard shortcut.

If you hold down the Shift key then the front most running app will appear and you can Force Quit TextEdit right here. You can see that the actual keyboard command for that is Option/Shift/Command/Escape.

But in practice I found that Command/Option/Shift/Escape to quit the currently running app doesn’t actually work. Every time I try it it doesn’t seem to happen. So you have to use that Menu item instead.

There are other ways to collapse as well. Using the terminal, using the activity monitor. But the main thing to get here is to be to use Command/Option/Escape when something happens. When a third party app isn’t behaving properly and you can’t quit it. It is a quick and easy way to find out what is going wrong and solve the problem at the same time.

Hope you found this useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.


2 Responses to “MacMost Now 870: Command Option Escape”

  1. Smackey says:

    Good video, nice and concise, you’re a good teacher :)

  2. Glenn says:

    Nice video. I did not know about selecting multiple applications in the Force Quit dialog box or the methods in the Dock.

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