Force Quit Applications

If you run OS X Yosemite, you’re going to run into issues when a misbehaving app like Safari eats up system resources while refusing to quit the normal way. On iOS, it’s easy to force-quit any app iPhone or iPad app, and watchOS also provides a similar shortcut for purging an unresponsive task from its memory.

As it turns out, you can also force-quit any OS X app just as easily. Please take a minute to check out Apple’s easy to remember shortcuts for force-quitting apps. They’ll come in handy when an app starts to slow your system to a crawl or gets wacky to the point when force-quitting is the only remaining option left.

In this post, I’m going to teach you two methods of force-quitting a Mac app.

If an app isn’t responding, or is unresponsive or has monopolized system resources, you can force it to close using OS X’s Force Quit command. Force-quitting an app removes it from memory and OS X will try to purge any claimed resources, of possible.

As a result, your Mac and apps will perform and multitask more smoothly.

How to force quit Mac app using Dock

Step 1: Locate the unresponsive app in the Dock and right click on its icon.

Force Quit app from dock

Step 2: A contextual menu will open. Choose Force Quit to close the app.

How to force quit Mac app using Finder

Step 1: Choose the Force Quit option in the Finder’s Apple menu.

Force Quit from Finder

Step 2: Select the unresponsive app in the Force Quit window, then click Force Quit.

How to force quit Mac app using keyboard shortcut

Step 1: Press Option (⌥)-Command (⌘)-Esc on the keyboard to bring up the Force Quit window. This is similar to pressing Control-Alt-Delete on a PC.

Force Quit Applications

Step 2: Select the offending app in the Force Quit window and click the blue Force Quit button to end the process.

Tip: If the app quit, you can reopen it by clicking Reopen in the dialog that appears.

In case you were wondering, you may lose any unsaved changes after force-quitting an app. “Generally, you shouldn’t need to use Force Quit unless you can’t close an app normally,” cautions Apple.

Common tips

If the app freezes upon reopening—and force-quitting won’t do any god—there are several additional things worth trying out that may help rectify the situation.

Restart your Mac

Sometimes force-quitting the misbehaving app wouldn’t release system resources it’s claimed to itself.

RTFW

Yes, read the bloody documentation that came with your app to see if it’s compatible with your version of OS X or if there are any known issues you should know about.

Open another file

The file you’re trying to open may be causing the app to break. If there’s indeed a problem with the original file, try opening another one.

Check your Mac for updates

Choose App Store from the Finder’s Mac menu to open the Mac App Store. Now hit the Updates tab to see if there are any crucial updates available for OS X or your apps. If the misbehaving app was obtained outside the Mac App Store, visit its developer’s website to see if there are any updates available.

Disconnect peripheral devices

You may have just connected a peripheral device like a printer, a USB thumb drive or external storage that may not be compatible with your version of OS X.

Double-check your plug-ins

Some apps install kernel extensions that may cause the system or the app to misbehave. Other apps may install plug-ins or other enhancements. If all else fails, try disabling/uninstalling any plug-ins or extensions one by one until the app starts working again. This is especially true if you have recently updated the app or OS X as your existing plug-ins or extensions may no longer be compatible.

Run Apple Diagnostics or Apple Hardware Test

These tools let you see if there’s a problem with your Mac’s memory, storage or other hardware features.

Restart your Mac in safe mode

It may help so why not give it a shot?

See also:

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  • Damian

    Very useful option+cmd+esc it will save you many times

    • option+cmd+shift+esc (directly force quit the selected app) saves the day for me… 🙂

  • bayoyong

    How do you get dark menus like that?

    • Matthew Murray

      In the system preferences, general.

  • Skoven

    You should also mention: right clicking on a dock icon, and then holding the “alt” key, will show the “force quit” instead of the regular “quit” – this can be handy if an app is responding very slowly, but not totally unresponsive (then the “force quit” will automatically show).
    I think this is a faster way to kill apps that run in the dock.
    To bad the “cmd” + “alt” + “esc” doesn’t show running menu bar apps…