How to force a Mac OS X program to quit (the almost-equivalent to the Windows task manager?)

First published on February 16, 2007

I’ve found that Mac OS X is certainly more stable than Windows, but once in a while, an application does freeze (argh NeoOffice!). When all hope is lost, you just want to close the program and cut your losses.

In Windows I love the Task Manager (either right-click on the taskbar and choose Task Manager or press ctrl-alt-delete) where I can force a program to quit. In Mac OS X, you can sometimes right-click (well, if you have a one-button mouse, ctrl-click) the program icon (in the taskbar-equivalent, whatever it’s called) and choose “Force quit”. If you can’t do that, try venturing into the Terminal program.

Edit: As you can tell, I am new to the Mac. As Chris has pointed out, you can just press Command-Option-Esc to access the Force Quit window…

Once in the Terminal, you can do the following:

1a) Type in “top” and press Enter. Find your program on the list and note the number on the left column.
1b) Type in “ps -ax|grep yourapp” and press Enter, if you know the system name for your program. For example, NeoOffice is “soffice.bin” so I used “soffice” in place of “yourapp”. Again, note the number on the left column.
2) Type “kill -9 thenumberyounoted” and press Enter. You need the “-9″ in addition to the number you noted.

Hopefully your program has been forcibly closed. Worked for me…


10 Responses to “How to force a Mac OS X program to quit (the almost-equivalent to the Windows task manager?)”

  1. chris says:

    Command-Option-Esc opens the Force Quit window.

  2. Jasmine says:

    This is an old post, and you may have figured this out now, but if you have a single click mouse you can access the right click menu by simply holding down the click button for about three seconds. This doesn't work for all programs, but does for Firefox and Safari

  3. Jessica Hoagland says:

    Thx for this post, which helped me out today.

    btw, can you post a force-quit hot-key for my kids, who won’t stop squabbling after one too many snow days? ;-)

  4. Peter says:

    Hi Jessica, as chris posted, you can use Command-Option-Esc. However, if you want an even shorter method, or you want to automatically trigger a computer shutdown, you can probably create your own shortcuts as described here:

  5. James says:

    I’ve recently got an imac too – this post was really useful. Firefox just froze up on me.

    Good to know there is still hope when that happens ;)

  6. john says:

    where is the options in mac

  7. Casey says:

    Thanks for you’re help! much appreciated.

  8. John Smith says:

    Incase anyone is wondering, the "option" button is the one w/ the celtic squiggle next to the space bar.

  9. yourethebest says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. program wouldn’t let me quit/shut down. now its gone! YES!

  10. dandandin says:

    @john smith no that’s the command key

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