I'm on macOS Mojave 10.14.5 and I'm trying to kill a process. I tried cmd+option+esc to bring up the task manager, but nothing showed up.
How do I bring up the task manager?
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This is same as the shortcut you're trying. Apple logo in the menu bar in top left corner-> Force Quit. This should be done from an app whose menu bar is not in the hang(spin-ball) state. To achieve this, I normally click on desktop to get Finder.
A different approach, type Activity Monitor.app in spotlight(cmd+space) or via launchpad or via Applications folder. As your question seems like you're not talking about any application, the first method is not so useful.
I have Mojave 10.14.6 (MacBook Pro with touch bar) and cmnd+option+esc works using either cmnd+option from the right or the left of the space bar & esc is on the touch bar...
Have you checked that the key combo has not been altered?