6 ways to quit an app on your Mac

By , Jun 1, 2016

macbook pro 15

When it comes to OS X, closing apps is a little different than on Windows machines. Rather than closing the window, you have to actually quit the app, otherwise is stays running on your Mac even though the window has been closed.

Most Mac users are aware of how to quit an app on their Mac, but in this piece, we’ll be sharing six ways you can quit apps on your Mac so you can experiment with various app-quitting methods.

Quitting apps on your Mac

Although you could technically leave all your apps open in the background due to OS X’s power efficiency abilities, quitting your unused apps is a good idea if you’re not going to need to use them again for a while. This helps clean up your Dock and Desktop of unnecessary clutter and makes it easier to find what you’re looking for when you go to launch an app in the future.

You know an app is running when the icon is showing in the Dock and a black dot appears underneath the app icon, like this:

App running dot Mac

Alternatively, you might see the app showing in the Menu Bar instead of an app icon showing in the Dock.

There are multiple ways to quit apps on your Mac, and today we’ll be showing you six ways this can be done.

1) Menu Bar menu method

Perhaps the most widely-used method of quitting an app is by using the Menu Bar menu. I would expect most people find this to be one of the easiest ways to quit an app because it’s always easy to get to.

To quit an app from the Menu Bar, make sure the app you want to quit is running in the foreground, and click on the app’s name from the Menu Bar.

Quit Mac App From Menu Bar

Then, choose the “Quit” option from the drop-down menu. In this case, because we’re quitting the Mail app, we’ll go to Mail > Quit Mail from the Menu Bar on our Mac.

2) Dock app icon method

Possibly the second most popular way to quit an app on a Mac due to the ease of accessibility is from the Dock.

When an app is running, you can simply right-click on an app from the Mac’s application Dock and a pop-up menu appears.

Quit Mail App

From this pop-up menu, select the Quit option and the app will quit. Following this gesture, the black dot underneath the app should disappear, indicating the app has been terminated.

3) Keyboard shortcut method

Yet another way to quit apps on your Mac is with a humble keyboard shortcut.

With the app you want to quit running in the foreground, you can press Command ⌘ + Q on the keyboard simultaneously to quit the app.

Quit App With Keyboard Shortcut Mac

The keyboard shortcut method is a quick and effective way to quit apps, especially when your Mouse or Trackpad may not be responding.

4) Menu Bar icon method

Although we showed you how to quit apps from the Dock and Menu Bar menu, some apps don’t appear in the Dock at all, but instead show up as icons in the Menu Bar instead.

These apps typically don’t give you the option to quit from the Menu Bar menu either because the name never appears there, so there’s a different process involved and we’ll touch on that very quickly for you.

For this specific class of apps, you’ll just click on the icon from the Menu Bar and a drop-down menu will appear.

Quit Mac App Running in Menu Bar Icon

In this drop-down menu, you should be able to find a Quit option that will let you terminate the app.

This method really only applies to third-party apps you downloaded, but it’s good to know nonetheless.

5) Activity Monitor method

Your app comes with a utility called Activity Monitor, and it’s really useful for monitoring hardware and resource usage on your machine.

The app is also useful for quitting apps on your Mac. To use it, launch it from your Applications > Utilities folder and then click on the app in the application list that you want to quit.

Next, you’ll click on the quit button at the top left of the Activity Monitor window, and from the prompt that appears, you’ll click on the blue Quit button.

Quit Mac App From Activity Monitor

Afterwards, the app will be terminated, and you can repeat the process for any running processes or apps on your Mac.

Note: Because processes are shown here, in addition to apps, be mindful of what you quit.

6) Terminal method

The final method to quit apps on your Mac that we’ll be talking about today is using the Terminal’s command line interface.

Most people avoid the command line interface because it can be confusing and isn’t as pretty as a graphical user interface is, but by no means is it less effective at getting the job done.

When you want to quit an app using the Terminal, launch Terminal from the Applications > Utilities folder on your Mac.

In the Terminal, you’ll want to type the following command:

osascript -e ‘quit app “[insert app name here]”‘

You will replace the [insert app name here] text with the name of the app you wish to close. In this case, we’re quitting the Mail app, so we’ve replaced the text with Mail in the command.

Terminal app to quit apps on Mac

After you’re done typing the command, hit the Return key on your keyboard, and the app will be terminated.

Wrapping up

Chances are, if you’re a Mac user, you already know how to quit apps on your Mac, but hopefully you’ve picked up on an additional method or two after reading this piece that you can try next time you have to quit an app, or you can help spread the word to other novice Mac users.

Also read: How to force quit a Mac app that isn’t responding

Do you have a favorite way to quit an app on your Mac? Share in the comments!

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  • Michael Hulet

    As for the Terminal method, though I suspect the technical semantics of this are a bit different, it might be easier to run “sudo killall Mail” instead of proxying the request through the AppleScript interpreter

  • Ara Rezaee

    Command Q is my go to method. Force closing being my second favorite.

  • ShawnTXDFW

    I just ordered my first ever MacBook. I got just the regular MacBook and I’ll be able to pick it up Saturday. No Pro, No Air, just the new MacBook. Anyway any tips and tricks like this is greatly appreciated. I’m not even sure how to use Apples OS. Anyone have any other tips and tricks?! I’m sure I’ll have to just tinker with it and figure it out. Excited. Can’t wait to see what I might have been missing out on this whole time.

    • Tim

      MacOS is the same across all Macbook variants. You might want to learn to install/uninstall apps as a first step. You can use the App Store and just pick apps from there or you can google Mac Apps (They come in .zip or .dmg) packages. Also get AppCleaner to help you uninstall apps since there isn’t really a one stop solution (for 3rd party apps) in OS X. Also you might need to change permissions from system preferences to allow apps from anywhere to be installed.

    • Ara Rezaee

      It’s quite easy to use/learn, but if you are used to Win you’re gonna feel a little uncomfortable at first, don’t worry though you’ll love Mac once you get used to it. If you have any questions or whatever ask me here or on Facebook (same name, same profile pic)

  • Joaquim N.

    I have been using Command + Q for some time now and I can’t imagine myself doing any other way, it’s so simple and I don’t like to keep apps loaded on Dock. Keep it up with the good tips for Mac! Thank you!

  • FarmerBob_I

    Or bring up the Application Switcher (Command-Tab) and when you land on an icon and are keeping it up there by holding down the Command () key, just press Q. You can also do this in rapid fire to close many in one pass.