6 ways to kill apps on Mac

Updated : Dec 02, 2021

Here are some ways to kill apps when they freeze on your Mac.

Besides when they freeze, they are also effective when the zombie process remains and the apps do not close or interferes with the uninstallation.

List of 6 methods and summary of difficulty and precautions

MethodOrder of difficulty
of operation
1 Easy <-> 6 Difficult
Precautions
① Keyboard shortcut
(Running apps list)
1・In rare cases,
can’t be killed
② Keyboard shortcut
(Direct kill)
4・Confirmation screen
is not displayed
・In rare cases,
can’t be killed
③ Dock2・In rare cases,
can’t be killed
④ Apple menu3・In rare cases,
can’t be killed
⑤ Activity Monitor.app5・In rare cases,
can’t be killed
⑥ Terminal.app6・High certainty,
but be careful
of operation mistakes

① Force quit the app from the keyboard shortcut (apps list display)

Mr. Otter
Mr. Otter

This method is the most recommended because it is difficult to make operational mistakes!

Little devil fox
Little devil fox

Even when your Mac freezes and you can’t operate the mouse, there are times when you can use the keyboard.

▶ On your keyboard, lightly press ⌥ option + ⌘ command + esc at the same time.

Mac US Keyboard

▶ A pop-up will display a list of running apps, “Force Quit Applications”, so select the app you want to forcibly terminate and click the “Force Quit” button.

The frozen app will be displayed as “not responding” as shown in the screen below.

(“App Store” does not respond in the screen below.)

Mac App Not Responding

② Force quit the app from the keyboard shortcut (Direct kill)

<meta charset="utf-8">Mr. Otter
Mr. Otter

This method does not display any confirmation screen and will be killed suddenly.

We have to be careful not to kill other apps by mistake!

<meta charset="utf-8">Little devil fox
Little devil fox

Even if you edit the file using Excel, the confirmation screen for saving the file does not appear.

Therefore, be sure to save the data that would be a problem if it disappears, even if it is not an app that you want to forcibly terminate!

▶ Look at the Apple menu and make sure the app you want to kill is in the foreground.

As an example, in the screen below, “Excel” is displayed on the right side of the apple mark, so you can see that this is the front display.

Mac Excel menu bar

On your keyboard, lightly press shift + ⌥ option + ⌘ command + esc at the same time.

The app will be forcibly terminated without displaying the confirmation screen.

Mac US Keyboard

③ Force quit the app from the Dock

▶ If you press and hold the app icon on the Dock with the touchpad or left mouse click, “Force Quit” will be displayed in the menu when the app is frozen, so select it.

In the figure below, the Excel icon in the Dock have been pressed and held.

Mac Force Quit App

▶ If the word “Force Quit” is not displayed, hold down the touchpad or left mouse click and press the ⌥ option key on your keyboard to display it.

If “Force Quit” is displayed, select it.

【Touchpad or left mouse click】

Mac Dock

Touchpad or left mouse click, and press ⌥ option

Mac Force Quit App

④ Force quit the app from Apple menu

▶ Look at the Apple menu and make sure the app you want to kill is in the foreground.

As an example, in the screen below, “Excel” is displayed on the right side of the apple mark, so you can see that this is the front display.

Mac Excel Menu Bar

▶ Click the apple mark on the upper left of your Mac and select “Apple” -> “Force Quit…” from the menu that appears.

Mac Excel Force Quit

⑤ Force quit the app from “Activity Monitor.app”

▶ From the “Applications” -> “Utilities” folder in the Mac Finder, double-click “Activity Monitor.app”.

Mac "Activity Monitor.app"

▶ When a screen like the one below opens, click to select the app you want to kill.

Then click the x mark in the upper left of the activity monitor to kill it.

Macのアクティビティモニター
Click to enlarge

⑥ Force quit the app from “Terminal.app”

<meta charset="utf-8">Mr. Otter
Mr. Otter

This method is a little more complicated than the methods introduced so far.

But even if other methods don’t work, this method often works.

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Mr. Otter

So give it a try when the other methods don’t work!

<meta charset="utf-8">Little devil fox
Little devil fox

To explain this method easily, look up the number called “process ID” of the app you want to kill, specify that number, and kill it.

<meta charset="utf-8">Little devil fox
Little devil fox

In addition to kill the apps that have stopped responding, it can also be used when the zombi process is resident and uninstalling the app does not work.

<meta charset="utf-8">Little devil fox
Little devil fox

Be careful not to accidentally terminate another process.

So, before you kill it, save the data that you don’t want to lose!

The operation method has the following two-stage steps.

  • i) Look up the “Process ID” of the app you want to kill in “Activity Monitor.app”
  • ii) Kill the “Process ID” in “Terminal.app”

i) Look up the “Process ID” of the app

▶ From “Applications” -> “Utilities” folder in the Mac Finder, double-click “Activity Monitor.app”.

Mac "Activity Monitor.app"

▶ When it starts and the following screen opens, check the number of “PID (Process ID)” of the app you want to kill.

As an example, in the screen below, the number is “25798” in Microsoft Excel.

Macのアクティビティモニター
Click to enlarge

ii) Kill the “Process ID” in “Terminal.app”

From “Applications” -> “Utilities” folder in the Mac Finder, double-click “Terminal.app”.

Mac "Terminal.app"

▶ When “Terminal.app” starts, type the following kill command and press return(enter).

kill (PID of the app you want to kill)

For example, if the PID is “25798”, “Terminal.app” screen will look like this:

Macのターミナルでkillコマンド実行
<meta charset="utf-8">Little devil fox
Little devil fox

Most apps can be killed this way.

In rare cases, there are apps that cannot be killed, but in such cases, try the following command.

The -9 option of the kill command has the meaning of stronger killing than usual.

▶ In “Terminal.app”, type the following kill command and press return(enter).

kill -9 (PID of the app you want to kill)

For example, if the PID is “25798”, “Terminal.app” screen will look like this:

Macのターミナルでkill -9コマンド実行

Reference information

Quit an app or process in Activity Monitor on Mac
Use Activity Monitor on your Mac to quit, force quit, or send a signal to terminate a process, if th...
How to Force Quit Apps or Programs on Mac
There are multiple ways to Force Quit Apps or Programs on your Mac. Force Quitting might be the only...
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Spa cat

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