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How to Force Quit an Application in OS X

Just like in normal life, we have certain symbols and icons in out computers which never brings good news. They are meant to either bring a bad message or alert us before a bad activity occurs. Similarly in Mac, you must have seen a beachball which activates because of slow performance.

Now this slow performance is mostly caused by either an unresponsive application or by the system itself. In either way, you can allow the system to breath for a while and get back to work again. For that, you need to quit the applications which you are not using at the current moment.

Quitting an app is very easy in OS X, and I am sure you don’t need an explanation for that, but when normal quitting doesn’t work, then we need to opt for Force Quit mechanism. This is a special technique (which is easy to trigger) to forcefully stop an application from running in the system. Thus, it saves the system from falling into the trap of unresponsive apps and then causing the performance issues.

#1 The Force Quit Option

The Dock is one of my favourite part of OS X and it also helps in keeping the applications close which are not responding at a given interval of time. You simply have to take the mouse pointer to that application’s shortcut in the Dock and double tap on the same (if you are using a mouse, then right-click on it).

Now, the very first option from the bottom will be ‘Force Quit’, so, simply tap on the same (or click it) and the application will no longer be active in this current state. This is the simplest method of stopping an application from running.


Tip – A simple black dot is displayed at the bottom of app’s icon in the dock, which indicates of its running state. If you don’t see that black dot, then the app isn’t running anymore.

If the above method isn’t working, then there is a pro addition to the same. You need to right click or double tap on the app’s icon in the Dock, which you want to stop running and then select ‘Show All Windows’ option.

Now, it will open in the full-screen mode. No other app will be running apart from this one and to kill it, you need to press the key combination of Command+Option+Shift+Escape for 1-2 second until that app is stopped completely.

#2 Using the Terminal (Command)

The terminal is a command prompt application in OS X. You can launch it using the Spotlight search and then to perform the action we desire, in this case, following a set of instructions are meant to be followed.

Launch the Activity Monitor and find out Process ID (PID) of the application which is running but not responding i.e. the one we want to kill.

After having the PID code, run the Terminal app and write this code ‘kill -8 PID’, where ‘8’ is the Process ID.

Done! Once you write the code and execute it, the application associated with that particular ID will be killed. Of course, you need to replace the PID, according to the one at your end.

#3 Using the Activity Monitor

Task Manager or the Activity Monitor, both applications are same. The difference is of the platform they serve their expertise for. In OS X, you need to press Command+Space key from the keyboard to launch the Spotlight search. Start typing ‘Activity Monitor’ and hit the application you see the results at the top.


Now move into Energy tab as you can see aside of CPU and Memory tabs and select the app you wish to kill for the moment. Once you select the app, you need to finally hit the ‘X’ button which is at the top left corner, just beneath those three colored circular buttons.

Once you press the X button, the app you selected will be removed from the system for the moment and once you start it again, it will start responding to your commands. Simple, right?

#4 Using the Force Quit Application

In Windows, it is CTRL+ALT+DLT key combination which launches the task killer, but in OS X, the key combination you need to press is Command+Option+Escape.


Once you press these keys together, the Force Quit application will be running at your screen. Now, you can simply select the app which is not responding to your keystrokes and hit the ‘Force Quit’ button to finish its timeline for the moment.

Wrap up

So, as it finds out, there are total four methods to force quit an application in OS X. After knowing all of them, which one is your favourite? Mine is the shortcut one which is triggered from the dock at the bottom.


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