How to Force Quit on Windows in Easy Steps (with Photos)

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How to Force Quit on Windows in Easy Steps (with Photos)

Computers are essential equipment that follow commands to the letter. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. 

A program in your PC may get unresponsive and no longer responds to the commands. At times, Windows may inform you that the program isn’t responding and give you options to either end it, close the program, or wait for it to respond. In other cases, your screen may just gray out, and you cannot exit the program.

If this is your case, you will need to force quit the program, and here is how to do it.

What Does it Mean to Force to Quit a Program?

Force quit means to force an unresponsive program to shut down. When terminating a program manually, you click on the X at the top right corner of the screen. However, when a program is unresponsive, it is impossible to tap the X. 

In this case, you will need to force the program to quit through other methods, like using special keys. Remember that force-quit methods don’t prompt you to save your work. Therefore, you’re likely to lose any unsaved work if you force quit the program. 

Force quitting is done when it is impossible to manually shut down a program, especially when the whole operating system hangs and becomes unresponsive. You may also consider force-quitting a program if you need to close some apps occupying too much CPU space. This makes the PC function better and faster. 

8 Common Reasons Why Computers Hang

Although you can force quit and exit a hanging program, it becomes inconvenient if you force quit repeatedly. Knowing why your PC hangs can help you get a permanent solution.

Let’s talk about some of the common reasons below.

There Are Too Many Apps Running

Although computers are good multitaskers, too many tasks at a time can freeze some programs, especially if the computer has a small RAM and cannot handle too many tasks simultaneously. Programs that are likely to hang take up too much CPU space. You can check the percentage usage of various apps on the task manager. 

programs taking up space
Check the programs that are taking up space on your PC.


There Are Driver Issues

If your drivers are outdated or damaged, your PC will keep hanging. You can check the Windows device manager to see all devices connected. If there is an exclamation mark alongside any device, this is the driver with an issue.

Operating System Issues

When was the last time you updated your operating system? Additionally, is the Windows version that you are using legal?

Uninstalled updates and illegal operating systems are common reasons for unresponsive programs. 

Insufficient RAM 

The smaller the RAM of your computer, the smaller the digital countertop you have to work on. This will make apps on your computer run slower. Besides, some apps you may install take up too much of your RAM, making the computer operate slowly. Therefore, upgrade your RAM to reduce hanging on your computer. 

Heavy Programs on the PC

Some programs you may have installed on the PC may be too heavy for your computer’s specifications. Most apps inform you of the storage space they will take once installed. Avoid forcing an app that is too heavy for your computer. If you recently installed a program, and your PC has been hanging ever since, consider uninstalling it. 

Excess Heat

If your computer’s temperature is higher than it should be, it may freeze and become unresponsive. You can tell whether your system is overheating if there is abnormal noise or a high squealing. 

External Devices 

Any faulty external devices installed on the computer may affect the system’s functioning and cause hanging. Try removing all peripheral devices one at a time and see whether the hanging stops. Additionally, update your USB drivers. 

Viruses and Malware

If your computer is affected by viruses, it may corrupt some programs or the operating system, making it hang often. 

4 Common Ways to Force Quit on Windows

Regardless of why a program is unresponsive, a force restart is always a solution before dealing with the core of the problem. There are various ways through which you can force quit your Windows PC. 

Let’s break them down below.

#1: Use the Alt+F4 Keys

You can use this keyboard shortcut to close a program in seconds. When using this shortcut, ensure that you select the Window that you intend to close. Otherwise, you may force quit the wrong Window or shut down the computer.

After selecting the Window, press Alt + F4 to quit. 

force quit windows
Click Alt + F4.


If your mouse is frozen and you cannot select the frozen Window, use Alt+tab space to select it. 

#2: Use the Task Manager

You can close the unresponsive app through your task manager using these steps:

Step 1: Click on Control + Alt + Delete.

force quit windows
Click Ctrl + Alt + Delete.


Step 2: On the screen that opens, scroll down to the Task Manager option.

force quit windows
Select Task Manager from the menu.


Step 3: After the task manager opens, you’ll get a list of the running apps.

force quit windows
You will get a list of applications.


Step 4: You can click on more details to see the percentage of CPU space that the running programs are using.

If a program uses almost 100%, it will most likely hang. 

force quit windows
Click on More details to get the full usage breakdown.


