Ok, I get it. There is no equivalent to the PC’s Ctrl+Alt+Del shortcut on a Mac® to force quit an application. So how do I quit that annoying program that’s not responding?
Luckily, Apple® has you covered and gives you multiple options. The shortcut actually exists, and moreover, there are a few other extremely convenient ways to fight buggy apps. Today I’m going to list three easy ways to force-quit an application on a Mac, without harming the system.
Let’s dive in!
1. Force Quit Using the Apple Menu
The most conventional and effective way to close frozen programs is to go to the macOS® menu bar, located along the top of the screen in the Finder menu.
- Click on the black apple icon in the upper-left corner.
- From the drop-down menu, select “Force Quit…”. You will be directed to the new window named “Force Quit Application” where all the magic happens.
- Now all you have to do is select the application you want to close and choose “Force Quit.”
If you don’t know which application is stuck, pay attention to the ones that have the note “Not Responding.” This usually appears next to frozen applications.
2. Force Quit with Mac Shortcut
To do the same thing but faster, use Mac shortcut keys to close frozen applications.
- On your keyboard, press and hold Command + Option + Esc. It will immediately bring up a “Force Quit Application” window.
- Select the frozen application from the dialogue box and select “Force Quit.”
This could be your go-to method if the mouse or trackpad is lagging.
3. Close Application from Activity Monitor (Ctrl+Alt+Del Alternative)
Here’s the pinnacle of this article.
Very few Apple owners know that macOS provides an almost identical alternative to the traditional PC Control+Alt+Delete shortcut—and does it better. Yes, we all know that in Windows that keyboard shortcut is often used to open the Task Manager window. (To be honest, it’s needed too often, which is why we’re on a Mac.) From Task Manager, you can track applications, services, performance, and processes, and kill some of them when they’re unresponsive.
You can easily do all of that and more on the macOS native application called Activity Monitor.
To kill an application using Activity Monitor, do the following.
1. On your keyboard, press Command + Space, or click on Spotlight in the top-right corner of the screen.
2. In the “Spotlight Search” window, start typing “Activity Monitor.”
3. Once Activity Monitor is highlighted, hit Enter.
4. In the Activity Monitor processes list, select the application you want to quit and click “Force a process to quit” in the left corner.
What to Do If Force Quit Isn’t Working?
If all the applications stop responding and you can’t quit them using one of the methods described above, you can force your Mac to restart. To do so, press and hold the Control+Command+Power buttons.
Alternatively, you can force Mac to shut down by pressing and holding the power button, or use one of the many other shortcuts.
Is it Safe to Force Quit?
Forcing a frozen application to quit is the same as killing the symptoms when we get sick versus curing the virus. We need to see the bigger picture and understand what causes the problem and how to cure it while understanding how to avoid it from happening again.
The number one reason we have a problem with frozen applications in a Mac is insufficient RAM—or, in other words, a lack of computer memory to operate the system compared to the number of applications you usually open (including those numerous open tabs in a browser). So anytime your system utilizes all of its existing resourses to run the task, it becomes unresponsive. Think of RAM like a physical workbench. The more space (memory) you have to work, the more projects you can have out to work on. Less space? Less ability to work on multiple things at once.
Forcing Mac to quit the application does resolve the problem but may have downsides. When you close an application in the traditional manner, it will clean everything it runs in the background and alert you to save the work. When you force close on Mac, you may end up losing files and data, or mess things up on the drive. Although the effect will only be related to that one particular application that got stuck, sometimes it can hurt.
What’s the Solution?
Since your Mac doesn’t have enough space to run all those applications you need, the most obvious step would be to increase the RAM. If you own an iMac® or the older generation of MacBook Pro®, you can simply buy memory and upgrade your existing computer. With the new Mac generation, you don’t have that option anymore because the RAM is glued and soldered to the motherboard. You either buy a new computer or struggle.
Alternatively, you can clean your memory to free up space using Parallels® Toolbox. Parallels designed a tool set for macOS and PC users to efficiently manage their computer with just a few clicks—without any professional knowledge needed. Within the application (which is available to try for free), you can easily free up unused computer memory, clean your drive, and help your Mac run at max speed with a dozen other useful utilities.
If you’re interested in learning how easily one click can save precious disk space, check out how much space I took back with the Parallels Toolbox tool Clean Drive:
In one click (and about 10 seconds), I successfully removed 4 GB of clutter and reclaimed space on my hard drive.
So there you have it. Take care of your Mac with those quick tips, and remember to always save your work!