How to Exit an App on Mac: A Step-by-Step Guide


Ted Stinson

Exiting an app on a Mac is a simple process that can be done in a few different ways. Whether you’re looking to quickly close out of an app or need to force quit an unresponsive program, this guide will walk you through the steps to successfully exit any app on your Mac.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Exit an App on Mac

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to know that exiting an app on a Mac will close the program and any unsaved work may be lost. Make sure to save your progress before proceeding.

Step 1: Use the Red "X" Button

Click the red "X" button in the top-left corner of the app window.

This is the most common way to close an app on a Mac. When you click the red "X" button, the app window will close, but the app may still be running in the background.

Step 2: Use the Menu Bar

Go to the Menu Bar, click on the app’s name, and select "Quit [App Name]."

Using the Menu Bar to exit an app ensures that the app completely shuts down. This method is useful if you want to make sure the app is not running in the background.

Step 3: Use the Dock

Right-click on the app’s icon in the Dock and select "Quit."

Right-clicking on the app’s icon in the Dock is another quick way to exit the app. This method also ensures the app is fully closed and not running in the background.

Step 4: Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Press Command (⌘) + Q to quit the app.

Keyboard shortcuts can be a fast and efficient way to exit apps without having to navigate through menu options. Just make sure the app you want to close is the active window before using the shortcut.

Step 5: Use Force Quit

If the app is unresponsive, press Command (⌘) + Option + Esc to open the Force Quit Applications window, select the app, and click "Force Quit."

In the event that an app freezes and you’re unable to close it using the above methods, Force Quit is your last resort. Be aware that using Force Quit will not save any unsaved work.

Once you’ve completed these steps, the app will be closed and you can continue using your Mac without any disruptions from the exited app.

Tips for Exiting an App on Mac

  • Always save your work before exiting an app to avoid losing any progress.
  • If an app is unresponsive, try using the Force Quit option as a last resort.
  • Customize your Dock to include only frequently used apps for easy access and management.
  • Use keyboard shortcuts to increase efficiency when managing open apps.
  • Regularly check for updates to ensure your apps run smoothly and are less likely to become unresponsive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between closing an app and quitting an app on a Mac?

Closing an app by clicking the red "X" button may leave the app running in the background, while quitting the app fully shuts it down.

Can I quit multiple apps at once on a Mac?

Yes, you can use the Command (⌘) + Tab shortcut to switch between open apps and then use Command (⌘) + Q to quit each one.

What happens if I use Force Quit on an app?

Force Quit immediately shuts down the app, but you may lose any unsaved work in the process.

How do I know if an app is still running after I close it?

Check the Dock for a small dot under the app’s icon, indicating it’s still running, or use the Activity Monitor to see all active processes.

Can I set an app to automatically exit after a certain period of inactivity?

No, Mac does not have a built-in feature for automatically exiting apps after inactivity. You’ll need to manually close or quit the app.


  1. Click the red "X" button to close the app window.
  2. Use the Menu Bar and select "Quit [App Name]" to fully shut down the app.
  3. Right-click on the app’s icon in the Dock and select "Quit."
  4. Press Command (⌘) + Q to quit the app using a keyboard shortcut.
  5. Press Command (⌘) + Option + Esc and select "Force Quit" if the app is unresponsive.


Exiting an app on a Mac is a straightforward process that can be accomplished in various ways. Whether you’re a seasoned Mac user or new to the platform, understanding how to properly close or quit apps is essential for maintaining an organized and efficient workspace. Remember to always save your work before exiting to avoid any potential data loss, and don’t be afraid to use the Force Quit function if an app becomes unresponsive. With these tips and steps, you’ll be navigating your Mac like a pro in no time. Happy computing!