Apps won't close when clicking the red close button in El Capitan. The "open indicator" stays on the app icon, the icon stays in the dock even if "keep in dock" isn't checked, and the app shows up in alt-tab. This is very odd to me since in Yosemite they closed just fine. I don't mind so much if the app stay open in the background, but if I use every app in a day and close them all, they all still look like they're open. This is confusing, and to me makes the close button no different than minimize. In fact, if you enable "minimize windows into application icon," the close and minimize basically act the same. Is this a bug, or a change? Any idea how to fix it? I saw a post recommending to uncheck "Restore windows when quitting and re-opening apps," but this option seems to be gone.

Edit: I realized that when I was using Yosemite I had cDock installed. Maybe this program let me limit app indicators to apps with open instances in an old version. It doesn't appear to now.

  • There has been no change in this for many OSX also minimise keeps the Window but close closes it i.e. the data has gone so a significant difference there
    – mmmmmm
    Jun 15, 2016 at 13:30
  • @Mark OK, that makes sense; I missed that difference.
    – Alex Slack
    Jun 16, 2016 at 11:44

1 Answer 1


There is a difference between closing a window and quitting an app. Many apps continue running even if they have no windows open, although newer versions OS X can close them if it needs the RAM (if the app is coded in the appropriate way).

If you want to be sure the app is removed from the Dock and ⌘ Command Tab switcher, use ⌘ Command Q or App Menu > Quit.

  • 1
    More specifially: in general, single-window applications (like App Store or System Preferences) will quit when you close that window. Multi-window applications, like Safari, Preview or Text Edit, will stay open even after you close their last window -- in which case, as you say, OS X's resource management can also kick in and quit them in that case.
    – calum_b
    Jun 15, 2016 at 13:44
  • It doesn't have to do with whether the app is single window or multi window, but rather whether the developer set applicationShouldTerminateAfterLastWindowClosed to true, which they could decide to do in anything. May 19, 2020 at 19:37

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