How to Close an Unresponsive Program on Mac.
Your Mac’s pointer changes to a spinning rainbow wheel when a program becomes unresponsive. Sometimes just waiting a bit is enough to fix the problem. If waiting does not resolve the hung program, you may need to take additional steps. Here’s how to close unresponsive programs on Mac.
Note The instructions in this guide apply to all laptop and Mac models, and all versions of macOS.
Quit vs. Force Quit: What’s the Difference?
In this post, you will often see the terms Logout and Force Logout (or Force Logout). Some Mac users assume that both terms mean the same thing. But when you “close” and “force quit” an app, macOS handles quitting the app in a completely different way.
What does exiting the application do?
When you exit the application or click the “Close” button on the application window, you close it in the usual way. However, macOS may not immediately close the app. Instead, the application is left to run its own shutdown routines – if it has them. The procedure for shutting down an application may include performing current tasks and saving unsaved changes or settings to disk.
Also, macOS may not close an app if closing it would interfere with another app or cause data to be lost.
You may have to wait a few seconds or a few minutes for the app to close normally. The waiting period will depend on the shutdown procedures running in the background.
What happens when you force close the application?
Forced exit from the application may result in data loss. You should always close the application normally. This is safe and highly recommended as it reduces the chance of data loss. Force quit the app only when it freezes or is not responding.
Now let’s show different ways to deal with an unresponsive application on your laptop or Mac computer.
1. Use Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts offer the fastest way to fix Mac or Mac apps freezing when they stop responding.
Press Command + Q on your keyboard and wait a few seconds until the application closes normally. Force close the app if it remains on the screen.
Press Shift + Option + Command + Esc to immediately force quit an unresponsive application.
Or press Command + Option + Esc. A new window will open where you can force close unresponsive apps. Select an application and click the force exit button.
2. From the Apple Menu
There is an alternative way to open the Force Quit Applications window if your Mac keyboard is not working.
Select the Apple logo from the menu bar – see upper left corner of the screen. After that, choose Force Quit from the Apple menu to open the Force Quit window.
After that, select the application and click on the “Force Quit” button.
You can instantly close an unresponsive program from the Apple menu without opening the Force Quit Applications window.
When the app stops responding, open the Apple menu, hold down the Shift key, and choose Force Quit [App Name].
For example, to close Apple Music, select the Apple logo in the menu bar, hold down the Shift key, and select Force Quit Music.
3. From the Dock
Close the app from the Dock if it’s not responding after exiting it with a keyboard shortcut. Or if the window closes but the app remains open in the background. A small dot below an app in the Dock means the app is still running in the background.
Right-click or Control-click the application icon in the Dock and select Exit.
Wait a minute and open the app again. Force quit the app if it still doesn’t work properly or is not responding. Press and hold the Option key, right-click the application icon and select Force Quit.
4. Force Quit App from the Activity Monitor
Activity Monitor is the macOS version of Task Manager on Windows devices. In addition to monitoring your Mac’s CPU, memory, power, and network usage, Activity Monitor can force quit unresponsive apps and processes.
Read our detailed Activity Monitor review to learn more about this utility and its features. Here’s how to close and force close the app in Activity Monitor:
Launch Finder, select Applications in the sidebar and open the Utilities folder.
Double-click Activity Monitor.
On the CPU tab, select the unresponsive application and click the Stop (x) icon in the toolbar.
Pro tip. Can’t find an unresponsive application in a long list of processes? Enter the name of the app in the Activity Monitor search bar – see upper right corner.
Select Exit to close the hung application.
Reopen the application without closing the Activity Monitor window. If the application hangs again, select Force Exit to close the application and any dependent or supporting processes.
5. Use Terminal
Terminal is a multi-purpose utility in the Mac operating system. You can use this tool to open files/folders, refresh your Mac, close unresponsive applications, and so on.
Here’s how to use the Terminal to close frozen apps:
Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities and double-click Terminal.
Alternatively, open Spotlight search (Command + space), type terminal in the search bar, and select Terminal.
The next step is to look for the process ID (or process ID or PID) of the application that is not responding. A PID is a unique identifier (such as a fingerprint) assigned to active or running applications on your Mac. No two applications have the same process ID.
Type top in the terminal console and press Return on your keyboard.
This will open a table of running programs and processes on your Mac. Check the “COMMAND” and “PID” columns and note down the name and process ID of the unresponsive program.
Press q on your keyboard to close the table. After that, type kill, press space, enter the PID of the application, and press Return. The command should look like this: kill PID, where PID is the process ID of the application.
This will immediately terminate the application and its processes on your Mac.
Last Resort: Close and Reopen All Applications
Sign out of your macOS account if the app still freezes intermittently or if all open apps are unresponsive.
Press Shift + Command + Q, check the “Reopen windows when you log back in” checkbox in the field, and select “Log out” in the pop-up window.
Sign in to your Mac and check if the apps work when reopened. Restart your Mac if the problem with apps persists. Some third-party cleaning and optimization tools can also help close unresponsive programs on your Mac.
How to Close an Unresponsive Program on Mac
How to Close an Unresponsive Program on Mac