How do I see a list of all running processes/tasks on macOS/OS X?

10 Answers 10


Inside Terminal, you can type ps aux

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Terminal is available under the utilities folder in the App folder.

  • 2
    Better yet, you can run pgrep -lf . to get all running processes with their PIDs and Names. Very useful if you want to kill a process as part of a script with pkill -x "name"
    – Aternus
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 10:11

Applications / Utilities > Activity Monitor

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  • 1
    How do I enable it to show ALL Processes? I'm an admin user but can only see my process Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 2:44
  • 8
    @MichaelBrown - View menu.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 6:19

You can use top -o mem inside terminal, to see running processes


You can use

top -o cpu


top -o rsize


ps aux


The app /Applications/Utilities/Activity Monitor is what you're looking for. If you use the command line in Terminal, the top command is useful too. In Terminal, type man top to see the various options. Activity Monitor shows you a wealth of information about each process.


To see the process names just by themselves with quotes and new lines, try this in Terminal:

ps axc | sed "s/.*:..... /\"/" | sed s/$/\"/

Try top -o +state, it will show all the running processes in the top of the 'top', however, below it will also show the sleeping processes.


Note: This solution requires pstree to be installed from either MacPorts (sudo port install pstree) or Homebrew (brew install pstree) first.

To understand the relationship between processes, pstree is your friend. Without any switches it will show ALL processes.

However, that produces quite some verbose output. To help narrow the search space for the issue, you can use the -u switch, to limit output to puke out only your own processes:

pstree -u YourUserName

I had high CPU activity and wanted to see what I did that was triggering it, so being able to see how processes were chained (spawned) was more interesting to me.

Anyhoo, hope this helps you narrow to isolate the cause of a system issue quicker.

  • 1
    Another useful option is -w to prevent the output to be truncated to the terminal width.
    – Martin R
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 11:15

If you need something in text mode but ps and top aren't good enough for you then try htop (installable with brew install htop) — it will interactively show the list of proceses (similar to Activity Monitor), as well as allow to do the following:

  • filter processes by name with /
  • kill with k
  • inspect a process with lsof with L
  • show the process tree hierarchy with t
  • sort by CPU, state, priority, memory, etc with F6
  • display CPU load per each core

Okay, look what I found:

You can use - Dock - Launch Menu (Just press Command + Option + ESC) - Install special app for that (e.g. Activity Monitor) - Look using terminal - Or use console commands

and that is not the full list! I founded all these methods here: https://osxtips.net/view-processes-mac/

Ofc, you can watch by yourself for more using google, bing, etc. C:

  • Welcome to Ask Different. I’m sure you’ll find this site has a lot to offer. Check out How do I write a good answer? on tips. - From Review
    – user310476
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 20:46

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