HomeOS X HelpTroubleshootingOSX: Three Ways to Kill or Force Quit System Processes and Programs

7.2. OSX: Three Ways to Kill or Force Quit System Processes and Programs

OSX: Three Ways to Kill or Force Quit System Processes and Programs

There are at least three ways to restart crashed programs or faulty process that I know of. It doesn't happen very often, but right now I've got something that is causing one process to have a memory leak and I have to restart it once a day or so to get back that memory.

Force Quit Applications window

By pressing Cmd-Alt-Esc you will pop up this menu and you can select the program that has crashed and Force Quit.

Restart osx processes activity monitor 2

This works OK for PROGRAMS that appear, but there are processes that you can't see in this list. But this is the best and first place to look for crashed processes.

Using the Activity Monitor

For more detail on which programs are running use the Activity Monitor.

Restart osx processes activity monitor 1

The best way to open the Activity Monitor is to use Spotlight with the CMD-SpaceBar shortcut on your keyboard (most useful if the Dock has locked up). The select the thread that has crashed and select Quit Process.

Restart osx processes activity monitor 4

On this window, you should Quit for a soft reset, but use Force Quit if that doesn't work. Note that you may be asked to login – this is because you may be attempting to restart a system process that needs you to be authenticated as a superuser. If you are a novice computer person, then should probably consider rebooting your computer instead of killing processes. Of course, if you are attempting to save data before rebooting then, by all means, keep going.

Using the CLI / Terminal to Stop Process.

Open a Terminal windows using the Spotlight by


on the keyboard, then type


into the Spotlight search box.

Terminal Commands for Restarting Crashed Programs
The Finder
killall -KILL Finder
(you can also restart the Finder by option (=alt) + rightclicking the Finder icon in the Dock and selecting Relaunch. It doesn't always work though.)
The Dock
killall -KILL Dock
Doesn't happen often, but when it does.... Also use this if Spaces has crashed
MenuBar Locked
killall -KILL SystemUIServer
Some menu bar programs have system threads that aren't always perfect. You can't click on the menu bar. Most common use case

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