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3 methods to force quit an application in Mac OS X - fixedByVonnie

3 methods to force quit an application in Mac OS X

Help my Mac is frozen!

Contrary to popular belief, PCs aren’t the only machines beleagured by hanging apps and vulnerable applications.

In fact, according to 2014 data from the National Vulnerabilities Database compiled by Christian Florian at GFI, the most vulnerable operating system (based on number of vulnerabilities) is the Mac.

Say what?!

Yup, and if you take a bite out of that Apple you might get sick.

Surprisingly, PC’s have been ousted from the number one spot.  Don’t let dogmatic Mac morons lampoon your PC anymore.  Macs are just as bad as PCs when it comes to being susceptible to Malware.  Both camps need to be vigilant against the latest malware threats so let the finger pointing cease!

Today, I want to show you three quick tricks for regaining your sanity when your cursor transforms into the infamous spinning beach ball.

Let’s go!

Quick! Force Quit!

Imagine if you could kick a bad habit by simply shouting three magic words.

You’re a chain smoker with a desperate desire to stop. You’ve tried everything from the bad tasting gum to community groups and now you’re at your wits end.  Until one day – one day – you realize all you need to do is exclaim three magic words with every last ounce of passion in your body:

Quit Smoking Now!

Bizzam! your insatiable lust for cigarettes vaporizes and you can live a long happy life.

If only it were that easy.

Well when it comes to closing unruly apps on your Mac, it actually is that easy.  Except, instead of shouting at your Mac you just need to master the art of the ECO… eco… eco…

ECO is my acronym for Escape + Command + Option.

Hitting this enigmatic three finger shortcut will conjure up the Force Quit Application dialog box and let you close those intractable apps.

Force Quit an application the long way in Mac OS X Yosemite

If that doesn’t seem to do anything use ECOS: Escape + Command + Option + Shift.

Hit this bad boy and the application in the foreground will immediately self destruct.  Of course, when you do this, you’ll forfeit any unsaved changes but if the application was frozen you probably already gave up data recovery rights anyway.

Incidentally, if Escape + Command + Option + Shift doesn’t seem to do anything – mash it two or three times.  Don’t worry, I’m not committing the “elevator fallacy” (the faster and harder you press the elevator button the quicker it’ll arrive). I actually had to press this finger twisting key combo three painful times before I was able to kill my troubled browser.

Now my index finger is twitching like I’m drugged up on acid.  Oh the joys of being a geek.

Oh and by the way, there’s one more trick:

Let’s say the bouncy icon in the doc is really pissing you off because it never opens.  To force it to quit quickly, click and hold the mouse or touchpad button then while still holding down the clicker, press and hold Control + Option.

If you did it right you should see the Hide and Quit options on the context menu magically transmute into Hide Others and Force Quit!

Who knew the Mac was full of so many delicious secrets?

Get geeky with the command line

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Matrix.  Not the second and third versions (those are stupid) but the first one.  The first one was revolutionary.  It was unprecedented.  It was groundbreaking.

Part of the pull of The Matrix is that it inspires me to be smart.  I want to know how to interpret complex code and solve problems and see through the semicolons, silly syntax errors and software bugs.

When I’m at the command line I feel powerful.  I feel like I’m sitting at a control panel which gives me maximum freedom to express my ideas.  It’s like my canvas.

The command prompt is a coders canvas.

And one neat feature about the command prompt – wait let me stop calling it that – it’s technically a command line not prompt – anyway, one neat feature about the command line is you can manually tell intransigent processes to commit suicide.

That’s right.  The next time Chrome cops out or the Mail app acts like an ass hit Command + Spacebar to bust open Spotlight.  

Now type “Terminal” and mash the Enter key like you mean it.

Terminal in Spotlight in Mac OS X Yosemite

In the terminal window, type: top -o rsize to see which apps are slurping up all your memory.  Then hit top -o cpu to see which apps are draining your CPU.

Terminal in Mac OS X Yosemite

When you find the ungrateful processing pigging out on your resources, slap some sense into it by noting the first column: it should say PID with a long number that you wish represented how much money you earned last week at your job.

Alright, now remember that PID number like it’s the powerball for your lottery jackpot.  We’re going to exit the top command by pressing q and then type kill followed by the PID that needs to die.

Activity Monitor = your Mac’s EKG

You probably know from the hit TV sitcom Grey’s Anatomy that an EKG is a fancy test to trace the electrical activity of the human heart.  It basically records muscle contractions in a visual format so doctors can figure out what’s wrong with you.

Well the Activity Monitor is your Mac’s EKG.  When apps are crashing and your world is dissolving like wax, it’s time to see what’s going on in a friendly visual format.

Bust open the Spotlight thing again but this time type…

wait for it…

wait for it…

“activity monitor”. (I didn’t have to tell you that though, you knew that)

There’s a bunch of crap in a bunch of columns but all you care about are CPU and Memory.

Force Quit an application in Mac OS X Yosemite

Click the CPU column header to see which app is giving your Mac a major migraine.  Then hit up the Memory column to see which apps is making your Mac bitchy.  When you find the rude process responsible for enervating your machine, select it and click the black x in the upper left corner of the window.

Your mac faithfully warns you if this is what you really want to do.  And you say, “Well, no I don’t want to do this but my stupid app keeps crashing so I don’t have a choice” and you lamentably click “Force Quit”.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to snapping your Mac back into the shape, nothing beats a good ol’ force quit.


  • Use Escape + Command + Option (ECO) to enumerate your apps and manually choose which one to kill
  • Use Escape + Command + Option + Shift (ECOS) to immediately kill the active app
  • Click and hold the bad app icon in the Doc while pressing Control + Option to Force Quit that app.
  • Usetop -o rsizetop -o cpu and kill pid (where PID represents the process ID of the bad process. For example, kill 49403)
  • Use the Activity Monitor as an EKG to quickly identify bad processes

There you go.  Now your a task killing pro.  Go on with your bad self hahaha.


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Posted in Windows, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Tagged with: ,