How to Force Quit an App on macOS

Force Quit App Macos

There are many ways that a macOS application can misbehave. An application may enter an infinite loop, crash, hang, or cease responding to user input. While it’s never ideal to force-close an application, sometimes the app leaves you no choice!

Force-closing generally doesn’t hurt the application, although you won’t have a chance to save your work. Many macOS applications auto-save their progress at regular intervals, but as a general rule, you should expect to lose all changes you made since you last saved.

This article covers a few methods to force quit a misbehaving macOS app.

1. The Simple Method

The first, and simplest, way to force quit an application is to use the Finder.

You can force-shut an application, using the macOS Force Quit menu.

To do this, simply click the “Apple” icon in the upper-left corner of your screen and select “Force Quit.” This will launch the “Force Quit Applications” box. Alternatively, you can open this menu by pressing Option + Command + Escape.

Click on the name of the application in red. This item will typically be labelled “(Not Responding).”

You can force-shut macOS applications, using the Force Quit application.

To close this application, click the “Force Quit” button.

2. Use the Dock

Force-quitting an application through the Dock is the most familiar method for most users.

1. In the Dock, right-click the icon of the misbehaving application.

You can force-quit an application, using the macOS Dock.

2. Hold down the Option key to reveal the “Force Quit” option.

3. Force the application to close by clicking “Force Quit.”

3. Use Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor also has the power to close applications, including apps that have silently failed in the background.

Since Activity Monitor shows the status of all open applications, you can see at a glance whether any applications need to be force quit. You can also use Activity Monitor to quit processes, which are like sub-applications that don’t have Dock icons.

1. Open Activity Monitor by typing “Activity Monitor” into Spotlight. Alternatively, you’ll find the Activity Monitor in “Applications -> Utilities.”

2. Select the application or process in question – this item should be labelled “Not Responding.”


3. In the upper-left corner of the Activity Monitor window, select the “X.”

4. Use Terminal

If you’re dealing with an application that won’t respond to the previous force quit methods, then the kill command (learn more about the Kill command here) can shut the app down hard. This is the most dramatic way to force an application or process to stop, but in our experience it’s always effective.

1. Open the Terminal by typing “Terminal” into Spotlight. Alternatively, you’ll find the Terminal in the “Applications -> Utilities” folder.

2. To find the process number of the hanging application, type the following command:

ps -ax | grep "[Application Name]"

Replace [Application Name] with the name of the application you want to force quit. For example, to find Safari, type the following:

ps -ax | grep "Safari"

This will simply show all the running applications. It won’t quit anything yet!

3. Scan the resulting list for the correct application or process. Take note of the number shown before the process’s name. This is the process ID, or PID, which will be used to kill the application.

You can retrieve an application's process ID, or PID using macOS Terminal.

Here, we can see that Safari has the PID 885. If you get multiple results for the application, look for the one that ends in “/Contents/MacOS/[Application Name].”

4. Type the following command in the terminal:

kill 885

This will shut down the process with the PID 885.

Force quitting your apps on macOS shouldn’t be your primary method of closing applications, but sometimes it’s a necessary tool for stopping applications that are no longer responding to user input.

The next thing you need to do on your macOS is to make use of Automator to automate stuff and improve your productivity.

Jessica Thornsby
Jessica Thornsby

Jessica Thornsby is a technical writer based in Derbyshire, UK. When she isn’t obsessing over all things tech, she enjoys researching her family tree, and spending far too much time with her house rabbits.

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