How to Kill an Application When Force Quit Doesn't Work

Posted November 26, 2009 at 3:04pm by iClarified | Please help us and submit a translation by clicking here | 42839 views

These are instructions on how to kill a frozen application on your Mac. You may need to do this if your application has stopped responding and will not close. Make sure you attempt to Force Quit using these steps first before continuing.

Step One
Launch Terminal from your Applications:Utilities folder.

Step Two
Input the command top into the Terminal window then press the Enter key.

Step Three
You will be displayed a list of running processes on your system. Notice each process is assigned a PID. Locate the process that is not responding and take note of its PID.

If you do not see your process on the short list drag the handle at the bottom right of the window downwards to display more of the list.

Press the q button to quit top.

Step Four
Input kill followed by the PID of the process you would like to close into the Terminal window. For example, if we wanted to close uTorrent top revealed that its PID was 38209. So we would input kill 38209 then press the Enter key.

Step Five
The application has now been forcefully killed and is no longer running.

Add Comment
Kuro Titania - April 25, 2015 at 2:15am
Im trying to close uTorrent with the same method but it won't show up on "top" when it is clearly in dock and refuses me to log off my mac because it is "in use" when i can't even open the app myself anymore because of all the attempts to delete it.
Erin - March 6, 2010 at 2:08am
Thanks for this but I am trying to close damn Carbonite and cannot force quit... cannot trashi it because it is running. After trying this it said \"not permitted\" Is there a way around that? I will go try the 9 part now.
Ari Weinstein - January 23, 2010 at 4:41pm
Is there any reason to look up the PID yourself and use kill? Why not just use killall instead? For example, \"killall Safari\" will kill Safari. Also, I find that force quitting three times in a row seems to do something more than just force quitting once, and will get rid of just about any frozen app. If that doesn\'t work, a regular killall probably won\'t suffice either, so I have to resort to -9, as in \"killall -9 Safari\", which will kill it basically no matter what.
Paddy - August 31, 2014 at 12:28am
Thanks for killall Appname solution Loved that one. I had FreeMemory running, would not show up in Forcequit, wold not show up in top option or was unidentifiable by me. Hover cursor showed spinning wheel, app not in bottom bar and not shown in all windows. Killall app found and stopped the app - so once again thanks
Owen Densmore - November 27, 2009 at 1:30pm
Most of the kill stunts I\'ve known about but one is really illusive: what happens when the window manager freezes. You can\'t get at a terminal and you can\'t get at the Force Quit menus or application. Once I hit the power-off button and it came up with the \"are you sure\" dialog, and that revived the window system to get on with, whew! But often I have to resort to the old \"hold the power button for 5 seconds\" solution. When I ran into that problem at Sun where I worked for years, you had a friend remote login to your system and kill the process from their system. But I see no work-any-time solution for the Mac, alas. Sigh!
nerd - November 26, 2009 at 3:45pm
kill has options. option -9 is force and sometimes necessary hence: kill -9 123456
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