Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

How do you break free of a fullscreen app on Mac OS X?

There are some, mostly games, that when they become unresponsive won't allow you to switch to another app with Command-Tab, and I know no other way to close that app or get away from it. Command-W or Command-Q won't work either.

Is there a shortcut to launch Activity Monitor, or Terminal, to kill the application?

share|improve this question
up vote 14 down vote accepted
  1. First, try hitting esc. That'll make well behaved programs such as DVD Player or VLC exit Full Screen Mode.

  2. No luck there, try command+tab and see if you can cycle to another open program or the Finder. ( OP tried this, but just adding for completion's sake )

  3. Then try option+command+esc next, to try and Force Quit the application.

  4. If none of that could try to ssh into the machine and kill the offending process via Terminal..

  5. That's be all I try before rebooting the Mac...

share|improve this answer
Thanks! how do you put those key-like borders? – Petruza Jun 14 '10 at 20:04
<kbd> and </kbd> – Darth Android Jun 14 '10 at 22:45

Shift+Option+Command+Escape, when held down for three seconds, should force-kill the active application in Mac OS X, similar to ending an unresponsive task in windows.

share|improve this answer
I can't reproduce this behavior. – Josh K Jun 14 '10 at 18:10
Works - it needs to be held for 3 seconds. – JRobert Jun 14 '10 at 20:03
Yeah, works, thanks! – Petruza Jun 14 '10 at 20:09

To exit Mac OS X Mountain Lion application full screen mode:

  1. Move cursor to top of screen to display the main menu
  2. Click the blue icon now on the far right of the menu:

In OS X 8.2, an app in full screen mode will display the now hidden application menu by moving the cursor to the top of the screen. At the far right of the menu appears a blue background arrows version of the "full screen" icon (with the diagonal arrows) that you used to initiate the app to full screen mode. Select that to toggle out of full screen mode.

share|improve this answer

cmd+alt+esc then Force Quit the offending application.

Sometimes cmd+enter will put it in “window mode”.

share|improve this answer

in many cases, cmd-m is often the key sequence to toggle full screen mode...

share|improve this answer

In Xcode, you exit fullscreen mode by holding the cursor at the top of the screen. This makes the menubar appear, allowing you to toggle the fullscreen button. (confirmed in Xcode 5.1)

share|improve this answer

Games will usually run under different settings than your desktop (with 3d and stuff) - changing between those different modes can be taxing on the computer, and making it unresponsive is common, but it SHOULD eventually switch after a few seconds.

one way to make the switching faster is to run the games under "windowed-fullscreen" mode rather than "fullscreen" - this make them run with the same configuration as the desktop, albeit with a performance penalty.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .