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How to 'Control+Alt+Delete' on a Mac computer, and force quit unresponsive apps

Business Insider logo Business Insider 12/18/2020 stevenjohn23@gmail.com (Steven John)
calendar: If your Mac isn't working right, try force quitting programs. YouTube/Screenshot/Business Insider © YouTube/Screenshot/Business Insider If your Mac isn't working right, try force quitting programs. YouTube/Screenshot/Business Insider
  • If you want force an app or program to quit on your Mac, you can use a similar keyboard shortcut to PC's Control+Alt+Delete.
  • Force quitting a program will sacrifice any unsaved changes, so do it with care.
  • In addition to the keyboard shortcut, there are two other ways to force quit a troublesome program. 
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Sometimes in life, you just have to cut your losses and call it quits. This is certainly the case when your Mac is giving you trouble with a program that's either frozen, or running so slowly that you just can't take it anymore. Rather than sitting there glaring at that rainbow-colored "spinning wheel of death," instead just use a force quit override to shut down the program. Then you can restart it and, ideally, get some actual work done.

Just remember that when you force quit a program on Mac, you may lose unsaved work. Sometimes an autosave function will come to the rescue, and you can opt to have websites reopen if you have to quit your browser, but force quitting often means losing some work, so use it only as a last resort.

While PC users have the Control+Alt+Delete shortcut, famously known as the "three-finger salute,"  Mac users have an equally effective way to take the control back from the computer. Here are the three ways to force quit on a Mac.

How to force quit on a Mac using a keyboard shortcut

a close up of a computer keyboard: Pressing Command + Option + Escape on a Mac is equivalent to pressing Control + Alt + Delete on a PC. Apple/Business Insider © Apple/Business Insider Pressing Command + Option + Escape on a Mac is equivalent to pressing Control + Alt + Delete on a PC. Apple/Business Insider

1. Press the "Command," "Option," and "Escape" keys. Note that the Option key is also sometimes referred to as "Alt," and that the Escape key just reads "Esc."

2. The Force Quit window will pop up.

3. Select the application you'd like to close and select "Force Quit."

graphical user interface, text, application, chat or text message: Select the program you want to close. Business Insider © Business Insider Select the program you want to close. Business Insider

How to force quit on a Mac through the Apple menu 

1. Click on the Apple logo at the top left corner of the screen.

2. In the dropdown menu that appears, hit "Force Quit..."

graphical user interface, application, Word: Select "Force quit..." Steven John/Business Insider © Steven John/Business Insider Select "Force quit..." Steven John/Business Insider

3. The same force quit pop-up menu will appear. Select the offending program and hit "Force quit."

How to force quit on a Mac through the Dock

1. Locate the program you want to quit in your Mac Dock.

2. While holding down the "Option" key, right-click on the program and select "Force quit."

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