Dealing with a Crashed Application or Operating System
Even though Windows 7 is fairly immune to crashing, the applications that run on it are not necessarily so robust. Not to be cynical, but many IS professionals don't consider any version of Windows worth their trouble until at least a service pack or two hit the streets, because they know that bugs tend to be prevalent in first-release software. Still, with an OS as complex as Windows 7, we bet there are a few gotchas lurking.
My point here is that you're going to bump into some unstable behavior from time to time. If you notice that a program isn't responding, you might have a crash on your hands. To gracefully survive a crash, possibly even without losing any of your data, try the following steps:
- Try pressing Esc. Some programs get stuck in the middle of a process and Esc can sometimes get them back on track. For example, if you accidentally pressed Alt, this activates the menus. A press of Esc gets you out of that loop. If you've opened a menu, two presses of Esc or a click within the application's window might be required to return to normal operation.
- Windows 7 has greatly improved application-management facilities. In most cases, even after an application has crashed, you should still be able to minimize, maximize, move, resize, and close its window.
- Can you switch to the app to bring its window up front? First try clicking any portion of the window. If that doesn't work, click its button in the taskbar. Still no? Try using successive presses of Alt+Tab. If you get the window open and responding, try to save any unfinished work in the app and then try to close it by clicking the Close button or selecting File, Exit.
- If that doesn't work, try right-clicking the program's button in the taskbar and choosing Close from the pop-up menu.
- If that doesn't work, press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to launch the Task Manager. Notice the list of running applications. Does the one in question say "Not responding" next to it? If so, click it and then click End Task.
- If Task Manager reports that you don't have sufficient access to terminate the task, you must reboot the system. First, attempt a graceful shutdown using the Shut Down option in the Start Menu. However, if that fails (that is, it hangs on the hung application or it never seems to complete the shutdown process), you need to resort to power-cycling. When the system reboots, you should be back to normal.