How to Exit out of a Frozen Computer Program

Sometimes a program will just not respond to any commands and will need to be forcibly shut down. There are a few different ways to do this, depending on the severity of the broken program, and your operating system.

Using Task Manager (Windows)

Hold down Ctrl + Alt + Del.

This combination of keys will open up a screen with four options: , , , and

Click on Task Manager.

Task Manager on Windows contains information about processes, programs, and services currently running on your system.

Switch to the Task Manager window.

If after clicking the link, you do not see any window pop up, it may be hidden behind the frozen program. Try pressing Alt+Tab ↹ to switch to the Task Manager window.

  • Solve this problem in the future by clicking on the Options tab in the upper left corner off the Task Manager window, then make sure Always on top is selected from the dropdown menu.

Find and click on the unresponsive program.

The program will likely be under the header. In the column, the unresponsive program will be marked by a tag.

Click End Task.

Once a program is selected and highlighted, click the button in the bottom right-hand corner of the Task Manager window. Click from the pop-up dialog box when prompted.

Click the Processes tab.

If ending the task from the Applications tab/list, you may have to end the actual process. If you are using Windows 8, you will have to click from the bottom of the Task Manager window to reveal the tab.

Find the process and click it.

There will be a lot more in the Processes list than in the Applications list, since it also lists background processes. You may need to search a bit to find your process.

Click End Process.

Once you have found and selected the correct process, click the button from the bottom right of the Task Manager window.

Using the Command Prompt (Windows)

Open Command Prompt as administrator.

Press ⊞ Win then type . Right-click the icon and select from the dropdown menu.

  • If prompted, select Yes from the pop-up dialog box.

Terminate the program.

Type into the Command prompt and press ↵ Enter. Replace ‘filename’ with whatever the title of the program is. For example, if you were trying to close iTunes, you would replace it with ‘iTunes.exe’.

Using Force Quit (Mac)

Open Force Quit.

Press Command + Option + Escape to open the Force Quit window. You will see a list of all active programs.

Force quit the program to close.

Find the unresponsive program, select it, then click the button in the bottom right of the window.


  • If your Mac is completely unresponsive, do a hard shut down by holding down the power button for 5-10 seconds. Then, restart your computer.
  • If none of the steps work, you may have to force restart your computer. While you do risk losing work, this may be your only option. Press and hold the Power button until your computer shuts off. Power it up again after a few minutes.

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