We’ll show you how to forcibly restart or shut down your Mac if it’s completely frozen so you can get it running again.
Despite the fact that Apple produces some of the most reliable computers on the market, you may occasionally experience a frozen Mac. Apps become sluggish, the pointer turns into a spinning beach ball, and your computer fans spin at high speeds when this happens.
We’ll show you how to use a force shutdown to solve your frozen Mac. A force shutdown, unlike a regular shutdown or restart, shuts down your Mac without allowing it to save files or close apps first. A hard reset, a force restart, or a force reboot are other terms for the same thing.
Before You Force Shut Down Your Mac
You shouldn’t use force shutdown on your Mac unless you have no other choice. It can cause you to lose work you haven’t saved in open documents and could even mess up your operating system files.
Force-shutting down your Mac during a software update is a bad idea because your Mac might only have half of its operating system installed.
If you can, try to shut down your Mac normally by clicking Shut Down from the menu bar after opening the Apple menu. This is much safer, but your Mac might take a long time to shut down if it needs to finish updates or close apps first.
If your Mac won’t shut down normally, use the steps below to make sure you don’t lose any data before forcing it to shut down.
Save Open Files
When you’re working on a big project is when your Mac is most likely to freeze. If this is the case, you don’t want to force your Mac to shut down too soon and lose any work that hasn’t been saved yet.
Try to save all of the files you have opened by pressing Cmd+S or going to File > Save from the menu bar.
If your Mac is frozen and you can’t save anything, take a picture of your work-in-progress on your phone so you can do it again later. This isn’t the best solution, but it’s better than losing your job for good.
Eject External Storage
If you force your Mac to shut down, it won’t be able to safely remove external discs. Whether you’re using these discs for Time Machine backups or external storage, ejecting them incorrectly could result in irreversible data loss.
To safely eject your external storage, go to your Desktop and drag the drive to the Dock’s Trash icon. Alternatively, open Finder and click the Eject button in the sidebar next to your drive.
Quit Every App
If your Mac won’t shut down regularly, it’s most likely because one of your apps has become stuck and won’t quit. You can help things along by manually closing each app. It’s possible that doing so will unfreeze your Mac, meaning you won’t have to force it to shut down or restart.
To exit your current app, press Cmd + Q or click the app’s name in the menu bar and select Quit [App]. To see which other apps are still running, use Cmd + Tab to cycle between your open apps.
Press Option + Cmd + Escape to open the Force Quit box if any apps refuse to quit. To close an unresponsive app, choose it in this box and click Force Quit.
Try to shut down your Mac normally using the Apple menu after closing all apps. If you still can’t do that—or if you can’t close every app—follow the steps below to force your Mac to shut down or restart.
How to Force Shut Down or Restart Your Mac
If your Mac is entirely frozen and unresponsive, the only method to solve it is to forcibly shut down or restart it. The steps to force shut down or restart your Mac are the same for a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, or any other Mac, regardless of whether it’s powered by Apple or Intel.
Here are three distinct approaches to it.
1. Press and hold the Power Button.
A power button is found on every Mac. It’s commonly found at the top-right of your keyboard or Touch Bar on a laptop, such as a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. It could be a blank Touch ID sensor with a power symbol or an eject symbol on it.
The power button on an iMac is hidden underneath the bottom-left corner of the screen. It’s on the bottom-right of your iMac if you’re looking at the rear. It’s a little button on the back of a Mac mini.
Press and hold the power button until the screen turns black to force shut down your Mac. This could take up to 10 seconds; just keep pressing the button. Wait a few moments for your Mac to cool down before pressing the power button briefly again to restart it. Read also; Apple is planning a foldable MacBook for 2026
Keep holding the power button until the Apple logo shows if the screen was already black when you started.
2. Use a Keyboard Shortcut
To shut down your Mac, use one of two keyboard shortcuts: the first try to safely close apps first, while the second causes your Mac to go down without closing anything. As a result, it’s advisable to start with the first shortcut.
Press Control + Option + Cmd + Power to safely shut down your Mac. Holding down the power button will force your Mac to shut down; instead, push the other buttons briefly.
If your Mac can’t securely close every app, the shortcut won’t work, and you’ll have to force it to shut down instead. To do so, use Control + Cmd + Power (without the Option). Before your Mac shuts off, you must hold the keys for a few seconds.
3. Remove the battery.
Even if your Mac is frozen, one of the two techniques above will typically cause it to shut down. Even yet, there are occasional instances where they do not work.
If that’s the case, the next best option is to turn off the power or discharge the battery. It’s crucial to remember that turning off your Mac in this manner can be dangerous. You risk losing unsaved data or, worse, corrupting your hard drive’s files.
You should only remove the power supply from your Mac as a last resort. Read more; Apple appears to have forgotten that it included a notch in the MacBook Pro.
Remove the power cable from your MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro and wait for the battery to die. Depending on the state of your battery, you may have to wait overnight for this to happen. However, your Mac will finally shut down. When it does, recharge it and turn it back on.
Alternatively, you can remove the battery from the bottom of earlier MacBook models. This is a faster method of shutting down your MacBook.
Simply unplug the power cable from the rear of your computer if you have an iMac, Mac mini, or Mac Pro. Allow for some cooling time before reconnecting the power cable and turning on your Mac.
Find Out What to Do if Your Mac Won’t Turn On Again
After forcing your frozen Mac to shut down or restart, it should usually boot up correctly again. Any apps that were malfunctioning should now function normally, allowing you to continue working on your critical projects.
However, if an underlying issue caused your Mac to freeze in the first place, it may refuse to boot up again. Potential issues include everything from outdated software to failing hard drives. Fortunately, you can solve many of these issues on your own.