How to Kill a Process on Mac

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Is an application or process causing problems on your Mac? Rid yourself of the problem app by killing it using Activity Monitor or the Terminal. You can also find and kill processes that are using specific ports on your Mac.


How to Kill a Mac Process Using Activity Monitor

The easiest way to find and kill a process that’s causing an issue in macOS is to launch Activity Monitor. You can do this using Spotlight(hit Command+Spacebar then start typing “activity” and hit Enter when you see the app) or by finding and launching the app under the Applications > Utilities folder.

Find running processes on macOS using Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor has several views you can use to isolate problems. On the CPU tab, you can see which apps are using the most processing power right now (sort by the “% CPU” tab to see the hungriest processes. You can also use “Memory” to sort by RAM usage, “Energy” to find which apps are using the most power, “Disk” to sort by disk usage, and “Network” to sort by data sent and received.

On top of this, you can use the “Search” box in the top-right corner to search for a process name. You can find the core process and associated processes this way, for example searching for Safari will find the core app, networking processes, individual tabs, extensions, and more.

Search macOS processes that match "Safari" in Activity Monitor

Find the process you would like to kill and then click on the “X” button in the top-right left corner of the screen. You can then choose between “Quit” and “Force Quit” to attempt to send a quit command (to give the process time to save your data) or a force quit command (to kill the process immediately, ideal if it’s crashed). Find out more about identifying processes that are safe to kill on your Mac.

Quit macOS process using Activity Monitor

It’s also possible to kill processes from the command line using Terminal on your Mac. To do this, first launch Terminal (either using Spotlight or from the Applications > Utilities folder) and run the top command to see a list of running processes. Alternatively, use the ps -ax commandto see a list of processes along with the process ID (or PID for short).

List running processes by PID in macOS Terminal

For example, typing ps ax | grep Safari will return a list of processes with “Safari” in the title. Be aware that this command is case-sensitive, so searching for “steam” will return different results to “Steam”

List processes that match "Safari" in Terminal

Take note of the PID number next to the process you want to kill, then kill it by running the kill PID command. For example, kill 3500. To kill a process immediately (also known as force quit) use kill -9 3500 instead.

You can also kill a process using its name with the killall command, for example killall Safari. This will kill all processes with “Safari” in the name (again, processes are case-sensitive).Identify processes using the ps ax | grep AppName command, where AppName is the name of the application you want to find.

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