3 ways to restart or shutdown any frozen Mac

Image of a MacBook with a blank screen

Despite the fact that Apple makes some of the most reliable computers, you may still suffer from a frozen Mac at times. When this happens, applications become unresponsive, the cursor turns into a spinning beach ball, and the computer begins to overheat.

We’ll show you how to fix your Mac forcibly shutting down. Unlike a standard shutdown or restart, force shutdown shuts down your Mac without allowing it to save files or close apps first. You may also hear this referred to as a factory reset, force restart, or force restart.

Before You Force Shut Down Your Mac

You should only use force shutdown on your Mac as an absolute last resort. This can cause unsaved progress to be lost in open documents and may corrupt files in your operating system.

It’s an especially bad idea to force your Mac to shutdown during a software update, which can leave your Mac with only half an operating system installed.

If possible, try shutting down your Mac normally by opening a file Apple () Menu and click close from the menu bar. This is more secure, but you may find that your Mac takes a long time to shutdown if it needs to finish updates or close apps first.

If your Mac won’t shut down normally, use the following steps to reduce the risk of data loss before forcing your Mac to shutdown.

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Save open files

Your Mac is more likely to freeze when working on a large project. If this is the case, you don’t want to lose any unsaved progress by forcing your Mac to shutdown too soon.

Try to save each of the open files by pressing cmd + s or choose File > Save from the menu bar. If possible, you may want to make a new Time Machine backup before rebooting.

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 recreate it later. Obviously, this isn’t ideal, but it’s better than losing your job forever.

Eject external storage devices

Forcing your Mac to shutdown does not give it a chance to safely eject external drives. Whether you use these drives for Time Machine backups or external storage, ejecting them insecurely can cause their data to be irreparably corrupted.

To safely eject your external storage devices, go to desktop and drag the external drive to a file waste icon in the Dock. Instead, open discoverer and click Directed by button next to your drive in the sidebar.

Quit every application

If your Mac won’t shut down normally, it’s likely because one of your apps has frozen and refused to boot. You can help with matters by manually closing each app yourself. There is a chance that doing this will unfreeze your Mac, so you don’t need to force it to shutdown or restart after all.

press cmd + s To quit your current app or tap the app’s name in the menu bar and select Leaves [App]. Navigate between your open apps with Cmd + Tab To see what other apps are still running.

You can force quit Mac apps if any of them refuse to boot normally. press Option + Cmd + Escape To open the Force Quit window. Select the unresponsive application in this window, then click force out to close it.

After closing each app, try to shutdown your Mac normally using the Apple () menu. If you still can’t do it — or if you can’t close every app — learn how to force shutdown or restart your Mac below.

How to force shutdown or restart your Mac

If your Mac is completely frozen and unresponsive, the only way to fix it is to use force shutdown or restart. The methods for how to force shutdown or restart your Mac are exactly the same for a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, Mac mini, or any other type of Mac, whether it’s using an Apple silicon or Intel chip.

Here are three different ways to do this.

1. Press the power button

Every Mac has a power button. On a laptop — like a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air — you’ll usually find it in the top right of your keyboard or Touch Bar. It may have a power or output icon on it, or the Touch ID sensor may be blank.

On an iMac, you’ll find the power button behind the lower left corner of the screen. If you look at the back of an iMac, you will find it at the bottom right. On the Mac mini, the button is small on the back.

To force shutdown your Mac, press and hold the power button until the screen goes black. This may take 10 seconds or more; Just keep pressing the button. After your Mac shuts down, wait a few moments for it to cool down, then briefly press the power button again to turn it back on.

If the screen is already black when starting, hold the power button until the Apple logo appears.

2. Use the keyboard shortcut

There are two keyboard shortcuts you can use to shutdown your Mac: the first one tries to safely close apps first, and the second one forces your Mac to shutdown without closing anything. For this reason, it is best to try the first shortcut first.

To safely lock your Mac, tap Control + Option + Cmd + Power. Don’t hold down the power button or it will force your Mac to shutdown; Do a short press on the other buttons instead.

This shortcut may not work if your Mac can’t safely close every app, in which case you need to force your Mac to close instead. press Control + Cmd + Power (without option) to do so. This time you need to hold down the keys for a few seconds before your Mac shuts down.

3. Battery drain

Even when your Mac is frozen, you can usually force it to shutdown using one of the two methods mentioned above. However, there are some rare situations in which they don’t work either.

If so, the next best way is to remove the power supply or discharge the battery. Again, it is important to know this Turning off your Mac in this way could potentially damage your Mac. You may lose unsaved data, or worse, you may create corrupt files on your hard drive which will lead to even bigger problems with your Mac.

You should only remove the power supply from your Mac as a last resort.

If you have a MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro, disconnect the power cable and wait until the battery runs out. You may need to wait all night for this to happen, depending on the health of the battery. But eventually your Mac will turn off. When it does, charge it back up and turn it on.

With older MacBook models, you can remove the battery from the bottom of the computer instead. This is a faster way to shut down your MacBook.

If you have an iMac, Mac mini, Mac Studio, or any other desktop Mac, simply unplug the power cable from the back of the computer. Wait a few moments for your Mac to cool down, then reconnect the power cable and turn it on again.

Find out what to do if your Mac won’t turn on again

Most of the time, a frozen Mac should boot up again normally after being forced to shutdown or restart. Any apps that aren’t running should work smoothly and you can continue on any important projects you’ve been working on.

However, your Mac may refuse to boot again if an underlying problem caused it to freeze in the first place. Possible issues range from outdated software to faulty hard drives. Fortunately, you can fix a lot of these on your own.

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