The entire menu bar (the white one, that holds the Apple menu, etc) has vanished on my iMac. In this instance, I think it went away when VLC crashed, but it's happened in other situations as well.

Any open windows still respond, but I can't right-click on the desktop or launch anything from the dock. The dock is still there, and I can click on icons to restore minimized windows, but clicking on something that isn't running, won't run that program. System-level shortcuts like Command ⌘-Tab and Control ⌃-F2 don't do anything, but I can still hit the Exposé key F3.

If I reboot, everything is fine, but of course it can happen again when something goes wrong. If this were a Linux box, I'd restart the X server. If it were a Windows machine, it would be like explorer.exe crashed, and I'd have to kill and restart that. Is there any analogous fix that doesn't involve waiting for the whole machine to reboot?

1 Answer 1


You might try force quitting Dock with killall Dock. It should be reopened automatically by launchd. The Dock process seems to be responsible for many general UI features like Mission Control and the application switcher.

You can usually just log out and back in instead of restarting the OS. sudo killall loginwindow would be even faster than that, but it only seems to quit some processes.

  • This is exactly the sort of thing I'd like to do, only how do I launch Terminal? I have a shortcut on the dock, but clicking it does nothing -- and I can't open Spotlight with CMD-Space.
    – James B
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 18:58
  • @JamesB Have any other devices that could SSH in and run that command? Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 20:47
  • @JamesB Couldn't you open Finder with ⌥⌘␣?
    – Lri
    Commented Jul 15, 2012 at 10:49
  • I wish I didn't have to kill everything to get back to a responsive machine, but it does the trick. :D
    – James B
    Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 20:52

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