Control Alt Delete on a Mac - How to Open Task Manager on your Macbook
It happens to the best of us: we're working away on some important project, and our trusty computer freezes. Or rather, a program we're in just stops responding. So what do you do?
If you have a Windows machine, you can just use the familiar CTRL+ALT+DEL sequence to force quit whatever program is misbehaving. But that doesn't work on a Mac.
Don't worry, though - there is one super simple way to force quit on a Mac (and a couple other methods you can keep in your back pocket as well). Let's learn what that is.
How to force quit on a Mac
The easiest way to force a program to quit on your Mac is a simple key sequence similar to ctrl+alt+delete. Just tap COMMAND+OPTION+ESC, in that order. Here's where those keys are located on a typical Mac keyboard:
This will bring up a task manager type window that looks like this:
Then just select the non-responsive program and hit "Force Quit" which will stop that program from running.
Note : since you'll be forcing that program to quit in the middle of whatever you were doing, any unsaved data might be lost. Make sure you enable auto-saving, back up your projects often, and keep your computer clean and up to date.
An alternative method
Why learn just one way to force quit when you can learn two? Click the Apple logo at the top left of your screen in the menu bar. Scroll down to "Force Quit" and it'll bring up the same task manager.
Simple as that!
Now that you've dealt with your crashing application, you can get back to work. :)
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How to open the Task Manager on Mac and monitor load
Similarly to the Windows equivalent, in the Apple Task Manager you can easily close programs that are frozen or hanging . But if you want more details about a problem, you’ll need to open the Mac Activity Monitor. This lets you kill unused or unresponsive applications, and consult statistics on CPU and memory load, and energy use . But how do you open the Task Manager on a Mac? And what information is shown in the Activity Monitor? We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you out.
Force quitting programs using the Mac Task Manager
Memory pane, energy pane, network pane.
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The Mac Task Manager is a mini-version of the Activity Monitor. To open it, simultaneously press down the [CMD] + [ALT] + [ESC] keys on your keyboard. This will open a window containing a list of all currently opened programs and applications that are running in the background. Select the program or application that has frozen and click on the “Force Quit” button to close it.
The Alt key is also referred to as the Option key. In fact, on some keyboards it is actually labeled “Option”.
Mac Activity Monitor and CPU load
Like the Task Manager, the Mac Activity Monitor also lists all of the processes that are running on the system. You can open it by going into Applications and selecting Utilities , or searching for it directly in Spotlight by clicking on the magnifying glass in the upper-right corner of the menu bar.
The Mac Activity Monitor is split into several sections: CPU, Memory, Energy, Disk, Network, and (in later versions) Cache . The list of processes includes user apps, system apps used by the operating system, and invisible background processes. You can choose which columns to display and filter the processes by going into the “View” menu. As well as the Mac Activity Monitor, you can also install other programs such as htop to manage system processes.
The “CPU” pane shows how different processes are affecting CPU performance . Alongside the stats in the “Energy” pane, this information can help you work out what processes are affecting the performance, battery runtime, temperature and fan activity of your Mac. Just below the main window, you will see an additional section containing the following information:
- System : Percentage of CPU capability currently being used by system processes.
- User : Percentage of CPU capability currently being used by apps or processes launched by the user.
- Idle : Percentage of CPU capability not in use.
- CPU Load : Percentage of CPU capability currently being used by all processes (System and User combined).
- Threads : Total number of threads used across all processes.
- Processes : Total number of processes that are currently running.
When you open the Activity Monitor, you might notice that the CPU load for the kernel_task process is rather high, and also that the fan is working harder than usual. One of the roles of kernel_task is to regulate the temperature of the CPU .
The Memory pane of the Mac Activity Monitor tells you how memory is currently being used . The section at the bottom shows the following statistics:
- Memory Pressure : This is a graph that illustrates the availability of memory resources.
- Physical Memory : Total amount of RAM installed.
- Memory Used : Total amount of RAM currently in use.
- App Memory : Total amount of memory currently being used by apps and their processes.
- Wired Memory : Memory that cannot be compressed or paged out to the hard drive and that must therefore remain in RAM.
- Compressed : Amount of RAM that is compressed to make space for other processes.
- Swap Used : Space that the memory management system of the OS is using on your startup drive.
