We are sure that everyone will agree that it can be frustrating when a Windows application crash. The worst thing that can happen is if your whole system is being dragged by just one pesky rouge app. A persistent rouge app that won’t terminate and no longer responds. And you will have no choice but to force-quit an application in Windows 10 – or any versions for that matter.
More often than not, when we are faced with this kind of problem, the quick solution is to reboot. Restarting the machine is the most common solution for non-technical users.
In this article, we will share how you can deal with unresponsive tasks or programs in different ways. For the steps below, we will be showing you how to force quit Windows 10 applications. But we assure you that they will still work on other Windows versions – like Windows 8 or Windows 11, even.
Method #1: Use The Alt+F4 Keyboard Shortcut To Force Close a Window
By using the default Windows Alt+F4 kill-switch keyboard shortcut, you can immediately close a program. First, click the window you wanted to close to make sure it is the active one. Then press Alt+F4 from your keyboard simultaneously. This should send a signal to your system that you want to close that active program.
Method #2: Force-quit An Application in Windows 10 From The Task Manager
Open your Windows Task Manager, then go to the Processes tab. Select the rouge app that is not responding or the one you need to force-quit. Then click the End Task button or you can right-click the app, then select the End Task option.
Method #3: Use Windows TaskKill To Force Close A Windows Process
If you are more of a console or terminal type of guy, then you might find the Windows TaskKill interesting. The name of this Windows built-in tool is pretty much straightforward. Taskkill is a tool that is executed through a Windows command shell that can terminate a task, process, or program.
From Microsoft’s documentation, you will see different parameters that can be used with taskkill. You can use different syntax combinations to force close a Windows 10 application. And in this article, we will give you some easy and quick syntax.
For this quick tutorial, we will need to identify either of the 2 things – the PID value or the image name.
- PID value – When a process or program starts in Windows (same as with other operating systems), a unique ID number is assigned to it.
- Image name – Image name pertains to the absolute filename of the application, i.e. firefox.exe for Mozilla Firefox.
And to grab either the PID value of the image name, we can use either one of the 2 ways – Task Manager or tasklist.
To check out the different ways to invoke the task manager, then you can check out this article. And the screenshot below will help you identify which are the image name and PID values.
And if the task manager is not accessible, then try using the tasklist command-line tool. It is recommended that you open (or run) either a command prompt or Windows Powershell in Administrator mode. This is to enable you to terminate rogue apps that are owned by other users or the system. And the screenshot below will show you where you can obtain the image name and/or the PID values.
Here are 2 examples of how you can use the taskkill command-line tool to force-quit an application in Windows 10.
Steps On How To Terminate A Program With Taskkill
For example, you want to terminate the Mozilla Firefox browser using taskkill because it is no longer responding.
- Open a command prompt or Windows Powershell in Administrator mode.
- Then either opens the task manager or use tasklist to get the image name of Mozilla Firefox.
- Once you have the image name, type and enter the taskkill command-line syntax below to terminate Mozilla Firefox
taskkill /f /im firefox.exe
The command above is simply giving instruction to taskkill to force-quit the application with the name firefox.exe.
Steps On How To Terminate A Process (PID) With Taskkill
The steps to kill a process using the PID in taskkill are almost the same as with terminating an application using the image name. The only difference is how you will execute the command.
- Open a command prompt or Windows Powershell in Administrator mode.
- Then either open the task manager or use tasklist to get the process ID or PID of Mozilla Firefox.
- Once you have the PID, type and enter the taskkill command-line syntax below to terminate Mozilla Firefox
taskkill /f /pid 21868 /pid 6420 /pid 7128
The command above is telling taskkill to terminate the PIDs which belong to the fireforx.exe application.
Method #4: Terminate All Running Processes or Apps With A Executable Batch File
There is a published batch file that combines tasklist and taskkill here. The batch file said that it can determine all the processes started by the current Windows user and can terminate them all.
According to the author, this batch file named “kill.bat” can also terminate tray and background applications. But claims that it cannot kill protected running applications such as your firewall or antivirus.
We did test the “kill.bat” batch file in one of our Windows 10 machines and it does terminate all the processes. However, it also killed the processes that were not supposed to be terminated by the script. In the script, it is supposed to skip processes like “explorer.exe” and “cmd.exe”. I even added “powershell.exe” so that it will not terminate the process while I am testing the batch file. But to my surprise, the batch file terminated everything – all the processes that I opened.
That is why I added a “pause” command in the “for” loop from the batch file just to capture a screenshot.
Anyways, the batch file was created back in 2009 and the author did say that it was tested only in Windows XP and Windows Vista. Surely, there is a way to fix this but our skill level in DOS batch scripting is like Level 1. But the good thing is that it actually works.
You can just download the batch file anywhere on your computer – maybe on your Desktop. And once you feel that your Windows machine is becoming a little bit sluggish, just double-click the batch file to do its trick.
But When Everything Fails, Rebooting Windows Is Your Last Resort
We hate to say this but there are times that we have no control over our Windows machines. Especially if the rouge application already ate almost all of your machine’s resources and nothing works anymore. Not even your mouse pointer is not moving.
If this happens, our very last resort is rebooting the machine.
But, if the incident is frequently happening, then you should start troubleshooting and find out the real cause. For example, if there is a common application that is causing the issue, check that software. Probably there’s an update needed or the application requires a minimum specification and your machine is not suited.
Or it can be that there’s faulty hardware – like your hard drives, memory modules, etc. Probably, they need to be replaced or upgraded.
If you know some other ways to deal with or force-quit an application in Windows 10 or any other versions, please let us know.