How To Kill An Unresponsive Computer Application

Killing broken applications

Modern operating systems are pretty good at protecting the entire computer from becoming useless when a single application gets gummed up. But how do you kill an application that won't respond to a mouse or keyboard command? We explains the basics for Mac and Windows.

macOS or OS X applications

Depending on when you last updated the operating system on your Mac, you'll either be running OS X or macOS. Apple changed the name of their operating system for desktop and laptop computers in 2016.

The Command-Option-Escape keyboard command will open the "Force Quit" dialog box. This will list all open applications with any that aren't working marked as "Not Responding".

Choose the non-responsive app in the list, click the Force Quit button and things should be back to normal.

In some cases, it might be the Finder that is non-responsive. You can't quit the Finder as it's the program that runs constantly and gives you the desktop, Dock and other essential operating system functions. But the Force Quit dialog box will let you restart the Finder.

Windows programs

We're all familiar with the three-fingered salute; Control-Alt-Delete. There was a time when this magical key combination would summarily restart your computer. Microsoft reappropriated this keyboard combination to bring up the Task Manager in Windows 10.

But you can also get the Task manager up by right-clicking the Taskbar and click on Task Manager, opening Start and searching for Task Manager or using the Ctrl-Shift- Esc keyboard shortcut.

With Task Manager, you can kill applications that aren't responding. Go to the Apps tab, select the errant program, right click and choose End Process.

When all else fails

Sometimes, Force Quit or Task Manager won't appear because things are so gummed up. You're only option may be to shut down your computer and restart.

If you can't shut down gracefully using the appropriate commands on the Start menu or Apple menu on a Windows or Mac system respectively, then holding the power button down for a few seconds will force the computer to power off.

But note that doing this could result in data not being saved if you weren't able to save your work. And your next restart may take a while as the operating system performs diagnostics and repairs automatically because of the unexpected shut down.


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