Whether MacOS is giving you a spinning beach ball of death or a particular app is taking too long to close, sometimes you just need to immediately close an app and get back to work. Thankfully, you’ve got options, and there’s more than one way to force quit an unresponsive app in MacOS.
Keep in mind that unlike the normal method for quitting an app, there aren’t going to be any prompts asking you to save your work or confirming your decision. Once you hit force quit, it’s too late for all of that, and MacOS will immediately shut the app down without any prompts. Just a word of warning — using force quit should be a last resort.
Now let’s get to it. Here’s how to force quit on a Mac.
Method 1: Use the Finder
First up is Apple’s recommended course of action for when an app starts to wear out its welcome.
Step 1: Click on the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your screen and select Force Quit from the list.
Step 2: This should bring up the Force Quit Applications window that displays your open applications.
Step 3: Just select the one that’s giving you trouble and click Force Quit at the bottom.
Method 2: Keyboard shortcuts
If that doesn’t work, it’s time for keyboard shortcuts.
Step 1: Similar to Ctrl+Alt+Del on Windows 10, hit Opt + Cmd + Esc on your keyboard (on some Mac keyboards, Opt is labeled as Alt).
Step 2: Like other methods, this will bring up the Force Quit Applications window.
Step 3: Just select the application that’s giving you trouble and click Force Quit.
Also, if you’re looking for even more keyboard shortcuts to speed up your computing on MacOS, check out our handy guide.
Method 3: Try the Option key
If that pesky program is still giving you trouble, there’s a more manual way to select which app you want to close down.
Step 1: Just Right-Click or Ctrl-Click on the misbehaving app in your Dock.
Step 2: Then, press and hold the Option key, which turns the Quit selection to Force Quit in the list of options.
If that doesn’t work, don’t worry, you still have options. It’s just time to get creative.
Method 4: Launch Activity Monitor
Step 1: Open the Activity Monitor by clicking on the Spotlight icon — i.e., the magnifying glass in the top-right corner of your screen — and typing Activity Monitor in the text box. Then select the app from the list.
Step 2: From the task manager that displays everything running on your computer, find the misbehaving app, select it, and click the button that resembles a Stop Sign in the top-left corner.
If that still doesn’t do the trick, it might be a good idea to save all your open work and restart your iMac or MacBook, which will likely solve the problem. If you’re still determined to shut down that app, though, it’s time to go for the nuclear option.
Method 5: Use Terminal
This is the most involved method, and it’s a good option as a last resort if you’re a bit technically-minded.
Step 1: Open your Applications folder, scroll down to Utilities, and launch Terminal.
Step 2: Wait a few seconds for Terminal to display your username, followed by a tilde. You can then type Top in the box and hit the Return key.
Step 3: Terminal will list all currently running applications — including those running in the background — alongside a lot of diagnostic information regarding your CPU and RAM usage. Look for the Command column. You will find a list of all the applications that are currently open and running. You will see some numbers under a column called PID to the left of the application names.
Step 4: Look for the app you need to close in the Command column and write down the PID number next to it. You can then close the Terminal window. Open a new Terminal window and type the command Kill followed by the PID number of the application you want to close (e.g., kill 4420). Press the Return key, and Terminal will close the application for you.