How To Force Quit Apps

Sometimes an app will stop working properly and you need to force it to quit. You can do this one of many ways in Mac OS X. If one of the standard methods does not work, you can always resort to using the Activity Monitor. And if all else fails, you can use the Terminal to force an app to quit.

Comments: 16 Responses to “How To Force Quit Apps”

    Richard Fuhr
    6 years ago

    Your various techniques for force-quitting an app are very useful; I learned a few new ones. But sometimes (as was the case tonight with Safari), the app is frozen and nothing on my Mac responded to mouse, keyboard, or trackpad input. So I couldn’t use any of your techniques, and, as a last resort, the only recourse seemed to be to power off my Mac and start it up again. Is there anything else that could be done in such cases?

      6 years ago

      That’s very unusual and I would be concerned. I haven’t had that happen in years. I would have waited at least 10 minutes to see if some misbehaving app wasn’t causing trouble and would release the processor after some time. I’d keep a careful eye out for more problems and make sure your Time Machine backups are working. If it happens again I would have an expert take a look because there could be a serious problem.

    Dale Shaw
    6 years ago

    Thank you for these helpful hints. What is the solution when your keyboard becomes non-responsive?

      6 years ago

      You should still be able to switch between apps using the Dock or other methods. Then when you are using another app, you should be able to use the keyboard. If not, then something serious may be going on. I would seek out first-hand help to resolve the problem.

        Shirley Allan
        6 years ago

        I’ve found since updating to Mavericks that the keyboard and the mouse will stop being “Paired” which is a big pain. Sometimes you get a “lost connection” alert sometimes you don’t get anything except a non responsive keyboard or mouse. I have successfully re-paired the offending keyboard or mouse by using System Preferences >Bluetooth but only after as Gary suggests waiting at least 10 minutes (and in some cases overnight).

          6 years ago

          If the issue is that a wireless keyboard is no getting disconnected from the Mac, then I would re-connect it as Shirley suggests. But I would not wait to do it. I would do it right away. If that is the problem then you don’t need to wait.

      John Jung
      6 years ago

      I found that unplugging the usb keyboard and then plugging it back in right away solved the problem.

        6 years ago

        So there are three situations: wired keyboard, wireless keyboard, attached keyboard (MacBooks). The third is the most common since Apple sells more MacBooks than other types of Macs. In the case of the first two, you have some options that may restore the keyboard connection as long as it isn’t an app that has actually created a bigger problem and the keyboard responsiveness is just a symptom.

    mamablair
    6 years ago

    Great video, Gary. I’ve used the regular methods of force-quitting but never had to use Terminal to do so (glad to know it’s so easy!). About quitting an app from the Dock, I find that I don’t need to use the control key to do so. Just a regular press and hold works for me.

    Dave H
    6 years ago

    Some difficulty with “command top” instruction in Terminal Ap. I opened Terminal , depressed the Command key and typed “top” (without the italics) and all I got was what looked like a finder window. When I open Terminal it contains log-in info and doesn’t look like your screen. I am running Maverick.
    I too have had issues with the system locking up (mainly iPhoto and Raw files) and have had to resort to holding down the off button and re-booting, so maybe it is not that unusual.

      6 years ago

      Perhaps your are not using an “admin” user account? It should ask you for a login. And you don’t need to use the Command key, just type top and then Return.

    MRR
    6 years ago

    If the kill command doesn’t work from terminal, should you use kill -9 ?

      6 years ago

      You can try it if you like. Though a restart might be in order if that is the case anyway.

        Ilan
        6 years ago

        In Unix (and MacOS is a version of it), a ‘kill ‘ sends SIGTERM to the process ID . This is signal #2 and it gives the process a chance to catch it programmatically and hopefully exit gracefully.
        On the other hand, ‘kill -9 ‘, sends SIGKILL to the process ID . SIGKILL cannot be caught by any process. It tells the OS to really terminate the process.

          Ilan
          6 years ago

          Sometimes after killing a process, the app seems to continue to run. It will have a different PID this time and it’s usually because a different process is re-spawning it. Usually it will be its parent process (the PPID) and sometimes it will be a script buried somewhere in /etc/ .

    gloria papai
    6 years ago

    Iphoto, mail and google apps were loading and unloading at the same time and nothing would stay still long enough for me to force quit. When I did get the force quit button on the screen, the mouse would then be unresponsive just as I was ready to force click. I seem to have solved the problem just by sheer perseverance but am nervous that the same problem will occur again – any suggestions to help next time would be appreciated.

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