If you run macOS, 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 Mac 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 macOS’ Force Quit command. Force-quitting an app removes it from memory and macOS will try to purge any claimed resources, if 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.
Step 2: A contextual menu will open. Press and hold the Option key. The word Quit will change to Force Quit. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
- How to force quit an iPhone or iPad app
- How to force quit an Apple Watch app
- Our archive of Mac tips
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