macOS 101: How to force a Mac application to quit

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MacOS apps tend to behave well, but there are times when they can stop working or freeze and slow down your entire Mac. If this happens to you (and it can happen often if you are playing with the latest Monterey betas), it is time to quit the application.

The first thing, of course, is to try to close the application normally:

  • Right-click the application icon in the menu bar and select Quit or …
  • Press the Command-Q keys.

However, if the app is frozen or just doesn’t quit, you will be forced to quit. Again, there are a few ways to do this:

  • Click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner and look for an option that says “Force Quit” or …
  • Press Command-Option-Esc.

You may find “Force Quit” in Apple’s drop-down menu.

You may find “Force Quit” in Apple’s drop-down menu.

Either way, this will bring up the “Force Quit Applications” box with a list of active applications. Highlight the awkward application and click the “Force Quit” button. A pop-up window asks if you are sure; Click “Force Quit” to exit the application.

Use the “Force quite apps” menu to close the invalid app.

Use the “Force quite apps” menu to close the invalid app.

If for some reason you can’t access the Force Quit menu, there is another way to close the application using Activity Monitor, which lists all the active processes on your Mac. To access the Activity Monitor:

  • Use Spotlight Search to search for “Activity Monitor” or …
  • In the Finder, click Applications in the left menu. In the list of applications that opens, double-click the Utilities folder, and then double-click Activity Monitor.

Activity Monitor can be found in the Applications Utility folder.

Activity Monitor can be found in the Applications’ Utility folder.

  • You will see a list of active processes that should include your misbehaving application. It’s going to be a long list, so you can click the “Process Name” heading in alphabetical order to find the list easier. If you suspect that an application is highlighting the CPU, you can try clicking on the title “% CPU”, which may put the application at the top of the list.

Once you find the app, click the x icon at the top of the list.

Once you find the app, click the x icon at the top of the list.

  • Highlight the application you want to close and click the “x” icon at the top of the window.
  • Click “Force Quit”.

Now you can either close or force the application to quit.

Now you can either close or force the application to quit.

And if you still have trouble, you can always shut down the system. You may lose some of your work, but it will close the app that is running you.

  • Hold down the power button (or the Touch ID button if your Mac has a touch bar) until the Apple logo appears on the screen.
  • Release and allow the system to restart.

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