How to Force Quit an App on an iMac or Macbook

One of the most effective ways to fix issues with applications is to force close them. As opposed to minimizing or closing an app, the Force Quit option kills all processes, even for applications that are frozen and will not respond.

How to Force Quit an App on an iMac or Macbook

Forcing an unresponsive app to quit on your Mac is a quick and effective way to stop a program from loading or one that’s running too slow. It may be an app that wants to stay open all the time or one that just isn’t responding, but either way, it can be incredibly frustrating.

There are a few ways to force close an app on a Mac, and we’ll review each one of them in this article.

How to Force Quit an App on macOS

Although the instructions may vary depending on which version of macOS you’re running (Big Sur, Catalina, etc.), force quitting an application is relatively simple. There are several ways to force quit an app on macOS. We will cover those in this section.

Close an Application

Before we dive into other methods, let’s first ensure that you are properly closing the application. Every app that is open on your Mac is displayed at the bottom of your screen. This is referred to as the ‘Dock.’ You can attempt to close the app by following these steps:

  1. Use the ‘control’ button and the mouse or trackpad to click on the app.
  2. While holding down the Option key, you’ll notice that ‘Quit’ will change to ‘Force-Quit.’ The app will automatically shut down once you click on the ‘Force-Quit’ option.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work. You may receive an error, or the app may not respond. If that’s the case, don’t worry. We have the fixes for you below.

Method 1 – Use the Apple Menu

One of the easier and more universal options to force quit an app is using the Apple menu. What’s nice about this option is that regardless of how the application is behaving (it’s using all of your RAM, it’s unresponsive, etc.), it will quickly close the problem application. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Make sure the troublesome application is active, on top of the other apps your Mac is running. You will see the name of the app in the far, upper left corner.
  2. Click on the Apple icon in the far, upper right-hand corner.
  3. In the dropdown menu, click Force Quit [Name of App].
  4. Highlight the application that you want to force quit. Then, click Force Quit in the lower right-hand corner.
  5. A small pop-up window will appear asking you to confirm you’d like to force quite that application. Click Force Quit.

Once you’ve completed these steps, the problem application will close. Now, you can choose to reopen the application and continue working. Depending on which application you are working with, it may give you the option to restore where you left off.

Method 2 – Use Activity Monitor to Shut Down an App

For anyone who isn’t familiar with how Activity Monitor works, it’s very comparable to the ‘Task Manager’ in Windows or ‘System Monitor’ for Linux users. Essentially, you can easily control all processes and apps from the Activity Monitor.

To use Activity Monitor to force an app to shut down:

  1. Open ‘Finder‘ from your Dock.
  2. Click ‘Applications‘ then ‘Utilities.’
  3. Click on ‘Activity Monitor.’
  4. Click the ‘Energy Tab‘ and double-click the app.
  5. Click ‘Quit.’

Note: If for any reason, you have trouble finding the Activity Monitor application, you can use your Mac’s Spotlight function to find it quickly. All you need to do is press the Command+Space Bar key on your keyboard and type Activity Monitor in the search bar.

We like this method for those times when you aren’t sure which application is having problems. While your web browser may not be responding, it could be due to a glitch with another app on your Mac. The Activity Monitor will show you which application is acting up.

Method 3 – Use a Shortcut on the Keyboard

For anyone who prefers to use a simple, basic shortcut on the keyboard to force-quit a program, it’s a very straightforward process. This process is very similar to method one listed above. However, it is a shortcut.

First, choose which application is unresponsive and then bring it to the forefront. Do this by simply right-clicking on the target app icon shown in the Dock and then choosing ‘Show/Show All/Show All Windows’ according to which app isn’t responding.

Once the specific app is showing in the foreground, subsequently hold down the keys ‘Command’ plus ‘Option’ plus ‘Shift’ plus ‘Escape’ for just a few seconds to force the app to close.

Using any one of these five methods should solve your problem by instantly closing the unresponsive app on your system so you can get back to work right away.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some more answers to help our Mac users force close applications.

I keep having the same problems with one app. What should I do?

If you have one app that keeps freezing and you’re forced to quit it often, there could be a number of reasons. First, check that the app is up-to-date with the newest version. If it is, then check that your Mac OS X device is also running the latest version. If you’re running a more recent version of an app but an older version of macOS, the two may not work well together.

If everything is up-to-date as it should be, either check that the app comes from a trusted developer (it likely does on a Mac) then try reinstalling it. But, if you’re still experiencing issues, you may want to reach out for further support from the App’s developers or Apple.

What is the keyboard shortcut to force quit an app?

Mac’s version of CTRL-Alt-Delete is “command+option+esc,” which will access a pop-up menu of apps running. If the app you’re having trouble with is already on your screen, this shortcut will take you directly to the app.

Does the “Force Quit” affect the application?

The answer depends on the app and what you’re doing with it. If the app is in the middle of an update, it may cause some problems where you just need to uninstall then reinstall it.

If you’re working on the app and haven’t saved your progress, you will likely lose all of your progress.

My entire screen is frozen. What can I do?

If the app you’re struggling with is inaccessible because your entire computer is frozen, you can do a force restart on your Mac. To do this, you can either hold down the power button and wait for it to turn off. Then, wait for 30-seconds to turn it back on. It should resolve the issue.

Or, you can use the command+control buttons while holding the power button. Wait for a moment after it’s completely powered down, then hold the power button to bring your system back to life.

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