I'm new to Mac OS X. Sometimes my system hangs, and I cannot do anything with it. In Windows, I would use Task Manager to stop the unwanted application, but in Mac OS X, what option is available? When my Mac has hung, I have used "Activity Monitor" only. Are there any other options available in Mac OS X?


If you just want to kill hanging apps try pressing cmd+alt+esc. This opens a mini version of activity monitor, which allows you to select and kill any hanging applications.

  • That allows you to force quit running Applications, but it is nowhere near a fully fledged task manager as there is a LOT more going on in the background. – churnd Aug 11 '10 at 11:40
  • Activity Monitor is the "fully fledged task manager" as you called it. But Pugal Devan already found it. I think he wanted to now what's the fastest way to force applications to quit. That's the "cmd-alt-esc"-way. – lajuette Aug 11 '10 at 12:15
  • another task manager alternative is atMonitor, it has no Sample option, but offers some other interesting features such as querying iUseThis for the latest version info, so you easy can tell what a program does. atpurpose.com/atMonitor – neoneye Aug 11 '10 at 16:04

You want to use Activity Monitor in your /Applications/Utilities folder. This is the equivalent of Windows Task Manager. It will give you a full list of all processes running on your computer at that time, importantly the ones running in the background. However, be careful what you decide to kill because it can make your system temporarily unstable (requiring a reboot) if you don't know what you're doing.

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    He already found Activity Monitor... – lajuette Aug 11 '10 at 12:15

You can right-click on the icon of a running/hanging application in the Dock. If it is not responding, the usual Quit is turned into Force Quit. If the program is running fine, but you want to force quit anyway, hold alt.


I used the Terminal with the command top -o vsize to see wich program is consuming more memory, then i killed with kill PID or killall PROGRAM. I like these because is lighter than Monitor Activity.


in Terminal application you can type

ps -e

to list all the processes. each one has a pid which you can stop by typing

kill pid

replacing pid with the actual process number


I like to add a link to iStatMenus. It shows cpu, ram consumption, disk usage and a lot more in the menubar.

(It's a shame that isn't integrated in Mac OS X)

  • But this doesn't help at all with killing hanging apps, does it? – lajuette Aug 11 '10 at 12:16
  • @lajuette: Right, but this was something I missed switching from the Windows TaskManager to Mac OS X. In Windows, you get the CPU usage in the Systemtray when the Taskmanager is open. Just want to mention it... – Tim Büthe Aug 12 '10 at 15:37
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    Try MenuMeters. It's almost the same but not as polished as iStatMenus. But it's free. =) – lajuette Aug 12 '10 at 18:35
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    If you open the Activity Monitor, included with OS X, there is an option under the Window menu for a CPU usage meter, CPU history meter and a floating CPU meter. Sure, it's not in the menubar, but it is integrated into Mac OS X and performs the same purpose as the Windows Taskmanager. – ghoppe Aug 12 '10 at 20:00
  • @lajuette: I'll give that a try, thanks a lot. @ghoppe: I did not know that, thnaks! – Tim Büthe Aug 27 '10 at 10:01

You can use Activity Monitor i.e. Mac Task Manager. There are many ways to do it. Easiest one is just type activity monitor on spotlight search.

If you wish to learn more about Mac activity monitor then check out: How to use mac activity monitor?

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