How to Force Quit Mac Applications

This is how to force quit apps on a Mac with six different methods.

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1) Use a Keyboard Shortcut for “Force Quit Applications” Window in Mac OS X

Starting with one of the best and easiest is the system wide Force Quit function: Hit Command+Option+Escape from anywhere to bring up the simple “Force Quit Applications” window, then click on the app name to select, followed by clicking the “Force Quit” button, this will end the app immediately.

Think of this as a simplified version of Activity Monitor, and it’s also a great keystroke to remember to use since it allows for quickly ceasing multiple apps. If you’re going to remember nothing else for force quitting apps in OS X, remember this keystroke: Command + Option + Escape

That Force Quit keyboard shortcut is probably the best combination of easy and power when force quitting apps in Mac OS X, since you can access it with a keystroke, select and force quit multiple apps if necessary, and summon it from anywhere.

2) Force Quit Currently Active Mac App with the Keyboard

Hold down Command+Option+Shift+Escape for a second or two until the app forcibly closes. Be sure to do this while the app you want to force quit is the foremost application on the Mac, as it will force quit whatever is active when held down.

This is not well known, but offers perhaps the quickest way to force quit the foreground application in Mac OS X and a very good keyboard shortcut to remember.

3) Force Quitting Apps from the Dock

Option + Right Click on an apps icon in the Dock to bring up the “Force Quit” option, selecting this will kill the app without any confirmation.

4) Force Quit an App from the Apple Menu

Hold the Shift Key and click on the  Apple menu to find “Force Quit [Application Name]”.

This is easy to remember but not necessarily the most powerful method, since sometimes an application is completely unresponsive and the menus are inaccessible.

5) Use Activity Monitor to Force Quit Apps

Activity Monitor is a powerful way to forcibly quit any app, task, daemon, or process running on Mac OS X. You can find it in /Applications/Utilities/ or open it from Spotlight with Command+Space and then type ‘Activity Monitor’ and the return key. Using Activity Monitor is very easy: Select the process name or ID you wish to kill (unresponsive apps will usually appear as red), and hit the red “Quit Process” button.

You can think of this as the Mac equivalent to a task manager from the Windows world and a more complex version of the second tips Force Quit window. If one of the previous methods fails, this will almost certainly work.

6) Using the Terminal & kill Command

If all else fails, using the command line is a surefire way to force an app or process to quit by issuing the low-level kill command. Launch the Terminal and type one of the following commands:

killall [processname]

For example, “killall Safari” would kill all instances of the Safari process. If you know the process id, which you can find with the ps or ‘ps aux’ command. Aim kill at that process specifically:

kill -9 [pid]

The kill commands will take out just about anything, and sometimes have the side effect of not honoring Versions, Window Restore, and Auto-Save, so be cautious of potential data loss.

What’s your preferred method of forcibly quitting an app? Mine is the Command+Option+Escape trick, or by using Activity Monitor, but I often turn to the command line for more complex situations.

Remember, when you force quit an app, you will lose any unsaved data in that application. Don’t forget that.

Force Quit on iOS

From the iOS side of things, you can , or iPod touch, by holding down the Power button until the slide to power option appears, and then hold the Home button until the app closes.

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