How to Force Kill Unresponsive Apps in Windows

Ben Stegner 22-11-2016

Typically, Windows software is pretty stable. However, we’ve all had moments where the program you’re working in freezes. In these times, it seems that no matter what you do, you can’t get the program to close.


Next time an app just freezes when you click its X, try these steps.

Your first step should be the Windows Task Manager 10 Windows Task Manager Tricks You Probably Didn't Know Here are handy Task Manager tricks every Windows user should know, including how to bring up the Task Manager quickly and more! Read More . Press Ctrl + Shift + Escape to access it, then look for the misbehaving app under the Processes tab. Right-click it and choose End Task to kill the process.

If this doesn’t work, we can attempt to kill a process via the command prompt. Type cmd into the Start Menu to open a command prompt, then type tasklist to view all running processes. Locate the one that’s acting up, and then type the following line, replacing the blank with the process name:

taskkill /IM [TASK NAME] /f

So, to kill Notepad, you would type:

taskkill /IM notepad.exe /f

If you don’t want to fumble with either of these methods, you should use SuperF4. This tiny utility lives in your System Tray Manage And Tidy The Windows 7 System Tray Every Windows user has seen the Windows system tray (also known as the notification area) become cluttered over time. We’ve covered disabling distracting desktop notifications in the past, but what if the icons themselves are... Read More and adds a new shortcut — Ctrl + Alt + F4 — to destroy running processes. When your press the normal Alt + F4 shortcut, Windows kindly asks the open program to close. With this shortcut, Windows will destroy the process without asking.


Thus, you should be careful. If you press Alt + F4 on an unsaved Word document, you will be asked if you want to save it, but the SuperF4 shortcut will kill it without any prompt.

If a particular program crashes frequently, it might be worth taking a look at its error reports Should You Pay More Attention to Windows Software Error Reports? [Geeks Weigh In] Windows tracks every application crash and freeze on your system. It records detailed information about the crashes and even tries to provide a solution to each error report, helping you fix problems. With that in... Read More to find the root cause.

Do you often have to resort to higher means to get stubborn programs to close? Let us know if you find these tools useful!

Image Credit: Kjetil Kolbjornsrud via Shutterstock

Related topics: Troubleshooting, Windows Task Manager, Windows Tricks.

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