How to Force a Program to Close in Windows Without Using Task Manager

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How to Force a Program to Close in Windows Without Using Task Manager
How to Force a Program to Close in Windows Without Using Task Manager

It’s inconvenient when Windows applications freeze. Everyone has clicked on anything in an app only to have the window fade away and the dreaded Not Responding text appear.

The Task Manager is a good place to start if you want to force-close frozen applications. However, this isn’t always the best solution. If you want to terminate programs in Windows quicker, we’ll teach you how to force-quit without using the Task Manager.

How to Force Close Apps Using a Desktop Shortcut

The taskkill command may be used to forcibly close an application without using the Task Manager. Normally, you would type this command into the Command Prompt to terminate a particular process.

However, opening the command line window every time a program stops responding is inconvenient, and entering the command every time you wish to end an app is inefficient. Instead, you may use a shortcut that immediately dismisses any frozen programs to force-close app windows. This performs the identical Command Prompt command that you would enter manually, but without you having to open and type it yourself.

Here’s how to make a shortcut to end frozen processes:

  1. Select New > Shortcut from the shortcut menu when you right-click an empty spot on your desktop.
  2. You’ll be prompted to specify a location for the shortcut. Paste the following command into that box: “status eq not responding” taskkill /f /fi When broken down, this command is straightforward to grasp:
    • taskkill is the command for terminating a process, which should be used when anything is frozen.
    • /f instructs the command to force-quit the application. Without this, Windows politely requests that the process be terminated, which will not work if it is stuck.
    • /fi instructs the command to execute only on processes that fulfill the filter criteria listed below.
    • Finally, the phrase included in quotation marks is the command criterion. You want it to terminate only processes with the status Not Responding. Otherwise, this command would terminate all currently operating processes!
  3. After that, the shortcut creation window will prompt you to name your new shortcut. Call it anything you want, then click Finish. Right-click on your new shortcut and choose Properties. To create a custom keyboard shortcut, go to the Shortcut tab and click on the Shortcut key box. Windows will add Ctrl + Alt to each letter you press by default, but you may alter it to Ctrl + Shift if you choose. Because this shortcut will temporarily start a Command Prompt window, set Run to Minimized. This prevents a distracting flash of the app’s window when you hit the shortcut.

You may now force-quit an application at any moment by double-clicking this shortcut. This will terminate any sticky windows. Place it on your desktop for convenient access, or go one step further and start it with your keyboard.

How to Force-Close Apps Using a Keyboard Shortcut

You may speed up this procedure by creating a custom keyboard shortcut to launch the task killer command you just created. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Right-click on your new shortcut and choose Properties.
  2. On the Shortcut tab, click in the Shortcut key box to set a custom keyboard shortcut. Windows will automatically add Ctrl + Alt to any letter you press, but you can change it to Ctrl + Shift if you like.
  3. Because this shortcut will momentarily launch a Command Prompt window, you should set Run to Minimized. Doing so means you won’t see a disrupting flash of the app’s window when you press the shortcut.
  4. Click OK to save changes.

Now, if an app locks up, utilize your preferred shortcut to shut it. This is the quickest technique to force-close applications, and it just takes a few seconds.

Alternative Methods to Force-Quit Programs in Windows

The approach described above is the simplest way to force-quit apps that have locked up without using the Task Manager. However, there are also more approaches and technologies you should be aware of.

Try Closing With Alt + F4 First

When applications freeze, hitting Alt + F4 is a fundamental debugging procedure. This is the Windows keyboard shortcut for closing the current process, which is the same as clicking the X symbol in the upper-right corner of a window.

As a result, it won’t force-close a program that’s genuinely stuck, but it’s worth a go if the app just experienced a tiny problem. It’s especially helpful if your mouse stops reacting for a time after the application has frozen.

Force a Program to Close With SuperF4

SuperF4 is a simple software that allows you to force-quit any window, even if it isn’t responding. It, like the taskkill command, compels processes to halt instantly rather than gradually closing them.

As a result, the software will not check to see whether you’ve saved your work before closing, so exercise caution while using this app. SuperF4 also has a mode that allows you to drag your cursor to any window you wish to kill and then click to force-quit it.

By default, the program closes using the Ctrl + Alt + F4 key combination. Although it hasn’t been updated since 2019, its simplicity is still useful.

Force-Close Programs With a Task Manager Alternative

Technically, utilizing a Task Manager alternative is another technique to force-close apps without using the Task Manager. For example, if you want additional power, Process Explorer will undoubtedly meet your requirements.

If the Task Manager isn’t working and you need to terminate an application, visit our article on how to resolve the “Task Manager has been deactivated” problem.

How to Force-Close Programs With AutoHotkey

To force-close windows, you may simply write a simple AutoHotkey script. If you don’t use AutoHotkey for anything else, this is a bit excessive, but given the program’s strength, you’re certain to discover additional applications for it.

You must first download AutoHotkey and then build a script using the following line:


Place the completed file in your Startup folder (type shell:startup into the File Explorer address bar to get there) so that it starts every time you log in. Then press Win + Alt + Q to close the current window.

AutoHotkey is a sophisticated application that can do just much everything you can think of, so if you want to build up a more complicated script, check out our AutoHotkey beginner’s tutorial.

Other Third-Party Apps for Force-Closing Programs

If none of the above techniques work for you, there are more third-party applications available that can force-close Windows apps. ProcessKO is a wonderful choice for expert users since it includes features such as the ability to terminate a particular process after a predefined time period. It has also received official support for Windows 11, although SuperF4 has not.

Most other possibilities are quite similar to the ones listed above, so we suggest looking through them all before looking for an alternative.

If you can’t get a software to shut, your final option is to restart your computer. If you can’t get to the security screen by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del and then shutting down using the Power icon, you’ll have to do a hard shutdown. Hold down the Power button on your computer for several seconds until it turns off. If this fails, remove the power plug or, if feasible, the battery from your laptop.

Force-Closing Windows Has Never Been Easier

Hopefully, you don’t have to deal with this too often. If you have a recurring issue with a piece of software, it may be worth applying the most recent updates or seeking for a replacement. A program’s problems are virtually always caused by something, much as when Windows crashes.

Regardless, the odd crash is an unwelcome fact that every computer user must contend with. You now know how to quickly exit stuck apps without having to access the Task Manager. Just keep in mind how handy the Task Manager is!

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