How to Force Quit a Mac If It’s Frozen

Here's how to force quit and restart your Mac if it's frozen. This tip works for laptop and desktop Macs.

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

You can force restart your iMac or MacBook if it freezes. Using force quit is the last option you should try if your Mac is frozen, because you may lose work you haven't saved. If possible, shut down your Mac by opening the Apple menu and choosing Shut Down. If your cursor won't move, though, here's how to force quit and restart a Mac.

Related: How to Cut, Copy & Paste Using Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

How to Force Quit on a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air & iMac

Let's get started learning how to force quit on a Mac. If your issue is actually with frozen apps on your Mac and not the whole computer, learn how to force quit Mac apps instead. For more great advice on what to do when your Apple devices glitch or freeze, check out our free Tip of the Day.

The first and easiest method:

  1. Hold down the Power button until your Mac shuts down.
  2. Wait a minute or two, then press the Power button again until your Mac reboots.

If that hasn't worked, and your keyboard has an Eject key:

  1. Press and hold the Control (Ctrl) key and the Eject key (it has a triangle shape over a horizontal line).
  2. A menu will pop up with Shut Down highlighted.

    shut down mac
  3. Hit the Enter key to confirm you want to Shut Down. 

If your Mac still hasn't shut down:

  1. Press and hold the Command key, the Control (Ctrl) key, and the power button or Touch ID/eject button, depending on which Mac you own.
  2. The screen will go blank, then dark, and then your Mac will restart.

For any of these options, your browser may offer the option to restore the force closed tabs.

restore tabs

If your MacBook repeatedly crashes or freezes, visit Apple Diagnostics to learn if your Mac has a hardware issue. Next, learn how to force restart your iPhone and iPad to troubleshoot software issues.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.


Author Details

Leanne Hays's picture

Author Details

Leanne Hays

Leanne Hays is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, and has written hundreds of in-depth how-to and troubleshooting articles. She's a former Associate Editor for iPhone Life magazine, and has written for the Iowa Source, as well as web content for education marketing. Leanne has an associate's degree in education, with a focus on curriculum development, as well as a bachelor's degree in science. She has over nine years of experience with SEO, social media management, and web development and writing. Despite years of web work, Leanne is by no means an early adapter; she's only owned a smartphone for five years, which makes her highly sympathetic to the learning curve of new iPhone owners. She enjoys making reader's lives easier and putting her education experience to work by walking them through the most practical ways to use Apple devices, step-by-step.

In off-work hours, Leanne is a mother of two, homesteader, audiobook fanatic, musician, and learning enthusiast.