MacOS Kill Process: A Step-by-Step Guide to Ending Unresponsive Apps

Sometimes your Mac may start acting up, running slow, or an application just won’t quit. In these cases, you might need to kill a process to get your computer running smoothly again. Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds! Killing a process on macOS is a quick and straightforward task that can be done using the Activity Monitor or the Terminal app.

Step by Step Tutorial to Kill a Process on macOS

Before diving into the steps, it’s essential to understand what we’re about to do. Killing a process on your Mac means you’re going to forcefully shut down an application or task that is running. It’s like telling a marathon runner to stop in their tracks immediately. It can be useful when an app is unresponsive, and you can’t quit it the usual way.

Step 1: Open the Activity Monitor

Open the Activity Monitor app from your Applications folder or use Spotlight Search to find it.

The Activity Monitor is like the task manager for your Mac. It shows all the processes that are currently running on your system and provides information about their CPU, memory, energy, disk, and network usage.

Step 2: Find the Process You Want to Kill

In the Activity Monitor, look for the process you want to quit, and select it by clicking on it.

If you’re not sure which process is causing the problem, you can sort the list by CPU or memory usage to see which ones are using the most resources.

Step 3: Click on the "X" Button

Once you’ve selected the process, click on the "X" button in the upper left corner of the Activity Monitor window.

This is the force quit button. When you click it, a confirmation pop-up will appear, asking if you’re sure you want to quit the process.

Step 4: Confirm the Action

In the confirmation pop-up, click on "Force Quit" to kill the process.

Once you confirm, the process will be immediately terminated. This can be helpful if an app is frozen, and you can’t close it any other way.

After completing these steps, the problematic process will be terminated, and you should notice an improvement in your Mac’s performance. It’s always a good idea to save your work regularly, so you don’t lose any unsaved changes when you kill a process.

Tips for Killing a Process on macOS

  • Before killing a process, try quitting the application the usual way by right-clicking its icon in the Dock and selecting "Quit."
  • If a process is not responding, you can sometimes force it to quit by pressing Command + Option + Escape and selecting the unresponsive app.
  • Be careful when killing processes, as you might accidentally quit something important that your system needs to run correctly.
  • After killing a process, you can restart the app to see if it works better.
  • If you frequently need to kill the same process, it might be a sign of a deeper issue that you should investigate further.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a process on macOS?

A process is any task that your Mac is currently running. It could be an application like Safari or background tasks that keep your system running smoothly.

Can killing a process harm my computer?

Killing a process is generally safe, but it can lead to unsaved changes being lost. It’s best to use it as a last resort when an app is unresponsive.

How can I find out which process to kill?

You can sort processes in the Activity Monitor by CPU, memory, or disk usage to see which ones are taking up the most resources.

Is there a keyboard shortcut to open Activity Monitor?

No specific shortcut opens Activity Monitor by default, but you can quickly find it using Spotlight Search by pressing Command + Space and typing "Activity Monitor."

Can I kill a process using Terminal?

Yes, you can use the Terminal to kill processes with the ‘kill’ command and the process ID (PID). However, this is more advanced and not recommended for beginners.


  1. Open the Activity Monitor.
  2. Find the process you want to kill.
  3. Click on the "X" button.
  4. Confirm the action by clicking "Force Quit."


Killing a process on your Mac can be a handy trick to get out of a sticky situation when an app becomes unresponsive or is hogging resources. While it’s an essential skill for any Mac user, it’s also important to use it responsibly. Always try to quit apps normally before resorting to force quitting. And remember, if you’re regularly running into trouble with a particular app, there might be a bigger issue at play that needs addressing. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Apple Support or look for updates that might resolve the problem. Your Mac is a powerful tool, and with these tips, you can ensure it continues to run at its best. So, the next time an app is giving you the cold shoulder, you know what to do. Happy computing!