How to force quit on a Mac

4 min read

When an app on your Mac stops responding, waiting for it to recover can be incredibly frustrating. But don't worry! There is a solution: Mac Force Quit.

It's a handy feature that lets you quickly regain control of your computer. By shutting down the frozen app, you can free up your system resources and be productive again in no time.

In this article, we'll walk you through a few methods of how to force quit an app on Mac,  including the case when force quit on Mac is not working.

What is force quit on Mac?

As mentioned, Force Quit Mac is a feature that allows you to forcefully shut down an unresponsive app. Note that force close may lead to losing any unsaved changes. So before closing the frozen app, wait a minute. The app may be trying to process your last request. In this case, the cursor will turn into a colorful spinning wheel. If waiting doesn't help, try one of the ways below.

How to force quit apps in one click

Certain apps or processes may consume excessive system resources, leading to sluggish performance of your Mac. So, first of all, we recommend you install CleanMyMac X, the intelligent, multi-purpose app for your Mac.

With its user-friendly Menu app, you can effortlessly force quit any program with just a few clicks. Simply locate and click on the small iMac icon in your menu bar to access its features. Inside the Menu app, you'll find a dedicated Memory tab, which enables you to identify apps that are consuming excessive system resources. By choosing the problematic app(s) and clicking on the quit button, you can swiftly force quit them, reclaiming valuable memory and optimizing the performance of your Mac.

quit top consuming apps from CleanMyMac X's memory usage dashboard

In addition, if you have multiple apps that need to be closed at once, QuitAll is a handy tool that lets you quit multiple apps with a single click. With these powerful tools at your disposal, you can quickly unfreeze your Mac and get back to being productive in no time.

How to force quit from the Apple Menu

Now, let's look at one of the most common ways to force quit to close unresponsive apps.

Here's how to force close on Mac from the Apple menu:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the upper-left corner of your screen
  2. Choose Force Quit
  3. Then choose the app that isn't responding. (If you have multiple apps open, the easiest way to tell which one is unresponsive is to look at the cursor. If the cursor looks normal, the app is still responsive. If the cursor looks like a spinning rainbow wheel, the app is unresponsive)
  4. Click the Force Quit button.

Force Quit Applications from Apple menu

Force quit from Dock

If you're wondering how to force quit on Mac using the Dock, follow these simple steps:

  1. To open the Dock menu, right-click the app icon you want to quit or click and hold the item.
  2. Then hold down an Option (Alt) key so the Quit menu changes to Force Quit
  3. Click Force Quit.

    force quit MS Word using the Dock

Could you imagine it being that easy?

What is the shortcut key for force quit?

Another fast way to force quit an app from anywhere without taking your hands off the keyboard is to use the force quit Mac shortcut: Command + Option + Esc.

shortcut keys for force quit

After pressing the above keys, you'll see the dialog box. Choose the app you want to force close and click Force Quit.

Force quit in Mission Control

Mission Control is a macOS feature that allows users to switch between apps and windows, create virtual desktops, manage full-screen apps, and organize their workflow efficiently. For those using Mission Control regularly, there is no direct option to force quit a freezing app. However, you can try Mission Control Plus. It doesn't reinvent the wheel; it just gives the native macOS app some very helpful functions.

Mission Control Plus lets you view open windows and instantly close the ones you don't need. It adds the X button to Mission Control. You can also use quick shortcuts to close all windows, quit apps, or hide them.

This tool can be extremely useful if you need to force close a full-screen app.

How to force quit using the Terminal

If you prefer a command-line method of troubleshooting, you can quit an unresponsive app using the Terminal. Follow the instructions below:

  1. Open Terminal (Go > Utilities > Terminal or use the Spotlight search – Command + Space)
  2. Type the following command: killall [application name] (for example, if Slack isn't responding, type killall Slack in the window that opens). If the name of an app is two words and more (like "Google Chrome"), you should enclose its name in quotation marks.

    force quit Slack app using Terminal

  3. Press Return. Your app will be shut down instantly.

Force quit application in Activity Monitor

To force quit a frozen Macbook app using Activity Monitor:

  1. Open Activity Monitor (in the Utilities folder or via Spotlight search)
  2. Find the unresponsive app in the list

    force quit Google Chrome in Activity Monitor

  3. Choose it and click the X button in the toolbar
  4. Confirm the force quit.

Ways to fix force quit not working on Mac

Most of the time, one of the tips we give in this article or here will make it easy for you to force quit an app. But every once in a while, it won't work. To fix the problem, you need to turn off and then turn on your computer again. All you need to do is to go to the Apple menu and choose Restart. 

Check for more methods to restart a MacBook

How to force quit on Mac: Final thoughts 

When faced with an unresponsive app on your Mac, try the QuitAll tool to force quit any or all apps quickly. Monitor your Mac's performance and quit any app with CleanMyMac's menu bar dashboard. Or use Activity Monitor and Mac Force Quit as your default Mac tools to force-quit apps. If you prefer a command-line method of troubleshooting, you can quit an unresponsive app using the Terminal. Also, remember an important shortcut to force quit an app from anywhere without taking your hands off the keyboard: Command + Option + Esc.

Shortcut for Force QuitCommand + Option + Esc
Close unresponsive appUse Force Quit from the Apple menu or Dock
Force stopping an appTry Terminal or Activity Monitor for force quit
Force Quit background tasks CleanMyMac X and QuitAll

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