It’s happened to most of us. You are using a program, and it freezes and becomes inaccessible. You must force quit the program to continue using your computer as you normally would.
- How to Force Quit on Windows (Any App)
- What does it mean to force quit applications?
- Using Windows Task Manager
- How to force close a program using a keyboard shortcut
- Using the command line
- The causes of software behaving this way
- Why you would need to know this
To force quit an application:
- Open the Task Manager.
- Find the application or process by looking at the details tab first. (You may have to select More details first for those users opening the Task Manager for the first time.)
- Right-click on the item you wish to force quit and select End task.
We will cover the process in more detail with illustrations to show you how.
Whether you want to force quit an application in Windows 10 or 11, the process is very similar, and the step-by-step process can be used for both versions of Windows.
It is usually necessary to force quit apps that have stopped responding. Such an application’s window usually turns white. A message near the title informs you of this.
How to Force Quit on Windows (Any App)
What does it mean to force quit applications?
To force quit an application or program running in Windows means you don’t rely on the standard method of closing one using its menus or other close buttons.
You are telling Windows to close the program instead of the application closing itself.
It also means that data loss can occur when specific applications are forced to close this way. You can try recovery software to recover your files if this has occurred.
This can occur when the application is busy writing to a database or a file (or other processes that can be affected) and gets shut off during this writing process.
Databases and files can easily become corrupted as data may be stored incorrectly, leaving behind garbled characters and making the database or files unreadable.
In most cases, this results in the program failing to start the next time or being unable to read stored information within the program.
Using Windows Task Manager
These steps show you the easiest and quickest method without getting too technical.
- Open the Task Manager window by right-clicking on the Start Menu button. (Click on More Details if need be.)
- Select the Details tab.
- Find the program in the list that you wish to force quit.
- Right-click on the application and select End task.
If you find it easier, you can also left-click on the application and click on the End task button in the bottom right-hand corner of the Task Manager window once the program is selected.
Note: In step 2, you could instead select the processes tab, however items listed there change position all the time and it might be a little challenging selecting your application.
How to force close a program using a keyboard shortcut
To force close an application using your keyboard, press and hold down the Alt key, tap the F4 key, and release the Alt key. (Alt + F4). This will work for any version of Windows.
Important: If you don’t have the application selected first, the keyboard won’t work. To make sure it’s selected click anywhere in it or in the border where the title is displayed. For fullscreen applications or games, hold down the Alt key and tap the Tab key repeatedly until it is selected. Release the Alt key once the app has been selected.
Using the command line
- Open the Command Prompt window by using the search feature in the taskbar and typing in command prompt. Then left-click on Run as administrator.
- Type tasklist into the Command Prompt application to see the task list of applications and other background processes currently running.
- Type in the following command:
taskkill /IM "YOUR-APPLICATION.exe" /F
Note: Just remember to change YOUR-APPLICATION.exe to the application you want to force quit. Leave the double quote in place as this allows you to add spaces between words without messing with the taskkill command parameters.
The causes of software behaving this way
There are various reasons why applications can lock up or freeze. Here are some insights into the common root causes of this.
Some programs have minor glitches in them, referred to as bugs. These bugs are caused by the program’s code that isn’t complete enough to make it run smoothly under a wide range of usage-type scenarios.
Bugs can also occur under certain compatibility conditions associated with frameworks, APIs, or Windows versions.
This reason can also cause applications to continue running in the background as a process unseen by your desktop.
These kinds of programs are harder to track down as you can only see them using the Task Manager as one method I could mention.
Sometimes a PC might not function optimally, causing programs to malfunction and causing it to crash or freeze up.
Hardware issues like overheating can be another reason a program locks up and requires you to force quit the application.
Malicious software infections
Use Windows Security to perform a scan of your drives. If that fails, download a free antivirus program (Avast is recommended to name one example), or select a premium paid-for solution.
I highly recommend a boot-time scan with your choice of antivirus software. It helps eliminate services or programs running in memory that prevent eradicating harmful files.
Why you would need to know this
You must force the application to close when a program freezes or hangs indefinitely.
One of the main reasons is that it could impede a proper shutdown process when you want to turn your computer off.
Another reason is that the program could use valuable resources like CPU load or memory consumption.
I’ve found that Microsoft Outlook is a common example of needing to force quit an app because it doesn’t always close cleanly.
If you go to shut down your computer but find you have Windows telling you that applications are still running that prevent you from doing so, is one example.
As explained in this article, you can either shut Windows down anyway or go back to your desktop, open the Task Manager, and force quit Outlook.
Those are the main methods of forcing a program to quit. They should work for any application. The Task Manager method is the easiest way out of the methods shown.
And having a better understanding of why and the consequences of force-quitting allows you to perform this task more responsibly.
However, there will always be a future application that will freeze up on you, leaving you no choice but to end it forcefully.
I hope this article has helped you so that you can handle misbehaving apps quickly and easily.