What are all the ways to kill a buggy GUI app?

I can't right-click on its icon in the whatever-its-called bar, or use the top-of-window menu. The app does not respond to anything, and does nothing but eat more and more memory as times goes on.

In Linux, there's xkill. Is there something similar on OSX?

7 Answers 7


You can access the Force Quit dialog box by pressing ++esc, or using the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) and choosing Force Quit.... Select the problem app, and click the Force Quit button.

enter image description here

You can also kill an app using the command line (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal):

killall 'Google Chrome'

You can also use the Activity Monitor app (/Applications/Utilities). Select an app and click the Quit button: enter image description here Then, from the dialog that slides down, click Force Quit.

  • 1
    Very comprehensive :)
    – stuffe
    Aug 16, 2011 at 22:01
  • 5
    Holding ⌥⇧⌘⎋ for a few seconds also quits the frontmost application.
    – Lri
    Aug 17, 2011 at 22:29
  • 1
    @Lri Hey, I didn't now abou that one! Cool! Aug 17, 2011 at 22:37
  • @Lri Very cool! I will have to keep that one in mind.
    – daviesgeek
    Aug 17, 2011 at 22:47

Another way from the Terminal:

ps auxww | grep -i 'google chrome' | grep -v grep | awk '{ print $2 }' | xargs kill

Or to force kill:

ps auxww | grep -i 'google chrome' | grep -v grep | awk '{ print $2 }' | xargs kill -9 

This can be helpful if the screen isn't responding or you get Spinning Wheel of Death, but are able to somehow get to the terminal (e.g.: via SSH)


All the ways? There's always another way :-)

Sometimes + will get focus away from the app so you can talk to the Dock or Finder.

++esc should bring up the Force Quit dialog box.

If you have/can get to a Terminal window, there's the kill command.

If you have another machine and have enabled remote login, you can ssh in to your machine and issue a kill even if the GUI won't respond at all (and if kill doesn't work there's always sudo reboot as a last resort).


The "kill" command also exists in OS X (check out "man kill"); you can also kill an app using a couple of GUI-based tools:

  1. press ++esc. That brings up a "force quit" menu
  2. launch the Activity Monitor application. You can also force-quit an app from there.
  • The salient feature of xkill is that it will kill the owner of a window in X. I do wish there were such an interface in OS X.
    – kojiro
    Apr 10, 2014 at 18:27



You also have the option of -right-clicking the icon in the dock, which (after a few seconds, likely) will pop up and have a 'Force Quit' option, which you can use to kill an app.


the command line way, paste the following in your terminal ( example with Chrome ) :

 while read -r p; do
     kill -9 $p
 done < <(ps -x | grep "Google Chrome.app" | perl -pi -e 's/^\s*(\d+)\s+.*/$1/g;print')

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