How to force quit on a Mac to close unresponsive apps

  • The force quit feature on Mac is an easy way to shut down troublesome applications in just a few steps.
  • Applications on your Mac will occasionally stop responding and lock up if your computer is overburdened.
  • There are a few quick steps to force quit an application without waiting for the rainbow wheel to stop or for your screen to unfreeze.

Mac users will tell you there are few things more frustrating than the spinning rainbow wheel – also known as the wait cursor, which signifies your computer is struggling to handle its current tasks.

When an application isn’t responding how it normally would, you could wait until your screen unfreezes. Sometimes, though, you don’t know how long that will take. The simplest thing to do when faced with the spinning wheel is to force quit the frozen application.

Force quit is a feature that effectively shuts down the unresponsive application. However, when using the force quit feature it is important to know that if your work isn’t saved, you may lose it when force quitting a frozen application like Microsoft Word or any web browser.

How to force quit on Mac from the Apple menu

  1. First, identify the app that is unresponsive. If you have multiple apps open, the simplest way to indicate the unresponsive app is to look at the cursor. If the cursor looks normal, the app is still responsive. If the cursor resembles the rainbow spinning wheel, the app is unresponsive.
  2. Once you’ve identified the unresponsive app, locate the taskbar at the top of your screen. In the far left, select the Apple logo to access the dropdown menu.
  3. In the dropdown menu, select “Force Quit…”
    How to force quit on a Mac to close unresponsive apps
    Click on “Force Quit….”Meira Gebel/Insider
  4. A new window will pop up with all the applications you have open on your Mac. Select the application you wish to force quit. If you want to force quit more than one application, use the Command to select multiple.
    How to force quit on a Mac to close unresponsive apps
    Force quit the application that is unresponsive.Meira Gebel/Insider
  5. Next, select Force Quit. A pop-up will remind you that any unsaved changes won’t be saved.
    How to force quit on a Mac to close unresponsive apps
    Select “Force Quit.”Meira Gebel/Insider

How to force quit on Mac with a keyboard shortcut

If you have trouble accessing the Apple icon in the taskbar, use the keyboard shortcut Option + Command + Esc and then follow the steps above.

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How to force quit on Mac using Activity Monitor

A Mac’s Activity Monitor is an easy way to locate troublesome applications, see how significantly energy or CPU power they are using, and force them to quit.

  1. First, launch Activity Monitor. You can do this by using the Spotlight feature (Command + Space) or by going to Finder > Applications > Activity Monitor.
  2. Once Activity Monitor is open, find and select the app you want to force quit.
  3. After you’ve selected the app, select the stop icon (resembling an octagon with an “X” in the middle).
    How to force quit on a Mac to close unresponsive apps
    Click on the “X” icon.Meira Gebel/Insider
  4. A pop-up window will ask if you are sure you want to quit this process. Select “Force Quit” from the list of options. The app will then close.
    How to force quit on a Mac to close unresponsive apps
    Click on “Force Quit.”Meira Gebel/Insider

What to do if force quit isn’t working on a Mac

The force quit feature is the simplest way to shut down faulty applications, but sometimes you can’t even do that. If force quit isn’t an option and your screen is completely frozen, restart your Mac.


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