How to Force Quit Applications on a Mac

Do applications on your Mac keep freezing? If so, this article will help you get "unstuck" and at least make your Mac usable again, by quitting the frozen application. When you quit a frozen (or hanging) application by any method other than pressing quot within the app itself (which you can't do because it's frozen), then that is called a "Force Quit". The guide also covers some common reasons why your Mac might freeze, along with potential solutions.

How to Force Quit Applications

If an application has frozen, then what you will need to do in order to exit or shut down the application, and unfreeze your system, is force quit it. Like the name suggests, this is a method of forcefully shutting down a particular application when it’s not responding. There are three main ways to do it.

Keyboard Method

Simply use the Option key on your keyboard to bring up Force Quit in the app's menu.

  1. Move your cursor onto the icon of application, in your task bar, that you want to force quit.
  2. Right click on it and hold the Alt / Option key.
  3. A pop up window will open.
  4. Click on "Force Quit."

Apple Menu Method

This is the Mac equivalent version of CTRL+ALT+DELETE, which is the very well known command, used to do the same thing, for PCs!

  1. Press and hold the Alt (Option), Command and Escape keys.
  2. This will open a window with all your recently open applications.
  3. Click on the application you want to force quit.
  4. Click "Force Quit."

Activity Monitor Method

  1. Click on Finder. If you can't access "Finder" then bring up the Activity Monitor via spotlight, (spacebar + Command).
  2. Click on applications on the sidebar.
  3. Double click on the Activity monitor icon.
  4. Click on the search menu on the top right corner.
  5. Search for the application you want to force quit.
  6. Click on the name of the application.
  7. Click on the cross sign at the top left sign.
  8. Select "Force Quit."

Why do Applications Freeze and How to Fix Them

There is no one single reason that we can pinpoint, ahead of time, for why your Mac or a particular might freeze or hang. Below we have provided a few of the most common causes as well as how to fix them permanently.

Lack of Storage

One of the most common reasons for applications freezing on a Mac can be your device running out of storage. Mac applications can take up a significant amount of space. If you’re not mindful of the files and applications downloaded, your storage might get filled up very quick.


Thankfully, the solution to this problem is pretty simple. You’ll need to go Finder and search for useless applications and delete them. But a lot of people dread doing this as it can be time-consuming. That’s why we recommend using CleanMyMac X. It’s a software used to save up on storage space. This software searches your Mac for unnecessary cached files as well as broken downloads and deletes them. It always asks you before deleting any file. This way, you know that it won’t delete any important file. If you want a quick and easy way to save space on your Mac, then we highly recommend checking out CleanMyMac X.

Too Many Background Processes

Another common reason for your applications freezing is a lot of background programs running at the same time. If you ever want to open an application and a lot of other applications are running at the back, this might then be responsible for your application freezing.


Solving this problem is also fairly straight forward. If you have some extra programs running which you aren’t using, then close all of them. Close any additional Chrome tabs that you have opened.

If closing those extra programs does’t help though, that might mean you are low on RAM. You might then have to install an extra RAM. Random Access Memory (RAM) is a storage device like your hard drive or solid-state storage, but it’s smaller in capacity as its only job is to store programs currently being used. Increasing your RAM directly results in better performance and a RAM upgrade is pretty cheap. We recommend that everyone with an older Mac should go for it.

It should be noted that if you’re planning on upgrading your RAM, get it done by a professional as you might damage your device. Furthermore, a RAM upgrade also voids your warranty. Still, chances are that if you’re getting a RAM upgrade, then your Mac is already out of its warranty period.

Old Software Version

It may also be possible that your Mac software or application has a newer version that you haven't downloaded. Usually, these updates will fix any known bugs, and these bugs are what often cause applications to freeze.


If your applications keep freezing, then go to Apple Settings (click the Apple icon in the top left of your screen) and click on Software updates to check for updates. If there are any updates, then click on the update button. But if it’s a particular application that keeps freezing, then go to the website of the application or its page on the Mac App Store. Over here, you just have to check if there is a newer version of the application. If there is one available, install it to replace the older version. CleanMyMac X can also check all of this for you, automatically.


To summarize, if any application freezes, you can use any one of the three methods above to close it. This won’t permanently solve the problem though, so you have to use one of our provided solutions. Additionally, we highly recommend downloading CleanMyMac X to keep your Mac device running smoothly. A RAM upgrade will also be beneficial if your Mac is older and showing its age, this can help bring new life to your device.

Muaz Ashrafi

Hi! I am Muaz, a Mass Communication major. I like to think I am a free urban spirit. I write blogs with a focus on tech and gadgets. When I'm not writing, you can find me with my headphones on, relaxing to some good house EDM music. I'm also a hobbyist photographer, you can find me on Instagram @mzwithacamera.


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