How to Force Quit Any App on Mac: 4 Easy Ways [2024]

Key Takeaways
  • To quit apps on a Mac, you can press Command (⌘) + Q, use the menu bar, or right-click the app icon in the Dock and select "Quit."
  • If an app is stuck, you can force quit it by pressing Command + Option + Esc, right-clicking the Dock icon and choosing "Force Quit," using Activity Monitor, or typing "killall [appname]" in Terminal.
  • Force quitting is safe when an app is unresponsive or slowing down your system, but remember, any unsaved work will be lost.

Users on Macs often come across specific bugs, glitches, or apps that slow down the system. In some rare cases, this may lead to a complete freeze or even a crash. The typical solution is to forcefully shut down the apps that are causing the problem. However, unlike Windows, which uses its popular “Ctrl+Alt+Del” method, the process for macOS is slightly different.

How Quitting Apps Works on Mac

Closing down apps on a Mac slightly varies from how the procedure normally is on Windows systems. Within macOS, closing the app window, using the red cross in the title bar usually doesn’t quit the app entirely. The app icon will still appear in the Dock with a dot underneath, showcasing how it’s still running in the background.

Quitting Apps on Mac via Activity Monitor

1) Quitting the Apps Normally

The red cross within the title bar won’t quit the app, but it would, in normal circumstances, close the window you’re working on. This may not apply to some apps that are open in a single window. For this reason, to completely quit the app, you can use either of the three methods listed below:

  1. Keyboard Shortcut: Press Command (⌘) + Q on your keyboard to close any app. To verify the app you’re about to close, check the top-left hand side of the menu bar that would have the name of the app in focus written besides the Apple logo.
  2. Menu Bar: In the menu bar, click on the app’s name (on the right hand side of the Apple logo, in the top left corner). From the dropdown menu, select “Quit.”
    Quitting an App via Menu Bar
  3. Dock: In the Dock, for an app with a small white dot beneath it, right-click on its icon, and select “Quit.
    Quitting an App via Dock

2) Force Quit

If an app becomes unresponsive or fails to close normally, you can choose to force quit it. Keep in mind however that this approach immediately terminates the app, without allowing it to perform any sorts of cleanup routines. What this means is that any work that you potentially may have unsaved, within the app, will be lost.

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How to Force Quit on Mac

On Mac, you can force quit an app in different ways, depending on the convenience and how it sits in with your workflow. You can either choose to close the app via keyboard shortcuts, the Dock, force quit menu, or the built-in Terminal.

Method 1: Force Quit Applications Menu

macOS has an integrated force quit menu, where you can choose multiple apps to terminate, all at once. You can either use the keyboard shortcut — Command + Option + Esc — to open this window, or click the Apple logo on the top left hand side and select Force Quit.

With this window open, you’ll simply need to select the app to close and click “Force Quit” in the bottom right-hand side of the window.

Closing an app via Force Quit Menu

Method 2: Force Quit via Dock

In certain scenarios, apps take a long time to load before starting up. This can sometimes eat up a lot of system resources, and can make your system unresponsive. In such cases, you can force quit the application by Control-clicking its icon in the Dock and selecting “Force Quit.

Force Quitting an App via Dock

Method 3: Mac’s Activity Monitor

Similar to the Task Manager on Windows, macOS has its own “Activity Monitor,” which functions in, more or less, the same way. To force quit an unresponsive app, select it in the Activity Monitor window and click the “Force Quit” icon located in the top left corner.

While there isn’t a direct keyboard shortcut to launch Activity Monitor itself, you can access it quickly through Launchpad or by using Spotlight Search with the keyboard shortcut Command + Space.

Stopping an app process via Activity Monitor

Method 4: Terminal

To force close an application with multiple ongoing processes in the background, it is recommended to use the Terminal. Simply, open it up and type in “killall [appname]” and press Enter. This command will terminate all running instances of the application, including its background processes.

Killing an Application Process via Terminal

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Why & When to Force Quit

At times you may come across situations where an app is buggy, or unresponsive; meaning it won’t quit on its own. In that case, you may need to force close an application. However, there are other scenarios too, to keep in mind, for when you should force quit an app, or in some cases, the system itself.

  1. The app in focus is behaving unusually.
  2. If your screen displays unusual artifacts out of nowhere.
  3. If you accidentally opened an app that takes a long time to load and won’t close normally.
  4. The app or service is taking a considerable amount of your PC’s resources for no apparent reason. Keep in mind that some system apps are actually meant to serve a purpose behind the scenes.
  5. If your entire system is completely frozen.
  6. If your mouse or keyboard input becomes unresponsive, but the screen and other apps are still functioning properly.

↪ Is it Safe to Force Quit an App?

While force quitting out of an app is generally considered to be a mandatory action, some people may find it unsafe, and hence would rather wait for a frozen system to respond again than to say, try and force quit an app. Even worse, some myths claim that even using the power button to force shut down the system is dangerous.

Force Shut Down via Power Button

Many people consider turning off their PC via the power button an “unsafe” way to do so. However, in reality, it serves the exact same purpose as using the built-in shutdown command, which means that there is no harm in using the physical button to force-shut down your system as a last resort if you can’t even force-quit a particular app.

READ MORE: How To Play Windows Games on Mac – Detailed Guide ➜


While closing unresponsive apps can be incredibly frustrating, macOS has several methods to forcefully close them, ranging from using the Dock to terminating all instances via the Terminal command-line tool. Since all of these essentially do the same exact thing, either of them can be used by users depending upon what suits their workflow the best.


Is it safe to force quit an app?

If an app is behaving abnormally, is consuming a lot of resources, or is slowing down the system, it is completely safe to terminate it. However, this might not be the permanent solution, or even the cause of slowness of your system. If unsaved, all of your work can also be lost when you force quit an app.

Why is my system unresponsive even after force quitting the app?

The issue with your system might not lie in the app you’re trying to close. Try and restart your PC to see if the issue goes away. If completely unresponsive, hold the power button on your Mac to force a shut down.

What’s the alternate to Ctrl+Alt+Del on macOS?

On macOs, you have the option to essentially force quit any apps running in the background via a dedicated menu. The keyboard shortcut to open this menu is Command + Option + Esc.


Muhammad Qasim

Qasim's deep love for technology and gaming drives him to not only stay up-to-date on the latest developments but also to share his informed perspectives with others through his writing. Whether through this or other endeavors, he is committed to sharing his expertise and making a meaningful contribution to the world of tech and gaming.