How can I prevent applications from being able to go fullscreen? Or, if this is not possible, how can I escape from fullscreen mode of a (possibly unresponsive) application, without quitting the application?

Here is the backstory for this question. I recently purchased Cave Story + on the app store, only to discover that it crashes when opened in Mavericks. Since the distributor doesn't appear interested in fixing the bug, I thought I might be able to fix it myself by tinkering with the executable. However, when I start up the application with lldb, it goes fullscreen, hits a breakpoint that I have set, and becomes unresponsive, leaving me locked out of my own computer.

  • 1
    have you tried pressing command + option and esc? It will load the force quit menu, giving you the option of quitting your application Feb 21, 2014 at 2:27
  • @user2277872 Yes, and it doesn't work. The screen stays black.
    – augurar
    Feb 22, 2014 at 21:42

2 Answers 2


It depends on how the application goes to full screen. If it is "standard" full screen that was introduced with Mavericks, moving the mouse cursor to the top of the screen should reveal the menubar with an option to "restore" the Window size.

Even if it is via another mechanism (vis special code), standard app switcher options should work. your options include:

  • Cmd + Tab - swicthes between apps
  • F3 on a standard Apple keyboard opens Mission Controls*
  • You can set up hot corners (System Preferences -> Desktop and Screensaver -> Hot Corners) to go to desktop or all windows by moving your mouse cursor to a corner of the screen to go to desktop or another app
  • Connect an additional monitor (if on a laptop)

*This is not technically F3. It is the shortcut got by pressing F3. You may have to Try Fn + F3 depending on how your heyboard is setup.

  • I don't have another monitor. The other suggestions don't work. Regarding hot corners, the mouse cursor isn't even visible on the screen.
    – augurar
    Feb 22, 2014 at 21:39
  • Can you post a screenahot of your full screen Window? CMD + Shift + 3 will take a screenshot and place it on the desktop.
    – Nivas
    Feb 22, 2014 at 22:53
  • It's just a black screen. Anyway, as the computer seems completely unresponsive, ⌘-Shift-3 probably won't work.
    – augurar
    Feb 25, 2014 at 3:43
  • Ok. I did not realize that the computer was not responsive. In that case I don't think even a second monitor would help. You may be able to see the code hitting the breakpoint or something like that, but you may not be able to do anything.
    – Nivas
    Feb 25, 2014 at 3:46
  • If I were able to switch to a terminal, everything would be fine. But with the OS apparently handing over complete control to the full-screen app, I can't interact with anything.
    – augurar
    Feb 25, 2014 at 4:12

If you have it enabled a 4 finger swipe should let you get to other applications.

  • Tried this but it doesn't work.
    – augurar
    Feb 22, 2014 at 21:38

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