Step 5: Right-click on the unresponsive program and click on End task, instantly closing the unresponsive app.

force quit windows
Right-click the unresponsive program and click End task from the menu options.


Alternatively, you can open the task manager by right-clicking on the taskbar and scrolling down to task manager. 

force quitting windows
Right-click and navigate to the Task Manager.


#2: Use the Command Prompt

Step 1: Open the command prompt on your PC by typing “cmd” in the search bar, then click OK.

You can also use Windows+R to run the command prompt.

force quitting windows
Type in “cmd” in the Run program, then click OK.


Step 2: Once the Command Prompt opens, type in “tasklist.”

force quitting windows
Type in “tasklist.”


Step 3: Next, type “taskkill/im{name _of_program}.exe” to kill the unresponsive program.

For instance, if the task you want to kill is Excel, you will type “taskkill/im Excel.exe,” then press enter. 

force quitting windows
Type in “taskkill/im [program name].exe.” For example, if you’re trying to quit Excel, type in “taskkill/im excel.exe”


On pressing enter, the program is terminated, and you get a message to confirm this, which reads “Sent termination signal to the process “[program name].EXE” with PID [number].”

#4: Use the Desktop Shortcuts

The desktop shortcut is an alternative to use when you don’t want to open the command prompt and type in the command. It executes the taskkill command without having to open it yourself. 

Below are the steps to follow.

Step 1: On your desktop, right-click on an empty space, scroll down to New, then Shortcut.

force quitting windows
Right-click anywhere that is an empty space on your desktop, scroll down to New, then click Shortcut.


Step 2: When prompted to enter a location, type in “taskkill /f /fi “status eq not responding.”

“Taskkill” is the command used when you need to terminate a program.

“F” forces windows to force quit the program, while “Fi” allows you to set the program’s criteria that you wish to force quit.

“Status eq not responding” is the criteria used to close the program. Without it, the command will close all running programs. 

Step 3: After entering the command, click Next.

taskkill /f /fi “status eq not responding”
Click Next.


Step 4: Create a name for the shortcut, then click Finish.

You can give it any name and click finish.

taskkill /f /fi “status eq not responding”
Name your shortcut, then click Finish.


When you have this command on your desktop, you can force quit any frozen program. To do this, double-click on the shortcut. Save it on the desktop for easy and fast access.

Otherwise, you can create a keyboard shortcut to run the command you created. 

To do this:

  1. Right-click on the shortcut created and scroll down to Properties.
  2. From Properties, scroll down to the shortcut key and press any letter. Windows automatically adds Ctrl + Alt to any letter you press.
  3. Set run to Minimized and press OK. By setting run to Minimized, there won’t be a disrupting flash of the app when you open the shortcut. With this shortcut, every time you need to force quit a program, you will only press ctrl+alt+(the key you selected). 
taskkill /f /fi “status eq not responding”
Go to Properties, then Shortcut, then type a letter into the Shortcut Key field, set run to Minimized, then click OK.


Wrapping Up

If you have an unresponsive program on your computer, you can force quit it and maybe open it again. However, before force quitting, remember that you are likely to lose any data you had not saved in the program. 

Use any of the methods mentioned above to exit the program. Otherwise, you can get third-party apps and use them to quit the program. If programs on your PC are constantly freezing, get a permanent solution by first identifying the root of the problem. 

Check out the video below for a quick visual guide on how to force quit on Windows.

Up Next:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is force quit risky to your PC?

Force quit is not risky to your computer hardware. However, it may corrupt some software and files. Moreover, you don’t get a prompt to save any unsaved work. Strive to use force quit as your last solution.

How can I force quit if the mouse isn’t responding?

If your mouse isn’t responding, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+Delete or Alt+F4 to force quit the program. Use the keyboard navigation keys to navigate through the options.

Why is the Alt+F4 function not working on my PC?

If the Alt+F4 function isn’t working, try restarting your computer. If it is still not working, check whether it has been disabled in Windows settings. If everything is ok and it still doesn’t work, try holding Fn for a few seconds and then try Alt+F4 again. If it still doesn’t work, your keyboard may have a problem.

Why does my PC keep hanging?

If your PC keeps hanging, it probably has hardware and software issues, issues with memory, or is overheating. It is best to visit a trusted technician to identify and fix any issues with your computer.

What if a program has refused to force quit?

If a program has refused to force quit, try rebooting or shutting down the computer. You can force shutdown by long pressing the power button if it does not shut down manually.

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