HomeTechnologyHow to Force-Quit a Program in Windows

How to Force-Quit a Program in Windows

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Have you ever tried to close any program in Windows but the X selections don’t work?

Sometimes, you might be lucky enough to get Windows to tell you that a program has stopped responding.

Sometimes, you will only get a Not Responding message from the program’s titlebar and a full screen gray-out. This makes it clear that the program is not moving fast enough.

Worst, some programs can freeze or lock up in a way your operating systems cannot detect and notify you about. This leaves you wondering if there is a problem with your touchscreen or mouse buttons.

This article applies to Windows 10, 8, 7 Vista, and XP. Separate instructions are available for force quitting software in Windows 11.

Windows offers several methods to force quit a program.

Although they may seem similar, many methods to force a program to close aren’t the same as unlocking locked files.

Do you need to force-uninstall an application instead of shutting it down? IObit uninstaller is the best program uninstaller.

Use ALT + F4 to close the program


The very useful and well-known keyboard shortcut ALT + F4 performs the same program-closing magic as clicking or tapping the X at the top-right program window.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Click or tap on the program to bring it to the forefront.

    Try AL+ Tab to help you navigate through open programs using the TAB key (keep /ALT down) until you get to the program you desire.

  2. Hold one of the or ALT keys and press.

  3. Holding the Altkey down while you press F4 one time.

  4. Both keys can be let go.

Step 1 is extremely important. You can select another program or app and it will close. Windows will close if there is no program selected. However, you can cancel it before it occurs.

It is equally important that you tap the ALTkey only once. Holding it down will cause each program to close, and the next one will follow suit. You’ll eventually be asked to close Windows. To close an app or program that isn’t closing, tap the ALT key only once.

AL+ HTML4 is the same as using the X to force-close an open program. This method is only useful if the program in question works to some extent. It won’t close any other processes this program “spawned”, at any time since its beginning.

This force-quit technique can be very helpful in situations where your wireless mouse’s batteries have died, your touchpad drivers or touchscreen aren’t working properly, or any other type of navigation that you use.

ALT+ HTML4 is still very easy to do.

Task Manager can be used to force the program to quit


ALT+ F4 failed to do the trick. truly forcing unresponsive programs to quit is best done via Task manager.

Here’s how:

  1. Use the CTRL+ + SHIFT keyboard shortcut to open Task Manager

    If this doesn’t work, or you don’t have access to your keyboard (depending on which version of Windows), right-click on the Desktop taskbar or tap-and hold on it and choose Start Task Manager from the popup menu.

  2. Next, locate the app or program you wish to close. Task Manager will direct you to the process that supports it.

    It sounds complicated, but it is not. However, the exact details will vary depending on which version of Windows you have.

    Windows 10 & 8 : Locate the program that you wish to close in the Processingtab. It will be listed under the Appsheading. After you have found it, click or tap-and hold on it to select .

    If Task Manager doesn’t show the Processestab it could be that Task Manager is not fully visible. Select For more information, scroll down to the Task Manager window.

    Windows 7, Vista & XP – Find the program that you are looking for in the Applicationtab. Right-click the program and click Go to Process.

    It’s tempting to just End task from the pop-up menu. But don’t. This might work for some programs but it is not the best way to force quit.
  3. Right-click on or tap-and hold the highlighted item and choose End Process Tree.

    If you are using Windows 10 or Windows 8 or the Processings tab, you should be there.

  4. In the warning, click or tap End Process Tree. This warning appears in Windows 10, for instance.

    Are you able to close the process tree for [program name]? Open programs and processes that are part of this process tree will be closed. You will also lose any data. It is possible for system instability to occur if you close a system process. Are you certain you want to go on?

    This is a great thing. It means that the program you want to close will actually close. Also, Windows will end any processes that started that program began. These are likely to also be hung up, but harder to find.
  5. Close Task Manager

That’s it! It should have been closed immediately, but it may take several seconds if the program had many child processes or was using large system memory.

