How to Fix Windows Applications Not Responding

Windows Unresponsive Featured Image

It’s frustrating when a program stops responding on Windows. You can’t click on anything or type anything. If you restart your computer, you may lose everything you were working on. And if it frequently happens on your computer, you lose valuable time and productivity on top of that.

There are a variety of issues that could stop Windows from responding to your commands – whether it’s File Explorer, Spotify, or other apps.

Since there are a variety of causes, there are a variety of solutions. Here are some troubleshooting tips that may reduce or eliminate the instances of “Microsoft Windows application is not responding.”

Windows Unresponsive Error Message

1. Set Up Task Manager for Fast Force-Quit

The first port of call to quickly abort or restart Windows apps that misbehave is through the Windows Task Manager which lets you quickly “end processes” among other things.

But first, you should set up Task Manager to do this properly.

Open Task Manager through the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc. If the option appears in the bottom-left corner of Task Manager, click “More details” to open the more comprehensive Task Manager view.

Fix Windows Applications Not Responding More Details

Once you’ve done that, click Options and make sure “Always on top” is ticked.

Fix Windows Applications Not Responding Always On Top

This will make sure that each time you open Task Manager, it will open over the top of whatever isn’t responding, letting you easily close it.

To close the misbehaving app, right-click it in Task Manager and click “End task.”

Fix Windows Applications Not Responding End Task

2. Run a Scan for Viruses

If your computer is having problems, it is always a good plan to first run a scan for viruses. If Windows Defender didn’t detect anything, consider using another antivirus software such as Kaspersky, Norton, or Avast to double-check. Run this first to make sure it isn’t malware causing the issue.

3. Update the Operating System

Sometimes Windows itself will need an update. To see if your machine needs that update, press Win + I to access the settings, then click “Update & Security.” Any upgrades or bug fixes your computer requires will be listed here.

Once you’ve installed these updates, reboot and try your computer again to see if Windows continues to freeze.

4. Clear Temporary Files

Having a large amount of temporary or cache files can take up valuable memory. These files can cause problems with the way Windows functions.

To eliminate these files:

1. Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box.

2. Type “temp” in the box and press Enter.

3. In the list of temporary files, select all by pressing Ctrl + A and delete them.

Windows Unresponsive Temp Files1

5. Update Drivers

An old and outdated driver may be the culprit that is causing Windows to freeze. Try updating drivers to see if it fixes the problem.

1. Type “Device Manager” in the search box at the bottom of your screen.

2. Click on the app that appears to launch it.

Windows Unresponsive Device Manager

3. Open each hardware option one at a time.

4. Right-click on the hardware and select “Update driver.”

Windows Unresponsive Update Driver2

6. Use the Built-in Troubleshooter

1. Open Settings by pressing Win + I.

2. In the search box, type “System Maintenance.”

3. Two options will appear. Click on “Perform recommended maintenance tasks automatically.”

Windows Unresponsive System Maintenance

4. Click Next and follow the instructions.

5. Once the scan has finished, reboot the machine and see if the problem has been solved.

7. Perform a System File Checker Scan

A System File Checker Scan (SFC) scans your computer by checking a file’s integrity and determining if it is working correctly. If it finds a file that is not working properly, it will automatically repair it.

1. Type cmd in the search box at the bottom of the screen.

2. Click on “Run as administrator.”

Windows Unresponsive Command Prompt Icon

3. When the Command Prompt opens, type: sfc /scannow in the box and press Enter.

Windows Unresponsive Command Prompt Screen

This process takes a while, so be prepared to wait. It works in the background, though, so you can continue working.

8. Use a Clean Boot

Clean booting will give you the best chance to figure out if an application or service is causing the problem with your computer.

To clean boot your machine,

1. Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box.

2. In the box, type MSCONFIG and click OK.

Windows Unresponsive Msconfig

3. Open the Boot tab and uncheck the “Safe Boot” option.

Windows Unresponsive Boot Tab

4. Click on the General tab.

Windows Unresponsive General Tab

5. Choose “Selective startup” and uncheck the box next to the Load startup items option.

6. Click on the Services tab.

Windows Unresponsive Services Tab

7. Check the box at the bottom next to Hide all Microsoft services and click Disable all.

8. Open the Startup tab.

Windows Unresponsive Startup Tab

9. Click Open Task Manager.

10. In the Task Manager, right-click on each startup item to disable all of them.

Once this is set up, you have the very dull task of enabling each startup item one by one. When the problem reoccurs, take note of which application you just activated, then reinstall the app or repair it. If a service is causing the problem, you can disable it.

9. Memory Check

If there are any memory leaks or memory card errors in your system, you can use the Memory check command to determine their presence.

1. Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box.

2. Type “mdsched.exe” and click OK.

3. Choose whether to run the scan now or wait until the next time you restart the computer.

Windows Unresponsive Memory Diagnostic

When you run this check, the screen will turn all blue for a bit but don’t panic. It is not an error. If there is an error, you will see a code and some solutions to resolve it.

Hopefully, one of these options will stop Windows from freezing on your computer. For more Windows tips, see how to access the Windowsapps folder and how to check which TCP and UDP ports are in use on your system.

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