How to force quit on Mac: End task on macOS

force quit on mac

If you have a program that’s crashed on Mac, force quit can be an easy way to kill it and get back into the mix of things.

A huge downside to macOS is that sometimes programs will crash and there will be absolutely no way out of it. That spinning pinwheel still haunts us, even to this day. Handily though, as macOS runs on an adjacent UNIX framework, and that’s fairly similar to Linux, it has a built-in kill switch.

It also works much better than Task Manager on Windows, as it’s going to actually shut the program down, rather than hang and turn bright, eye-searing white.

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If you’re in a full-screen program and need to kill it quickly, but can’t make it to the top taskbar with the Apple logo in, there’s a quick combination of keys to hit. Command, Option, and Escape will immediately bring up the window over anything you currently have live on the screen.

With the top bar, you can easily hit the Apple logo, and then from the drop-down, press Force Quit. From here, choose the program and press force quit. macOS will simply shut it down immediately.

Programs might hang for a few seconds, but eventually, they’ll vanish just as quickly as they crashed.

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Force Quit via Terminal on macOS

To quit a program in Terminal, if all else has failed, follow these steps:

  • Space+CMD to bring up quick search and type in Terminal
  • Once loaded, type in ps -ax to bring up all the running processes
  • Find the correct PID number on the side and then type in kill [PID NUMBER]

This will then kill the process and you should be free of its curse.

If you’re in a pickle and really cannot get something to quit, you can just power down the machine by hitting the power button. For those on a laptop that has Touch ID, you just need to hold this down like a power button for 10 seconds.

Be sure to check out our other tech guides.