See? It’s as easy as pie… unless it doesn’t work, or Task Manager won’t open. If Task Manager fails to work, here are some other ideas:

Don’t be confused by the program! (Prompting Windows for Help)


This is probably not the best advice you have ever seen, so let us explain.

Sometimes, it is possible to give a problem program a push off the cliff. This can put it in a full-blown freeze state and send a message to Windows telling it to terminate.

Do as many things as possible in the program to accomplish this goal, even if they don’t do anything due to the program crashing. You can click on the menu items repeatedly, drag them around, open and close field fields, and exit as many times as you like.

If this is true, you will see a window with the heading “Program Name” is not responding”. This usually includes options such as Check for a solution, restart the program, Close it, Wait for the program’s response, End Now (in older Windows versions).

To do this, tap or click Close the program or Stop Now.

To…Kill the Task, execute the TASKKILL command!


One last trick that can force a program to quit is available, but it’s a complex one. One command on Windows is called taskkill. It kills the task that you have specified, entirely from the command.

This trick works great when your computer is unable to function normally due to malware.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Open Command prompt. Open an elevated Command Prompt is not necessary. Any method to open it is fine.

    Run is a common way to open Command Prompt on all Windows versions, even Safe Mode. Simply open it using the WIN+ R keyboard shortcut, and then run cmd.

  2. This is how to execute the taskkill command:

    taskkill/im filename.exe.t /f

    …replacing filename.exe by the filename of the program that you wish to close. The /t option ensures that any child processes are also closed, while the /f option terminates the process.

    In the rare case doesn’t have the filename but does have the PID (process ID), then you can use taskkill instead.

    taskkill/pid processid/t /f
    …replacing processid by the PID of your program to force quit. The Task Manager is the best place to find the PID of a running program.

  3. You should immediately force-quit the app or program that you have created via taskkill.

    SUCCESS. Sent termination signal to the process with PID [pidnumber], child of PID[pidnum]. SUCCESS: Process with PID [pidnum] child of PID[pidnum] has been completed.

    If you receive an ERROR reply that states that a process was missing, make sure that you have entered the correct filename and PID.

    The response will contain the first PID. This is the PID of the program you are closing. The second PID is for Explorer.exe. This is the program that runs the Desktop and Start Menu.

  4. Even if taskkill fails, you will need to restart the computer. This is basically a force-quit for all programs running, even Windows.

How to force-quit running programs on non-Windows machines


Sometimes, software programs and apps stop responding to Apple, Linux and other operating systems. This is not an issue that only affects Windows machines.

Force quitting on a Mac is easiest done via the Dock or the force quit option in the Apple menu. To open Force Quit Applications, you can also hit the Command+ + Escape key combination.

The xkillcommand in Linux is a simple way to force close a program. To kill a program, open a terminal window and type the command. You can find more information in our list Linux Terminal Commands that Will Rock Your World.

Open ChromeOS Task Manager by using SHIF+ ESC. Next, select the program that you wish to terminate and click the End Process button.

Double-press the Home button to force close an app on iPad or iPhone. Next, swipe the up app as if it were being thrown off the device.

Android devices follow a similar procedure: swipe up from bottom of screen, then swipe the unresponsive app up even more, to remove it from the screen. For some Android devices, you can tap the square multitasking button and find the app that isn’t responding. Then, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to remove it.


  • How can I close windows quickly using shortcuts?

    Close windows can be done by pressing the shortcut + Spacebar+ . Hold the Alt keys and then press the Spacbar key to open the context menu. Now release both keys and press C.

  • What is the Shutdown Command?

    To power off, restart or hibernate your computer, use the Shutdown command in Windows. Remotely, you can also shut down and restart a computer.

  • How can I disable Windows startup programs?

    To disable startup apps in Windows go to Settings> Apps Startup. You can toggle individual apps to activate/deactivate their startup status. Next, restart your computer.

  • How can I close my web browser quickly?

    To quickly close a web browser from a computer, use the alt+ shortcut. To hide active browser windows on a Mac, you can use Cmd+ or Cmd+ Q to quit.

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