How To Restart a Frozen Mac

There is probably nothing more annoying than a non-responsive program or computer, especially when you've worked for hours on the computer making documents and it suddenly freezes and won't let you do anything further. There are safe ways to help your computer or programs restart from their frozen state.

  1. Restart the Mac. When the Mac refuses to do anything and you can't seem to do anything to make it respond, you can go to the power button on your Mac and hold it down for about ten seconds. After a couple of seconds your computer desktop will display a window with options to Restart, Sleep, Cancel or Shut Down. If your cursor won't budge try the direction keys on your keyboard or if you hold down the power button long enough it will shut down by itself.
  2. Frozen programs. Codes that make your programs work may have errors and cause the program to freeze so you can't make it do anything. It is fixed in its position and the controls won't execute, not even let you save the progress you've made. In this situation you can try to exit the program and restart, and see if the problem persists. Usually when a program just stops responding it will quit automatically and a window will a appear telling you that the program has quit unexpectedly and give you options to Close, Report, or Reopen. Another window could also be displayed showing Close, Try Again, or Report. When the program restarts, the default settings will be used and whatever shortcuts and changes you've made to the program will be lost. You have the option of saving the settings or set up the program for how you want it to perform, then save your preferences.
  3. Try various commands. There are various commands you can try on your Mac that will help shutdown the computer or restart it with the last known settings that worked if a serious error has occurred. These commands are possible when the keyboard is still active. Press Control-Command-Eject will exit all the running programs, but will enable you to save your work before it restarts the computer. Pressing Control-Option-Command-Eject won't restart the computer, but will shut it down until you manually turn it on again. Control-Eject will ask if you want to Restart, Sleep, Cancel or Shut down the Mac. If you need the computer to sleep for a while until you are ready to work, you can use Command-Option-Eject.
  4. Last resort. As a last resort, only if you've done everything you could possibly do to safely shut down the Mac or its programs, you can just pull the power plug. It's not recommended to do so since it could cause further damage to your Mac, so just use this method as a last resort when all attempts fail.

When the Mac or programs stop responding you can use these commands and procedures to safely exit the computer and start over. Try to report the incident so you can find the errors and find a solution for them so it won't happen again.


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