7 Ways to Force Quit Mac Applications
Do you need to force quit an unresponsive Mac app? Is your Mac seeing the infamously dreaded spinning beachball of death? Is an app failing to respond to any input? Maybe you have an errant process or two? When any of the above happens, you’ll probably want to forcibly quit the application in question, and that’s what we’ll cover with this walkthrough, showing you how to force quit apps on a Mac with seven different methods.
Whatever your skill level with Mac, you’ll find a way to forcibly exit out of an app. Read on to learn more!
How to Force Quit Mac Apps: 7 Different Ways
Take a moment to review the tricks below, and then remember a few keyboard shortcuts or sequences now to save yourself a hassle later if you find yourself in a situation where you need to force quit a Mac app. And yes, these tricks work in all versions of Mac OS and Mac OS X.
1) Use a Keyboard Shortcut for “Force Quit Applications” on Mac
Starting with one of the best and easiest is the system wide Force Quit function: Hit Command+Option+Escape from anywhere to bring up the simple “Force Quit Applications” window, then click on the app name to select, followed by clicking the “Force Quit” button, this will end the app immediately.
Think of this as a simplified version of Activity Monitor, and it’s also a great keystroke to remember to use since it allows for quickly ceasing multiple apps. If you’re going to remember nothing else for force quitting apps in Mac OS X, remember this keystroke: Command + Option + Escape
That Force Quit keyboard shortcut is probably the best combination of easy and power when force quitting apps in Mac OS X, since you can access it with a keystroke, select and force quit multiple apps if necessary, and summon it from anywhere.
2) Force Quit Currently Active Mac App with the Keyboard
Hold down Command+Option+Shift+Escape for a second or two until the app forcibly closes. Be sure to do this while the app you want to force quit is the foremost application on the Mac, as it will force quit whatever is active when held down.
This is not well known, but offers perhaps the quickest way to force quit the foreground application in Mac OS X and a very good keyboard shortcut to remember.
3) Force Quitting Apps from the Dock
Option + Right Click on an apps icon in the Dock to bring up the “Force Quit” option, selecting this will kill the app without any confirmation.
4) Force Quit an App from the Apple Menu
Hold the Shift Key and click on the Apple menu to find “Force Quit [Application Name]”.
This is easy to remember but not necessarily the most powerful method, since sometimes an application is completely unresponsive and the menus are inaccessible.
5) Use Activity Monitor to Force Quit Apps
Activity Monitor is a powerful way to forcibly quit any app, task, daemon, or process running on Mac OS X. You can find it in /Applications/Utilities/ or open it from Spotlight with Command+Space and then type ‘Activity Monitor’ and the return key. Using Activity Monitor is very easy: Select the process name or ID you wish to kill (unresponsive apps will usually appear as red), and hit the red “Quit Process” button.
You can think of this as the Mac equivalent to a task manager from the Windows world and a more complex version of the second tips Force Quit window. If one of the previous methods fails, this will almost certainly work.
6) Using the Terminal & kill Command
If all else fails, using the command line is a surefire way to force an app or process to quit by issuing the low-level kill command. Launch the Terminal and type one of the following commands:
For example, “killall Safari” would kill all instances of the Safari process. If you know the process id, which you can find with the ps or ‘ps aux’ command. Aim kill at that process specifically:
kill -9 [pid]
The kill commands will take out just about anything, and sometimes have the side effect of not honoring Versions, Window Restore, and Auto-Save, so be cautious of potential data loss.
7) Use the command line pkill command
Another option for command line users is the pkill command, which works similar to the kill command to forcibly exit and close applications and processes.
pkill is nice because, similar to ‘killall’, you can specify an application name or process name. For example:
Will forcibly quit out of Safari on the Mac.
pkill can be used for both GUI apps and command line processes.
What’s your preferred method of forcibly quitting an app? Mine is the Command+Option+Escape trick, or by using Activity Monitor, but I often turn to the command line for more complex situations.
Remember, when you force quit an app, you will lose any unsaved data in that application. Don’t forget that.
Bonus Force Quit Tips
You can also force quit several Mac apps at the same time if you find yourself in a situation requiring that.
Mac users without an ESC key will instead need to get accustomed to force quitting with Touch Bar, which can sometimes be a few extra steps to access the escape option.
Rebooting a Mac will also initiate soft quit, but if you force reboot a Mac or turn it off, then it will basically force quit out of apps as well – that’s pretty extreme though so it’s best to avoid that method for quitting any app as it’s not intended for really anything other than a totally frozen Mac.
This obviously covers the Mac, but from the iOS side of things, you can force quit apps on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, as well, depending on the version of iOS and the iOS device itself. Swiping up from the bottom of the screen on a new device and then swiping up to discard the app will force quit on any new iPhone or iPad, and older models can force quit by double-pressing Home button to then initiate the quit app process. And finally, much older iOS versions can accomplish this by holding down the Power button until the slide to power option appears, and then hold the Home button until the app closes.
Do you have any other tips or tricks for force quitting Mac apps? Share with us in the comments below!