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How to Force Quit a Frozen App on Your Mac

If you use a Mac, it’s important to know what to do if an app freezes up or your computer isn’t responding. This problem can often be resolved by force quitting the application in question. A force quit is simply a way to completely close an application and any other supporting processes that it launched.

Note: force quitting an app may cause unsaved work to be lost. Be sure to save and back up your work frequently.

There are four methods to force quit an app on a Mac:

  • From the Apple menu
  • With a keyboard shortcut
  • From the Dock
  • From the Activity Monitor

Usually, you will be able to solve the issue with one of these force quit methods. If you continue to have problems, there may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. If you’ve tried force quitting and still can’t get your computer working properly, get in touch with us! We can help you figure out what’s going on.

Force Quit an App from the Apple Menu

If an app is unresponsive but you can still move your mouse cursor, the easiest way to force quit an app is by clicking on the Apple icon at the top left of the screen. Select “Force Quit” from the menu. A window will pop up that lists all currently-running applications, and it helpfully shows which ones are not responding. Select the app you want to close and click the “Force Quit” button.

Force Quit an App with a Keyboard Shortcut

Closeup view of lower-left corner of Mac keyboard - Shortcut to Force Quit App

The fastest way to open the same list of applications that you can access from the Apple menu is with a keyboard shortcut: Command + Option + Esc. Press and hold the Command and Option keys and then press Esc to open the Force Quit Applications window. This shortcut is very useful if your mouse cursor is also frozen, and you can use the arrows on your keyboard to select an application and the Enter key to confirm the force quit.

Force Quit an App from the Dock

You can also access the force quit option from your Mac’s dock. Simply find the icon for the app you want to force quit on the dock, and right-click or Ctrl-click on it. You’ll see a menu that has “Quit” as an option. You can try just quitting normally, but if that doesn’t work, you can hold down the Option key, which will change “Quit” to “Force Quit” and you can click on that to force the application to close completely.

Force Quit an App from the Activity Monitor

The final way to force quit an unresponsive app is through the Activity Monitor, a utility that shows you everything running on your computer. You can find the Activity Monitor in your Applications > Utilities folder. Clicking on the X in the top left will allow you to Quit or Force Quit an application. 

To access the Activity Monitor, open a Finder window by clicking on the blue and white face icon in the dock or clicking on your desktop and hitting Command + N on the keyboard. (Don’t how to use Finder? Click here.)

Navigate to your Applications folder, which you can find in the left sidebar of the Finder. You can also jump to this folder by hitting Command + Shift + A on the keyboard.

From the Applications folder, navigate to Utilities. You can also jump straight there by hitting Command + Shift + U in a Finder window.

Finally, open the Activity Monitor. You’ll see a list of everything running on your computer.

Find the app you want to force quit, and then click on the X icon in the top left corner of the Activity Monitor window. This will bring up a pop-up with the option to Cancel, Force Quit, or Quit.

Further Troubleshooting for Frozen Mac Apps

Top-down view of a MacBook Pro in a workspace - Force Quit App Article

Continued problems with a specific app or program may indicate that it is infected with malware. The program may also be incompatible with something else that’s running on your computer. If you find yourself having to frequently force quit a particular app, make sure that it’s fully compatible with your version of macOS. You should also consider screening your computer for malware.

Anytime you need help with your Mac, we’re always here for you! We know you’re dependent on your technology in your everyday life, but often don’t have the time to learn how to do your own troubleshooting and repair. Our technicians have the expertise to quickly solve your tech issues. When in doubt, don’t waste your time—get in touch with us to schedule an appointment with one of our expert technicians, all of whom are fully insured. They’ll come to you, troubleshoot the problem, and tune up your computer so that you can get back to work as quickly as possible.

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