I have a program that hangs randomly. Whenever it hangs, even the Ctrl+Alt+Delete or Ctrl+Shift+Esc combinations can't take me out of the program and into the task manager. The only solution is to force the computer to shut down by holding down the power button.

I don't get why Ctrl+Alt+Delete can be overwritten by any program. Is there any way to prevent programs from overriding Ctrl+Alt+Del?

  • 1
    What's the program? Apps can't override Ctrl + Alt + Del. Most likely the app (or something else) is hanging the entire OS to the point where the OS can't even respond to the key press. This is NOT overriding the keys, it's just that the OS is not responding at all.
    – Chris Nava
    Dec 18, 2010 at 9:09

1 Answer 1


Ctrl+Alt+Del is handled at the lowest level of the OS and cannot be overridden by user-space programs. This is why Windows requires Ctrl+Alt+Del before logon - this will ensure that the keys following the Ctrl+Alt+Del be handled by Windows and not other software.

Most likely your program that hangs has completely stopped the OS from running (e.g. causing memory/graphic card trouble and so on).

  • BTW, when you press C-A-D and it doesn't respond, be aware that windows may not respond instantly (like if memory if full) and I've seen it not come back for as long as 15-20 seconds, though if it does come back, it may still be unrecoverable -- best possibility is to try to log-off -- I've seen that bring a machine back to working order more often than a reboot attempt. Also, another test -- check to see if the CAPS-LOCK or NUM-LOCK lights toggle. If they lights toggle, the OS isn't completely dead (and may come back).
    – Astara
    Dec 1, 2020 at 22:58

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