How to Force Quit an Application in Mac OS X

By Techwalla Computers Editor

To Mac users, it is frustrating to watch a spinning pinwheel for minutes on end as the application they're working in appears frozen. When you must give up, there are several ways to force quit an application in Mac OS X.

Use the Apple Menu

Step 1

Bring up the "frozen" application on your screen.

Step 2

Go to the Apple in the menu bar at the top of the screen. The drop menu will give you an option to Force Quit.

Step 3

Highlight the application that shows "not responding" in the dialog box.

Step 4

Click the Force Quit button.

Use the Dock

Step 1

Right-click on the application from your dock. Most "frozen" applications will show you an option to Force Quit.

Step 2

Hold down the Option key if the application in the dock does not already show a Force Quit option.

Step 3

Click on Force Quit.

Use Shortcut Keys

Step 1

Press Option+Command+Esc to show the dialog box.

Step 2

Click on the application that shows "not responding."

Step 3

Press Force Quit.

Tips & Warnings

  • Force Quit an application from the Apple menu by putting your cursor over "Force Quit" and holding down Shift. This will allow you to bypass the dialog box and quit your current application.
  • Relaunch finder in the same manner. You will notice when you put your cursor over Finder, the Force Quit button will automatically change to Relaunch.
  • Force quitting an application always comes with some risk involved. You are not guaranteed your work will be saved. Use Force Quit as a last resort.
  • Mac users can also force quit applications and processes by using the Activity Monitor found under the applications/utilities folders. This is recommended for advanced users and may require an administrator password.