Mac App Frozen? 9 Tips for How to Handle Freezing Mac Apps

Feb 22, 2021 - 5 Comments

Frozen Mac Apps Troubleshooting

Did one of your apps stop responding while you were working on a Mac? Perhaps you tried closing or quitting the app but to no avail? This can happen from time to time where an app freezes up or becomes unresponsive, and while it’s frustrating, there are multiple ways to fix frozen apps easily on the Mac.

MacOS works seamlessly without any hiccups for the most part, but sometimes apps may completely freeze and stop responding to user input or your actions. This can happen for any number of reasons where an app stops responding, whether the app is buggy, it’s overloaded, some component of the app isn’t functioning, the app is running on beta system software, or for no apparent reason at all. Regardless, there are some things that you can try to get the app to function properly again.

If you’re unable to get a frozen app working properly on your Mac, read on to learn some tips to troubleshoot and handle frozen apps on macOS machines.

Troubleshooting Frozen & Unresponsive Apps on Mac

Let’s take a look at the basic troubleshooting steps you can follow whenever one of the apps installed on your Mac becomes stuck, frozen, or unresponsive.

1. Force Quit the App

You may have tried closing the app window but that doesn’t really quit the app on your Mac, and the app itself may still be running, and of course if it’s frozen then attempting to do anything with the app may be unresponsive anyway. You can confirm this by looking for a tiny dot right below the app icon on your Mac’s Dock. Therefore, you’ll need to force quit the app and there’s more than one way to get this done. Note that by force quitting an app, any unsaved data in that app may be lost.

Click on the Apple logo from the menu bar and choose “Force Quit” from the dropdown menu. This will open a window where you’ll be able to select the application you want to force close.

An easier way to access the same would be by using the keyboard shortcut Option + Command + Esc.

Frozen Mac Apps Troubleshooting

There are actually a number of different ways to force quit Mac apps, so if these approaches don’t work for you or you just want to learn more, check that out too.

2. Relaunch the App

Now that you’ve managed to force close the app, you can try relaunching the app and see if it’s working fine as it’s supposed to (usually it does).

If it doesn’t work on the first attempt, right-click or Control-click on the app icon from the Dock and choose “Quit”, reboot the Mac, then try again. Open the app again and see if that fixed the issue.

The app should be running normally at this point, but if it doesn’t, there could be other issues, or perhaps the app itself needs to be updated..

Frozen Mac Apps Troubleshooting

3. Update the App

If you recently updated macOS to the latest version available, it’s possible that some apps haven’t been updated for that macOS version, or optimized to run properly on the new firmware or hardware (for example, an older app running on an Apple Silicon Mac). In such cases, you can check if there are any available updates for your apps.

Open “App Store” on your Mac from the Dock and click on “Updates” on the left pane. Here, you should be able to see all the available app updates. If there’s an update for the app you’re facing issues with, install it and launch the app to see if it’s working fine.

Frozen Mac Apps Troubleshooting

Note if the app was downloaded directly from a third party developer website rather than the App Store, updating the Mac app may be different. This is common with some apps from Adobe, Google, Microsoft, and smaller developers and vendors too. Some apps have built-in update mechanisms, while others require you to visit their website to install the latest version (VirtualBox, for example).

4. Reboot Your Mac

If the app is still unresponsive, even after you have quit and relaunched it, don’t give up just yet. Another thing to try is simply restarting your Mac. You may find this step silly, but most minor software-related bugs and glitches can be resolved by rebooting your device. There’s more than one way to reboot your Mac, but perhaps the simplest is with the Apple menu option.

You can click on the Apple logo from the menu bar and choose “Restart” from the dropdown menu.

Or, you can hold the power button on your Mac to bring up the shutdown menu where you’ll find the option to restart your device as well.

Frozen Mac Apps Troubleshooting

5. Check for Mac System Software Updates

If none of the above troubleshooting steps worked in your favor, you can check if you have any available software updates for your Mac and install them.

Simply go to System Preferences -> Software Updates on your Mac to see if there’s any new firmware.

6. Unenroll from Betas

If you’re on beta system software tracks for macOS, you might want to consider getting onto a stable public build instead. Beta system software is notoriously less stable than final versions, and it’s possible that is why the Mac app is freezing in the first place. You can unenroll your Mac from the beta and install the next final version whenever it’s available.

7. Contact the App Developer

Still couldn’t find a solution to the app freezing? You might need to get in touch with the app developer. If the app is unresponsive due to issues with a certain version of the app or incompatibility with a current macOS version, then perhaps the developer needs to push out an update before you can get it to work again.

8. Are you alone? Research the App Problem

Sometimes other users are having the same problem with the app freezing and you’re not alone, and this can offer solutions or leads as to what the issue is. Using web search (Google, DuckDuckGo, etc) to look for things like “(app name) freezing” can be helpful.

Also, going through public forums for the app to see if others are facing similar issues can be a useful resource too, whether on Apple Support forums, or elsewhere.

9. Is it system related?

If you feel like the issue is with macOS and not the app itself, you can contact Apple Support or talk to a live agent at Apple for further assistance.

Most app problems are not related to the Mac system software itself however, though it’s always a possibility.

We hope you managed to resolve the frozen app problem and get the Mac app to function properly again as intended. Which of the troubleshooting methods we discussed here worked for you? Did you find another solution to resolve an unresponsive Mac app? Do share your personal experiences, tips, suggestions, and advice in the comments section.

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Posted by: Hamlin Rozario in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

5 Comments

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  1. Darryl says:

    Resetting Parameter Ram can also do this, and clear up other junk as well.
    Restart, immediately hold down (Command-option P+R) through a couple chimes, releasing immediately after last chime.

  2. Rob says:

    Skype have provided this which has helped on Big Sur for me with their app freezing all the time:

    codesign –remove-signature /Applications/Skype.app/Contents/Frameworks/Skype\ Helper\ \(Renderer\).app/

  3. Daniel Good says:

    You need to tackle more complex problems.

    • saber says:

      Do you have any examples Daniel?

      Some apps crash differently but many follow the same themes; usually a bug or memory issues

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