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Forcing a frozen app to quit is like killing the symptoms when we get sick or curing the virus. We need to get the big picture and understand what is causing the problem and how to fix it, while also understanding how to prevent it from happening again. The main reason we have problem with frozen apps on a Mac is because of insufficient memory, or in other words, the computer running out of memory to run the system compared to the number of applications that you open normally (including the many tabs opened in a browser). So whenever your system uses all of its resources to complete the task, it stops responding. Think of RAM as a physical workbench.
The more space (memory) you have to work, the more you can work on projects. Small space? Less ability to work on multiple things at the same time. Forcing the Mac to shut down fixes the problem, but can be annoying. Closing an app in the traditional way will clean up anything running in the background and ask you to save your work. If you force quit your Mac, you might lose files and data, or mess everything up on the drive. Although the effect only applies to the specific application being blocked, it can sometimes be painful.
How to force quit an application in macOS
While the instructions may vary depending on which version of macOS you’re using (Big Sur, Catalina, etc.), forcing an app to quit is relatively straightforward. There are several ways to force quit an app on macOS. We will cover them in this section.
Close an application
Before we dive into other methods, let’s first make sure that you close the app correctly. Every application open on your Mac is displayed at the bottom of your screen. This is called the “wharf”. You can try to close the app by following these steps:
- Use the “control” button and the mouse or touchpad to click on the application.
- While holding down the Option key, you will notice that “Exit” will change to “Force Quit”. The application will close automatically once you click on the “Force quit” option.
Using the Apple menu
One of the easiest and most universal options to force quit an app is to use the Apple menu. The good thing about this option is that no matter what the behavior of the app (it uses all your RAM, is unresponsive, etc.), it will quickly close the problematic app. Here’s how to do it:
- Make sure that the problematic application is active, in addition to other applications that your Mac is running. You will see the name of the app in the upper left corner.
- Click on the Apple icon in the upper right corner.
- From the drop-down menu, click Force Quit. .
- Highlight the app you want to force to close. Then click on Force Quit in the lower right corner.
- A small pop-up will appear asking you to confirm that you want to force this app. Click Force Quit.
Use Activity Monitor to close an application
For anyone unfamiliar with how Activity Monitor works, it is very much like “Task Manager” in Windows or “System Monitor” for Linux users. Essentially, you can easily monitor all the processes and applications from the Activity Monitor. To use Activity Monitor to force quit an application:
- Open “Finder” from your Dock.
- Click on ‘Applications’ then on ‘Utilities’.
- Click on “Activity Monitor”.
- Click on the “Power” tab and double-click on the application.
- Click on “Exit”.
Use a keyboard shortcut
For anyone who prefers to use a simple and basic keyboard shortcut to force quit a program, this is a very straightforward process. This process is very similar to the first method mentioned above. However, this is a shortcut.
First choose which app is not responding and then bring it to the foreground. To do this, just right click on the target app icon displayed in the Dock and then select “Show / Show All / Show All Windows” depending on which app is unresponsive. Once the specific application is displayed in the foreground, hold down the “Command” plus “Option” plus “Shift” plus “Esc” keys for a few seconds to force the application to quit.
Using any of these five methods should solve your problem by instantly closing the unresponsive application on your system so you can get back to work immediately.
Final words: How to force quit the app on Mac
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