How to Force Quit on a Mac (With Photos)

macbook air

How to Force Quit on a Mac (With Photos)

Are you having a technical issue and can’t get an app to close on your Mac? Perhaps the app is taking up all your system’s resources and you can’t even open a new app. Many times you can’t right-click on the app in the Dock and close it. Then, the X button doesn’t work either. So, how do you force quit on a Mac when nothing else works?

Don’t become too frustrated just yet. The following steps will show you every possible way to force quit on a Mac — from keyboard shortcuts to a force restart. We’ll have you back to work in no time!

How to Force Quit on a Mac Using a Keyboard Shortcut

Are you watching your cursor turn into a little rainbow wheel, just spinning and spinning, unable to click on anything? While all of our steps below require you to use your cursor and click around on your screen, we’d like to mention the keyboard shortcut first.

If you can’t click on anything, push these buttons on your Mac to Force Quit the current app:

Option + Command + Esc

This shortcut should kill the problem app. If it doesn’t, keep reading, because we’ll help you force quit any application on your Mac.

How to Force Quit on a Mac

The term “Force Quit” refers to forcing an application or process to stop running entirely. As opposed to simply exiting an app, this closes all background processes despite what the app wants (such as Microsoft Word not closing because it wants you to save your document).

Force quit is most useful when an app crashes or becomes unresponsive. Essentially, that means the app isn’t acting right, and the only option is to force it closed. The next several steps will walk you through how to force quit processes on your Mac.

Step 1: Click the App

If you can, click the questionable application, so it appears on top of everything else.

Helpful Hint: This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it does put your app at the top of the Force Quit list in the following steps.

Force Quit Mac
Click on the problematic app so it appears on top of everything else on your screen.

Step 2: Click the Apple Icon

Your Mac’s Force Quit option is in the Apple Menu. So, click the Apple icon to access the drop-down menu.

Force Quit Mac
The Apple icon is located in the top left-hand corner of the screen.

Step 3: Click Force Quit

In the drop-down menu, you’ll see several options. Click the Force Quit option to open the Force Quit menu.

Force quit Mac
The Force Quit option is about halfway down in the drop-down menu on the left-hand side of your screen.

Step 4: Ensure the App is Selected

Every app currently running on your Mac will appear in the list. Ensure the app you want to close is selected. It will be highlighted blue while the rest are grey.

Force quit Mac
The app you want to close should be highlighted blue.

Step 5: Click Force Quit

At the bottom of the pop-up window, click Force Quit.

Your app should close instantly, but it may take a few seconds.

Force quit Mac
Click the blue Force Quit button located at the bottom of the pop-up window.

How to Check Which Apps to Force Quit on Mac

Sometimes an app or process hangs up, affecting every app you have running. This makes it hard to determine which app is the problem because they’re all misbehaving. However, there is a way to see which app is the culprit.

Hopefully, your Mac will let you click around without going too slowly. If it will, you can follow these steps to see which app is the problem.

Step 1: Open Finder

Your Mac’s Finder stores all of your computer’s information. This is where to find any applications, including photos and documents.

Click to open the Finder at the bottom of the screen in the Dock. It looks like a blue and white face.

Force quit Mac
The Finder icon is the blue and white face located in the Dock.

Step 2: Click Applications

A new window will open with a list of options to the left. You’ll see Recents, Downloads, and other options. Click the Applications tab in the left-side menu.

Force quit Mac
Select Applications from the window on the far left of your screen


Step 3: Click Utilities

Now, we need to access Utility apps. If your apps are in alphabetical order, which is the default, scroll to the bottom of the window and click Utilities.

Helpful Hint: The Utilities icon looks like a folder with tools on it.

Force quit Mac
Click on the blue Utilities folder near the bottom of your screen.

Step 4: Click Activity Monitor

Now, click the Activity Monitor. This app will show you what apps are running and how they’re functioning.

Force quit Mac
The Activity Monitor is located at the top of your Utilities icons.

Step 5: Investigate the Problem App

Now, click the Memory tab at the top. The application that appears first is the one taking up the majority of your Mac’s memory and, therefore, the one we should try to force quit first.

You can also check the CPU tab and Energy tab for problems. Some apps hog your Mac’s RAM (Memory), while others tax the CPU to the point that nothing else can function correctly.

Finally, follow the steps above to force quit the malfunctioning app on your Mac.

Force quit Mac
At the top of your screen, select the Memory tab to see which application is using the most memory.

How to Force Restart a Mac

If none of our steps are possible because your Mac isn’t responding, you may want to consider a force restart. However, when possible, the best way to restart your Mac is to click the Apple icon, then click Restart.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to do a force restart when your Mac isn’t responding. Press the power button until your Mac turns off. Then wait 30 seconds and restart it. It may take a moment for your computer to boot up, but the issue shouldn’t happen again.

Helpful Hint: Remember that any unsaved work gets deleted during this process.

May the Force Quit be With You

Hopefully, if you were having some sort of technical issue, we resolved it! Whether it be a force quit or a force restart, shutting down a problem app or process typically fixes our problems and gets us back to work!

Sometimes force quit on our Mac doesn’t work; that’s when we need to restart the entire system with a force restart. If an app won’t close, force quit is the way to go! You can use the keyboard shortcut or follow the Apple icon path to bypass any pop-ups and close the app, making it much easier and faster.

Check out the video below for a quick visual guide to the methods in this post.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does it hurt to force quit an app on a Mac?

It won’t hurt your Mac or the app to force quit. However, you will lose any unsaved work. If the app isn’t responding, it’s your only option aside from waiting it out. If the app crashed, though, waiting it out won’t work either.

Should I send a report to Apple?

When an application malfunctions on a Mac, you’ll receive a pop-up asking if you want to send a report to Apple. The only thing this does is let Apple developers know there was a problem.

If several users submit reports, it’s more likely to be addressed. When several users have the same problem, the developers can track and fix it. Essentially, submitting a report doesn’t hurt anything, and it can help get things fixed in the long run.

What do I do if my Mac won't respond?

If your Mac isn’t responding to your cursor movements and you can’t click on anything, try using the Option + Command + Esc keyboard shortcut to access the Force Quit menu quickly.

If that doesn’t work, hold the power button until your Mac shuts down.

How do I force restart a MacBook Pro with the finger print scanner?

Those who’ve upgraded to the newest MacBooks will notice there isn’t a power button. At least not in the traditional sense. The fingerprint scanner is your power button. So, hold that down until your computer turns off.

Then, press it again to boot it up.

Why did my app stop responding?

Sometimes apps just crash, but there are underlying reasons. Perhaps your app needs an update to patch bugs or security risks. Maybe you have too many tabs open or too many apps running at the same time.

Using the steps outlined above to access the Mac’s activity monitor will give you more insight into why your app crashed. If the same app keeps having problems, check for an update or uninstall and reinstall it.

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