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I have a 2018 MacBook Pro with a Touchbar. Sometimes it will freeze up and I cannot access the Apple menu to run Force quit. Normally, you would be able to use Command+Option+Esc.

However, the Command+Option+Esc method is not working for me. I'm thinking it may be because the Esc key is not a real key. I have no idea whether it is being registered.

Is there any other way to issue a Force Quit without rebooting my system?

PS. Making the Esc key a software-based key is not the smartest thing Apple could have done.

Update

In response to questions, one application that I am noticing this with the most is Audacity. I am processing a few hundred audio files using a macro. The macro is very simple: trim areas of silence, normalize, save as mp3. The script works perfectly on a Windows machine.

Symptoms: Things just slow to a halt. I can move the mouse easily. But if I try to interact with anything on the Mac Desktop (through keyboard or mouse) things are very slow to respond. For example, just to open up Spotlight (Command-space) and type "terminal" takes about 10-15 minutes. Trying to open the Apple Menu it does not seem to respond (or maybe I'm just not waiting long enough).

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    What application are you Force Quitting when this happens? – benwiggy Nov 4 '19 at 11:13
  • @benwiggy I have added an update to my question. – kojow7 Nov 4 '19 at 16:49
  • If you are processing "a few hundred audio files", then that might just be using lots of CPU and disk activity, leaving little room for anything else. Probably best to do it overnight or when you're not using the machine. If you keep Force Quitting then you run the risk of corrupting open files and you won't get your audio files processed. – benwiggy Nov 4 '19 at 16:56
  • @benwiggy The thing is if I process about 100 files then it finishes in less than 20 seconds. If I process 400 files, I would expect it to take about 4 times as long. All audio files are sound clips of a few seconds each. – kojow7 Nov 4 '19 at 17:31
  • So is Audacity processing when the slow-down occurs, or has it finished? I think you need to leave Activity Monitor running, and see what is using system resources when the problem occurs. – benwiggy Nov 4 '19 at 18:33
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If only one application is 'frozen', then you should normally still be able to switch to another application (click on another app's window, or the Desktop, or the Dock icon, etc) at which point you should be able to access the Apple menu.

You can also right click on an app's icon in the Dock and Force Quit from there.

However, if you are regularly needing to Force Quit an app, then that's a problem that needs investigating and fixing.

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You can use Karabiner to customize shortcut on your keyboard as you please, give it a try !

You can remap the Esc key to another key or combination or just add another force quit rule than Command+Option+Esc (like Command+Option+Q).

From Karabiner Manual :

Change a key to another key

You can change a key to another key in Simple Modifications tab.

  • Step 1 : Choose target device, then press Add item button.

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  • Step 2 : Select From key and To key.

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  • Step 3 : Confirm the result in Karabiner-EventViewer.

Use more complex rules

  • Step 1 : Open Complex Modifications tab and press Add rule button, then press Import more rules from the internet button.

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  • Step 2 : A web browser is opened. Press Import button in the page. A confirmation dialog is shown. Press Allow button.

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  • Step 3 : Karabiner-Elements is shown again. Press Import button, then new rules are imported. Press Enable button.

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  • Step 4 : New rule is enabled. Confirm the result in Karabiner-EventViewer.

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    Awesome, thanks for coming back and documenting this! – nohillside Nov 7 '19 at 21:29
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Use the Force Quit... option under the menu.

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    How am I supposed to do that if I can't access the Apple menu? – kojow7 Nov 3 '19 at 5:22
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    @kojow7 if you can’t get to the apple menu then it needs a restart... – Solar Mike Nov 3 '19 at 6:53
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Use the macOS built-in Activity Monitor in /Applications/Utilities/Application Monitor.app.

Select the process you want to terminate and press the cross icon on the top left of the window. In the dialogue that opens, it will offer you the option to 'Force Quit'.

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I have this problem too, I don't know how to fix but I do have a workaround. You go to the Mission Control and switch to another apps, I think it'll be OK. My apps usually freezes in their own space only.

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If the OS has managed to keep running though slowly, if you can CMD-TAB to Finder, or use the mouse to navigate to a different application of Finder, then you can get the Apple menu open.

Whatever macro you're using, you should find a way to have it work in batches, or accept that your laptop will not be usable during that process.

Given that you are able to access spotlight, but it takes so long, it's possible CMD-OPT-ESC is registering but the OS is taking a long time to catch up. Is the touchbar responsive at all?

Also are you sure you're running the latest version of Audacity? I believe they made some major updates to better utilize newer CPUs as well as run better in newer Mac OS versions.

I would be curious if the Windows version is handling them one by one while on Mac it's attempting to run all or many in parallel.

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