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Stuck on the spinning wheel of doom? Five ways to Force Quit an app in MacOS

Whether MacOS is giving you a spinning beach ball of death, or iTunes is taking too long to close (again), sometimes you just need to immediately close an app if MacOS isn’t being cooperative. Thankfully, you’ve got options, and there’s more than one way to Force Quit an unresponsive app in Apple’s desktop operating system.

Keep in mind that, unlike the normal method for quitting an app, there aren’t going to be any prompts asking you to save your work or confirming your decision. Once you hit Force Quit, it’s too late for all of that, and MacOS will immediately shut the app down without any prompts. Just a word of warning — using Force Quit should be a last resort.

Utilize Finder

First up is Apple’s recommended course of action for when an app starts to wear out its welcome. Just click on the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your screen and select Force Quit from the resulting list. This should bring up a task manager that showcases your open applications. Just select the one that’s giving you trouble and click Force Quit at the bottom.

Hit Command-Q

If that doesn’t work, it’s time for keyboard shortcuts. Just like Ctrl-Alt-Del for Windows, Command-Q is generally the best way to Force Quit an app that has locked up. Simply press and hold the Command and “Q” keys, and the troublesome app should fade away.

OSX Force Quit Menu

Try the Option key

If its still giving you trouble, right-click or Control-click the misbehaving app in your dock, press and hold the Option key, and try selecting Force Quit from the resulting list. If that doesn’t work, don’t worry, you’ve still got options. It’s just time to get creative.

Launch Activity Monitor

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 12.36.12 PM

Let’s begin by opening the Activity Monitor. Click on the Spotlight icon — i.e. the magnifying glass in the top-right corner of your screen — and enter “Activity Monitor” in the text box. Then, select the application from the resulting list, which should bring up a task manager that displays everything running on your computer. Find the culprit, select it, and click the button that resembles a stop sign in the top-left corner.

If that still doesn’t do the trick, it might be a good idea to save all your open work and restart your Mac, which will likely solve the problem. But if you’re still determined to shut down that app, it’s time to for the nuclear option.

Make use of Terminal

Open your Applications folder, scroll down to Utilities, and launch Terminal. When you open the app, give it a second. Once Terminal lists your username and a tilde, it’s time to get to work. Type “top” within the box and press the Return key.

Terminal will list all currently running applications — including those running in the background — alongside a lot of diagnostic information regarding your CPU and RAM usage. But what we’re looking for here is going to be in the Command column. Here, you should see a list of all running applications, and to the left will be a column of numbers labeled PID.

If you see the application you want to close in the Command column, make a mental note of its PID (or just write it down). Then, close your Terminal window, open a new one, and type “kill” followed by the PID for the application in question. Then, hit the Return key. That should do it! Just close Terminal, and take a nice deep breath.