How to Force Close a Program Without Task Manager

Ben Stegner Updated 06-12-2019

Want to learn how to force close a program? This article covers the best Windows program killers, from the easiest to the most effective.


It’s frustrating when Windows programs crash. Everyone has clicked on something in an app only to have the window gloss over and show the dreaded Not Responding text.

Your first move to force-close frozen programs might be to open the Task Manager, which is fine. However, if you’d like to force-close in Windows even faster, you can create a shortcut to instantly kill any unresponsive programs. We’ll show you this and other methods to force-close easily.

How to Force Close a Program the Easy Way

To force close a program without the Task Manager, you can use the taskkill command. Typically, you would enter this command at the Command Prompt to kill a specific process. However, it’s clumsy to open the command line window every time a program stops responding, and typing the command every time is a waste. You can force close windows much easier with a shortcut.

  1. Right-click an empty space on your desktop and choose New > Shortcut.
  2. You’ll be asked to enter a location for the shortcut. In that box, paste the following command:
    taskkill /f /fi "status eq not responding"

    This is a screenshot of Windows's Task Kill shortcut's kill script and target location

    This command is simple to understand when you break it down:

    • Taskkill is the command to kill a process, which you should do when something is frozen.
    • /f tells the command to force-close the program. Without this, Windows just asks the process to terminate, which won’t work if it’s stuck.
    • /fi tells the command to run only on processes that meet the following filter criteria.
    • Finally, the text in quotes is the command criteria. You want it to only kill processes with a status equal to Not Responding.
  3. The shortcut creation box will then ask you to name your new shortcut. Call it anything you like, then press Finish.
  4. Now you can force-close a program by double-clicking this shortcut at any time. This will kill any window that’s stuck.

How to Force-Close on Windows With a Keyboard Shortcut

To make this force-close process even faster, we can make a custom keyboard shortcut to run the task killer command.

  1. Right-click on your new shortcut and choose Properties.
  2. Under the Shortcut tab, click in the Shortcut key box to set a custom keyboard shortcut.
  3. Windows will automatically add Ctrl + Alt to any letter you press, but you can change it to Ctrl + Shift if you like.

Note: Because this shortcut will momentarily launch a Command Prompt window, you can set Run to Minimized. Doing so means you won’t see a disrupting brief flash when you press the shortcut.


This is a screenshot of Windows's shortcut file with the shortcut key visible

Alternative Methods to Force-Close in Windows

The above method is the most straightforward way to force-close programs when they lock up. However, there are some other methods and tools you might want to know for doing this.

Try Closing With Alt + F4 First

A basic troubleshooting step when programs freeze up is pressing Alt + F4. This is the Windows keyboard shortcut for closing the current window, equivalent to clicking the X icon in the upper-right corner of a window.

Thus, it won’t force-close a program that’s really stuck, but you can give it a try if the app just had a minor hiccup.


How to Force a Program to Close With SuperF4

This is a screenshot of the SuperF4 app for Windows

SuperF4 is a simple program that lets you force-kill any window, even if it’s not responding. Like the taskkill command discussed above, it forces programs to stop immediately instead of asking them nicely.

Because of this, the program won’t check to make sure that you’ve saved your work before it closes, so take care when using this app. SuperF4 also lets you move your cursor onto any window you want to kill.

Force-Close Programs With a Task Manager Alternative

Technically, another way to force-close programs without the Task Manager is using a Task Manager alternative 5 Powerful Alternatives to the Windows Task Manager The Windows Task Manager is good, but it lacks a few features. Try these alternative task managers for Windows instead! Read More . For instance, if you’re looking for something with more power, Process Explorer will definitely fill that need.


How to Force-Close Programs With AutoHotkey

You can also create a basic AutoHotkey script to force-close windows. You’ll need to download AutoHotkey, then create a script with this line:


Move the finished file to your Startup folder (enter shell:startup into the File Explorer address bar to get there) so it runs every time you log on. Then simply press Win + Alt + Q to kill the current window.

Other Third-Party Apps for Force-Closing Programs

If none of the above options work for you, you’ll find other third-party tools that can force-close Windows programs. ProcessKO is a good option for advanced users, as it offers extras like the ability to kill a specific process after a set time interval.

Most other options are quite similar to the above, so we recommend checking them all out before you look for an alternative.


Force-Closing Windows Has Never Been Easier

Hopefully, you don’t have to deal with programs freezing up too often. If you have a regular problem with a specific piece of software, it might be worth checking for updates or looking for a replacement. Just like when Windows crashes, there’s almost always a reason that a program is having issues.

