3 Effective Methods to Force Quit Frozen Applications on Windows

We’ve all experienced it: that dreaded moment when an app or browser on your Windows computer becomes completely unresponsive. You try to close it the usual way, but your mouse refuses to cooperate or clicking the “X” does nothing. Now you’re faced with the possibility of an operating system crash and wasted time, unless you take action.

The solution is simple: force quit the troublesome app before it causes further issues. In Windows 10 and 11, there are several ways to do this. Let’s explore three effective methods to force quit on Windows.

How to Force Quit Using the Keyboard

Step 1: Press CTRL + Shift + ESC

This keyboard shortcut opens the renowned Task Manager, displaying all the currently running apps and their resource usage. Locate the unresponsive app, select it, and click on “End task” to forcefully quit it.

Using Task Manager is also beneficial for monitoring your app’s memory usage. If you notice a high percentage, it could be a sign of RAM-related troubles that lead to crashes. To improve your situation, consider closing some memory-intensive apps and background processes.

Task Manager can also act as a diagnostic tool. If the shortcut successfully launches Task Manager and you can interact with it, that’s a positive sign. However, if you’re unable to use Task Manager, it indicates broader operating system issues.

Task Manager in Windows 11
Image: Task Manager in Windows 11

Step 2: Try ALT + F4

If you don’t want to go through the Task Manager or can’t access it, this alternative shortcut is worth a try. It bypasses the intermediary steps and immediately force quits the current app you’re using. Press ALT + F4 once and wait a few seconds for the app to respond.

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If this method fails, you can try pressing the FN key to activate the indicator light, and then attempt the keyboard shortcut again. This step may be required on some portable devices like Microsoft’s Surface laptops.

Remember, the ALT + F4 shortcut only works on the app you’re currently using. Don’t navigate away from the frozen app, or you might mistakenly close something else.

App Shutdown Shortcut
Image: App Shutdown Shortcut

Step 3: Windows Key + X > Command Prompt

If Task Manager isn’t accessible or you prefer a direct approach, you can use the Command Prompt to run specific commands for shutting down apps. Note that in some Windows versions, the Command Prompt option may be labeled as Windows PowerShell. Follow these steps:

  1. Press the Windows Key + X, and from the menu that appears, select Command Prompt.
  2. Once the Command Prompt opens, type “tasklist” and press Enter. This command will display a list of currently running tasks, similar to Task Manager. Locate the program you want to close and note its name.
  3. Now, enter the command: taskkill /im ProgramName.exe /t /f (Replace “ProgramName” with the actual name of the app from the task list)
  4. Press Enter, and the specified program should automatically close.

Tasklist in Windows
Image: Tasklist in Windows

What if the Frozen Window Won’t Close?

If none of the aforementioned methods work, the problem may affect your entire operating system. In such cases, it’s advisable to reboot your PC entirely.

Try the keyboard shortcut CTRL + ALT + DEL. If it works, a Settings menu will appear, allowing you to select the Power button located in the lower right corner. Choose “Shut down” to initiate a complete system shutdown.

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If your keyboard shortcuts aren’t functioning at all, you have one final option: use the manual power button. Press and hold the Power button until your PC forcibly shuts down. If necessary, press the Power button again to turn it back on.

If your apps continue to freeze and cause problems, it’s essential to identify the root cause. Consider updating your operating system or BIOS to fix any underlying issues. Additionally, always ensure your third-party apps are up to date. Conversely, if a recent update triggered the freezing problems, it might be worth reverting to a previous version of the operating system.

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OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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