When Does the Mac Red Button Quit an App and When Does It Just Close a Window?

When you click the red button at the top left corner of a window on a Mac, you close that window. But sometimes this also quits the app entirely. There is a logic behind this, based on how the app operates. Apps that allow multiple windows for multiple documents usually only use the red button to close a window. But apps that normally operate with a single window and have no other reason to stay open, will quit.

Comments: 11 Responses to “When Does the Mac Red Button Quit an App and When Does It Just Close a Window?”

    Daniel Gartin
    7 months ago

    One app on the Mac is an exception to the quitting apps rule, the Finder, because it’s a core component of macOS so it’s running all the time

    Ian MacGregor
    7 months ago

    Is there a way to tell between single and multiple window apps just by looking at them? Or is it just better to Click the Quite menu item, or press Command+Q, when we want to close an app. I’m thinking it’s more efficient just to press Command+Q when we want to close an app, it just seems to save time.

    7 months ago

    Ian: Just use Quit, or Command+Q if you want to quit an app.

    Lee Wagner
    7 months ago

    NUMBERS spreadsheet ALERT. Be aware that the red button will irretrievably FREEZE a NUMBERS spreadsheet if you click it while in the PRINT screen mode. You MUST first click CLOSE from the the PRINT screen mode—reverting to the SPREADSHEET mode—before closing a spreadsheet using the red button.

    7 months ago

    Lee: I’m not experiencing this. Clicking the Red button closes the window for me whether in Print mode or otherwise.

    Joan
    7 months ago

    The three buttons on my Mac in the upper left corner are all gray.. and not colored.. I’m sure there is an easy fix for this but what is it ?

    7 months ago

    Joan: It means that you can’t use any of them right now. Which app are you using, which window? There are plenty of situations for this — like if you are in the middle of choosing a document to open, or save, answering a question in a dialog, etc.

    Joan Boes
    7 months ago

    Gary- Even when I have an active app (like my Mail app) and I’m using it, the 3 buttons are still all gray. It is with all the apps I use.. Mail app, Photos app, Messages app, Pages app – they remain all gray even when I am actively using the app.

    7 months ago

    Joan: Have you change you Accent Color? System Preferences, General. If you select gray as the accent color, then you get gray buttons at the top of the window too.

    Joan Boes
    7 months ago

    Let me add, thecolor is the not ‘light gray’ but a darker gray. I know what it means when a button is grayed out (can’t use it or is unavailable) but the 3 buttons are a darker gray than when you see grayed out buttons or bars that are unavailable.

    Joan Boes
    7 months ago

    Ahhh !!! That’s what it was !!! I had the accent color set as ‘graphite’… See, I knew it had to be an easy fix.. Thanks !!!

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