Despite this, the occasional crash is an unfortunate reality that every computer user deals with. Similarity, another common issue you might come across is locked files in File Explorer. That’s fixable! Learn how to delete a file that’s in use by another program How to Delete a File in Use by Another Program Windows says your file is in use because it's open in another program? We show you how to force rename, delete, or move the file. Read More .

Related topics: Command Prompt, Keyboard Shortcuts, Task Management, Troubleshooting, Windows Tricks.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. mike
    May 6, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    What is wrong with this sentence?
    Technically, another way to force-close programs without the the Task Manager ...

    You may want to remove the error at some point.

  2. Austin Cote
    November 8, 2018 at 12:23 am

    Thank You, this helped me

  3. Austin Cote
    November 8, 2018 at 12:23 am

    Thank You

  4. Nela
    August 4, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    Ahah taskkill shortcut works like a charm! Just run as admin!

  5. Ivy
    March 27, 2018 at 12:18 am


  6. Sharayde
    December 25, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Awesome. I was trying to run Black Ops, it crashed and locked up my main screen, and my task manager was "behind" it. So, I ran command prompt, and while completely blind typed out the command, and then realized it needs admin access to close BLOPs, so then I had to re-do it, and this time it closed it down. This'll be amazing for when II try to run old games that LOVE freezing a screen.

  7. Sam
    September 15, 2017 at 12:00 am

    Thank you so much for this page. Task Manager is disabled on our school computers but we have issues with a program frequently crashing on us. This is a life saver!

  8. Someone
    July 14, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    Ny favourite way to kill a program is to shoot it, or if my parents let me, break my pc with a sledgehammer.

  9. Cody
    January 26, 2017 at 6:50 am

    I've been having a hell of a time with some games freezing sometimes and being unable to open the task manager... spending 10 mins having to reboot and reload.

    This is great, thanks!

    • Ben Stegner
      January 26, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Happy we could help!

  10. Clay
    January 5, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    I prefer using a sawed-off double barreled shotgun to end unresponsive programs. I go through 3 computers a week but it's a total stress reliever.

    • Ben Stegner
      January 14, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      Hey, that's one way to do it! Whatever works, right?

  11. bromberg
    December 11, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    If a program has locked up my PC how can I use SuperF4 - i.e., how can SuperF4 respond if I did not start it before my PC locked up? Even if i did start SuperF4, will it respond to canceling the program causing my lockup?
    Seems like a Catch 22 so I'm probably misunderstanding it, please clarify.

    • Ben Stegner
      December 12, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      So when you press ALT + F4 or press the X, Windows asks the program to close. If a program gets stuck and freezes, it won't respond to this.

      SuperF4 overrides this and destroys the process without asking nicely. This means SuperF4 needs to be running, so if you need to use it often it's a good idea to set it to run at startup so it's always ready.

      If the program is really stuck, it might not respond to SuperF4 right away. If your computer is completely frozen, you won't be able to use any tools, including SuperF4, and you'll likely have to restart.

      Essentially, if a program freezes, SuperF4 has more power to kill it than normal means of closing. But if the program freezes your computer, you'll probably have to restart. Does that make sense?

      • bromberg
        December 13, 2016 at 6:00 am

        Based on your reply it looks like I'll only start SuperF4 prior to running a program that I know may be problematic.
        Thanks - I enjoyed your article.

      • Ruth
        September 19, 2017 at 12:24 pm

        Thank you. ALT &F4 did the trick. Had to do it twice, but it shut the offending window.

  12. frayer
    November 30, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    i just use alt+F4

    • Ben Stegner
      December 1, 2016 at 4:02 pm

      This will close a program, but it won't force-close it. ALT+F4 is the same as clicking the X in the top-right corner, so if a program is not responding, it won't listen to ALT+F4.

    • Doc
      December 1, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      As the article mentioned, this often won't work with tasks that are actually *unresponsive.*

  13. Hayk
    July 29, 2016 at 5:36 am


  14. elGiblet
    March 26, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    I stopped reading at the statement, 'Windows is generally not known for its stability'. No point in reading an article written by somebody who has no experience in pc platforms.

    • Vincenzo
      June 3, 2016 at 5:18 am

      Um, this was written when VISTA was Microsoft's newest OS. Windows has had its fair share of buggy releases.

    • jojo
      August 21, 2016 at 12:04 am

      No point in being a faggot either but here you are.

      • Noneya
        January 20, 2017 at 5:47 pm

        JOJO....nice must be a homophobe and a bigot.

        • Ben Stegner
          January 20, 2017 at 6:53 pm

          Let's knock this off now.

    • Justin
      December 2, 2016 at 1:14 am

      Okay, so on a scale from 6 - 10 how many times a day do you have to restart your windows computer?

