If you've used a Windows computer, you already know the magic three keyboard combination of CTRL, ALT, and DELETE to quickly force quit a program that isn't working correctly. It's a fail-safe built into the operating system that makes it easy to break free of the malfunctioning software. However, what happens when you need to do that on a Mac? Those three keys do not do the same thing on an Apple computer, which is why you'll need to know how to force quit Mac apps. Here's what you need to know.
Why Should You Force Quit Mac Apps That Aren't Responding?
From time to time applications will freeze up. This might be because the app hasn't been updated to work with the latest operating system patch, or the software bugged up as it used too much RAM for your computer to handle. A virus may have found its way on your computer and is weighing the software down. There's any number of reasons why your Mac application isn't responding. When this happens, you need to know how to force quit Mac apps.
Should the application fail to respond you'll need to quit the app. But sometimes you can't just click the red "X" on the program screen or right-click the program icon on the dock at the bottom of the screen. You shouldn't hold down the power button to reboot the computer, as this restarts everything, it isn't great for your computer system, and you'll lose out on files that may have been opened but not saved in other programs.
Knowing how to force quit Mac apps is important, and thankfully it doesn't take long to learn how to do this. There is a basic work around, and then there is a more in-depth method for going into the system and closing out the application. It all depends on how severe the freezing and application lock-up is.
How Does Force Quitting Mac Apps That Aren't Responding Work?
When the application no longer responds it may remain open on the computer screen but it will not respond to any of your prompts or clicks. This means when you try to exit the program or turn it off it won't respond at all. It's like a car that has stalled out and isn't responding when you try to turn the key. Once it stalls out and fails to rev back up, it's just blocking space. An application that doesn't work will remain on the screen and can prevent other applications from running. In fact, the entire computer may stop working correctly with the failed application.
Somewhere along the way a file failed and did not run as it should. When the file failed, the computer could not continue on with its process, so the application tripped over itself. It's a kink in the wheel and now the wheels won't turn. In order to correct the problem, you need to know how to force quit Mac apps.
After you force quit the application, it should work correctly the next time through. However, if it crashes the next time through, it means there needs to be a file update, either for the operating system, the application, or both. You should also let the app report the information back to Apple and the developer as this will help both identify potential problems and design the patches.
How to Force Quit Mac Apps That Aren't Responding
When it comes to knowing how to force quit Mac apps there are two steps to the process. There is a general force quit that should work for most issues you run into. However, in some more serious situations, if the force quit option is not working there is a secondary method you can take advantage of that will allow you to quit out the program completely.
Force Quitting From the Dock
This is the form of how to force quit Mac apps you'll likely need to follow as it will solve the vast majority of your problems.
When the application does not respond, you need to find the software icon on the dock. It will have a dot under it, which means the app is open. Right-click the icon (or "Control" click the icon), to bring up a small pull-down menu. You'll have a number of options here. You should first select to "Quit" the application. If this doesn't work, and the app remains open, you'll want to Control click the icon again, then choose "Force Quit."
In a moment, the application window should close out and it should shut down completely. You know the application has completely shut down when the dot under the dock icon disappears. After the forced quit you should check your computer to see if there are any available system or app updates. You can do this by clicking the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen, click "About This Mac," and then choose "Software Update..." The computer will scan to see if any system updates available for you to download. If there are, make sure to download and install the updates before attempting to launch the application again.
If the dock force quit doesn't work, you can hold down the buttons "Command," "Option," and "Escape" at the same time. This will bring up a "Force Quit Applications" window. Select the application you want to force quit, then click the blue "Force Quit" button on the bottom of the screen.
From time to time the dock or button combination force quit does not work. When this happens you need to dive deeper into the system and force the Mac to quit the application. The next best option to utilize is going into the Activity Monitor. This is a great tool that shows you what kind of system resources different applications are using (and even which applications are running in the background. You might find some software remnants or even viruses here that you need to take care of).
To load the Activity Monitor the easiest way is to click the search icon in the upper right corner of your Mac window, then type "Activity Monitor" and choose the app selection. A new window will appear with all the different applications running.
Now, find the program that is running, select it and then Control click the selection. This will bring up a new text window that asks if you're sure you want to quit the process. Choose the "Force Quit" option to force quit the application
Terminal Force Quit
If neither of the options work your last option is to go into the Termain and force quit from here. This likely means you have a serious problem with the application. It may also mean you have a virus on the system because the other methods should have worked. The Terminal force quit is a last ditch effort that goes into the system and essentially "kills" the running file.
To perform this process on how to force quit Mac apps, you'll want to press "Command" and "Spacebar" to launch the Spotlight Search feature. Then, select "Terminal."
A new window will load with a host of odd looking lines of text. You'll want to type:
and then press "Enter."
This will bring up all the running application names, plus a series of numbers next to it. Scroll through the listing of applications until you find the application that is not responding. Write down the number that is next to it. This is known as the PID number.
Now, choose the command option within the window and type the following:
Where it says "PID number" you'll want to type the application number here. Make sure this is correct, otherwise you run the risk of killing off a different application or other important system files you need to keep in place. Execute the command and the program will stop.
You now need to perform the system scan to see what all new patches and files are available. You should never have to force quit an application from the Terminal, so if you find yourself here there's likely a bigger issue you're dealing with (or you downloaded an application from a third-party source and the program is extremely buggy and was never approved by Apple to run on a Mac). Whatever the issue, it's best to fix it before attempting to run it again on your computer.
When it comes to your Mac computer, it is important for you to know the ins and outs of how it works. This includes learning how to force quit Mac apps. There will be times where an application just doesn't work correctly. It usually isn't a major issue and it might just require a computer restart to fix everything (or at the very least, an update from the software developer). You need to know what to do should it happen though as eventually it will happen. By following these steps on how to force quit Mac apps, you'll be able to restore correct functionality to the device without any issue.