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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Process Manager: Force Quitting Applications

The final topic in this chapter is the force quit feature. The Macintosh has never had an effective and reliable method of quitting a "hung" application before the release of Mac OS X. Windows users are accustomed to pressing Control+Alt+Del to force an application to exit, but Mac users were stuck pressing Option+Command+Escape and hoping for the best. If a force quit worked without completely crashing Mac OS, it usually made the system unstable and forced a reboot within minutes.

With Mac OS X, the Option+Command+Escape keystroke still works, but now it brings up a process manager with a list of running applications, as shown in Figure 3.34. Applications that your Mac has identified as crashed are highlighted in red.

Figure 3.34Figure 3.34 Choose an application to kill, and then click Force Quit.

To force an application to exit, just choose it from the list and click Force Quit. This will terminate the application without reducing your system stability. If the Finder seems to be misbehaving, you can choose it from the application list and the Force Quit button will become Relaunch, allowing you to quit and restart the Finder without logging out.

You can also access the Force Quit feature from the Apple menu, or by opening the pop-up Dock menu for a running application and pressing the Option key to toggle the standard Quit selection to Force Quit.


Forcing an application to quit does not save any open documents. Be sure that the application is truly stalled, not just busy, before you use this feature.


Forcing an application to quit is the same as using the command-line function kill or killall. Learn more about the command line starting in Chapter 12.

Mac OS X offers another utility that can also force applications, including system processes, to quit. This program, ProcessViewer, will be discussed in Chapter 5, "Applications and Utilities."

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