    • bruce hall
      January 24, 2017 at 4:46 pm

      I agree with the original statement. All flavors of windows are a steaming pile of shit that I repeatedly have to find my own workarounds for. Microsoft support is a joke, yes I know how to make sure the power cord is plugged in, thank you very much. Windows is a marketing tool designed to get users to pay , pay some more, then buy other unneeded services and products. Microsoft went south shortly after MS-DOS. They are now just a bunch of fat, overpaid, wankers. If my third party applications were all ported to Linux I would never log on to Windows ever again and be that much happier.

      To Gates and his brain dead lackeys: take Windows (especially the privacy violation they call Windows 10) and shove it up your collective a**

  15. lel916
    January 23, 2016 at 9:29 am

    u can use cmd for it

  16. Anon
    May 11, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Very helpful!

  17. Anonymous
    April 16, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    same here james

  18. James
    January 28, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    The thing is is that I can't even click the screen because an invisible application is blocking access! I can only click the bottom task bar but not close anything or move windows around.

  19. chad herrella
    February 12, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    i have windows xp home on my netbook. copied the taskkill.exe file from my win xp pro desktop to my netbook in the windows/system32 folder and it works now.

    here is the taskkill.exe file download link --> [Broken Link Removed]

  20. Matt
    August 15, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Always having trouble with Vista making unresponsive programs which Task Manager cant shut down for whatever reason. But this fuckin worked! MINT!

  21. em josefsberg
    June 25, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    i, too, could not find taskkill.exe but i did find tskill (no extension) under \system 32. altering the command, you get: %windir%\system32\tskill.exe /f /fi “status eq not responding”, which shortcut i was permitted by xp home to create. have no idea if it will work until i get another responsive app, tho.

  22. Derek
    June 3, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Another way to make it single-click would be to drag the shortcut to the QuickLaunch bar. That would also solve the problem of having to view the desktop before clicking on it.

  23. BB
    May 26, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Windows IS pretty dang stable unless you are still using 3.1. How is "less RAM to Viruses to poorly designed applications" ANY fault of Windows. I can't remember the last time Windows crashed and it was not the fault of hardware, an application or some driver.

    May 25, 2009 at 8:13 am

    thank u
    its a great tool for vista specially:P

  25. Mike
    May 15, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    So, is it possible to create the file taskkill.exe?

    For example, can I copy it from XP Pro and paste it into a folder on my XP computer?

    • youthworker
      May 16, 2009 at 6:52 am

      I've browsed a few other forums and, yes, it does appear that you can download it or copy it from various websites and it will work on XP home etc. Google it and you'll find various places to download it. I'm no expert, so i wasn't sure where to put it, so I had to change the shortcut to include the full path eg c:\taskkill.exe /f /fi “status eq not responding”. There was probably a better way of doing this.

  26. Transcontinental
    May 15, 2009 at 10:52 am

    It would be nice if authors checked their literature before making people lose their time : XP Pro only, is it?
    Mama mia...

  27. Juscelino M. Acevedo
    May 15, 2009 at 10:45 am

    I like how you guys always find great uses for very uncommon things that are very useful. What that means is that I know about and how to use Taskkill, but I never thought about creating a simple shortcut to use it. Great job...

  28. quickroute
    May 15, 2009 at 7:06 am

    taskkill.exe is for XP Pro only - pity the author didn't mention that :-(

    • Eric
      June 22, 2009 at 5:18 am

      You can download the taskkill.exe aplication and put it in your windows directory and it should work fine

  29. mymytri
    May 15, 2009 at 6:52 am

    Interesting one.But task manager has one advantage.You can end non responsive tasks without minimizing the program window you are running just clicking on the taskbar.

    • david
      July 31, 2009 at 11:28 am

      well then what you can do is add this shortcut in your taskbar :-b

  30. tj
    May 15, 2009 at 6:11 am

    that was great. i got the "unable to find" error message, too, but when I added spaces worked fine.

    • youthworker
      May 15, 2009 at 7:17 am

      Can you give some clues as to where we put the spaces? I cut and pasted it from the description and get the message others have received.

  31. tipat
    May 15, 2009 at 1:08 am

    Dude thats come cool stuff, very useful thanks

  32. wayne
    May 14, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    this would be handy , if it worked for me.
    win XP SP3, i get taskkill.exe file cannot be found error

  33. Anurag
    May 14, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    Great Tweak,It is very helpful for users like me.

  34. Mike
    May 14, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Thanks for the great tip.

    However, When I click after "taskkill.exe..." it says, "unable to find file taskkill.exe"

    Do I have to create a file as well as the shortcut?


    • Terenas
      May 22, 2009 at 12:30 pm

      Valid for XP Professional, not Home