- Cached Files : Memory that was recently used by apps but is now available to other apps.
The “Energy” pane provides information on overall energy use and tells you how much energy is being used by each app. As in the other views, you can click the column headings to sort the processes according to the values measured. The bottom pane shows the following:
- Energy Impact : Total energy used by all apps.
- Graphics Card : Type of graphics card installed.
- Remaining Charge : Percentage of battery charge remaining.
- Time Until Full : Amount of time the Mac must be plugged into the mains before it is fully charged.
- Time on AC : Time elapsed since the Mac was plugged in.
- Time Remaining : Estimated amount of time the Mac can keep running on battery.
- Time on Battery : Time elapsed since the Mac was unplugged.
- Battery (Last 12 hours): Battery charge level over the last 12 hours.
The “Disk” pane shows how much data each process has read from or written to your disk. It also shows “reads in” and “writes out” (IO), that is, the number of times your Mac accesses the disk to read and write data. The information at the bottom of the “Disk” pane shows the total disk activity for all processes combined.
In the “Network” pane you can see how much data your Mac is sending and receiving over the network. This allows you to identify processes that are sending or receiving the largest amounts of data . The information at the bottom of the “Network” pane shows the total network activity for all apps combined.
In macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 or later, the Activity Monitor has an additional pane called “Cache” (if Content Caching is enabled in the “Sharing” pane of System Preferences). This pane shows information such as how much cached content local network devices have uploaded, downloaded or dropped over time.
The information available in the Activity Monitor will depend on what Apple devices and macOS version you are using.
The function to split a screen on a Mac desktop or a MacBook provides a convenient way to view and work on two open applications simultaneously. In order to split a screen on Mac, you only need to follow a few simple steps. The opened applications can then be viewed next to one another.
Protect sensitive or private data from prying eyes by finding out how to lock folders on your Mac. Simply put, you just have to collect all your important files into a single folder, create an image file, and protect the folder with a password. To learn exactly how to password protect a folder on your Mac, however, see the step-by-step instructions below.
Recording the screen of your MacBook or iMac is a useful way to help explain things to friends, colleagues, or support staff. As of macOS Mojave, Apple has included its own alternative to the popular QuickTime player, so that you can record your screen quickly and easily. We’ll explain how to record your Mac screen using either one of these tools.
If your Mac starts to struggle with simple tasks and is unable to launch programs as normal, this typically means there’s a serious problem with the operating system. Starting the Mac in safe mode can provide a quick solution for rectifying lots of minor issues and system errors. Read this article to find out how to boot your Mac in safe mode.
Free up space on your Mac’s hard drive and delete applications you don’t need (anymore) with just a few clicks. Our step-by-step instructions including screenshots will take you through the options you have via the Launchpad and Finder to delete an installed Mac application.
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In-depth guide to the task manager for Mac
By the virtue of being on Windows for many years, most users develop a muscle memory in hitting Ctrl + Alt + Delete when their PC acts up to open the Task Manager and restart a stalling process. It's just part of daily life. But what's the Mac equivalent of Task Manager?
Some say there's no need for the Apple Task Manager, as Macs run better and smoother than their PC counterparts. And while this is largely true, from time to time you absolutely need a way to force quit Mac processes to keep it in good shape.
So how to get Task Manager on Mac? Easy! There's already an OSX Task Manager pre-installed (or rather the Mac equivalent of Task Manager) — called Activity Monitor, which you can find in Applications > Utilities.
Below is a guide for long-time Windows users in the process of onboarding to Mac and hence wondering, "Where is Task Manager?" "How to get Task Manager on Mac?" "How to open Task Manager on Mac?" Mac users who haven't used the MacBook Activity Monitor in a while will find the instructions on how to halt Mac processes useful as well.
What is Activity Monitor?
Activity Monitor is basically an alternative to Windows Task Manager, a utility that shows how much memory your Mac processes are using and which apps are currently active (even if they aren't open), letting you force quit stalled ones if you can't close them the usual way.
If you've never used this task manager for Mac before, it can be quite a lot to take in. But don't worry, we’ll discuss how to use Activity Monitor in a moment.
How to open Task Manager on Mac?
Unfortunately, there are no keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl + Alt + Delete to open your Mac process monitor, but launching Activity Monitor is still quite simple. Pick one of the three ways to do it.
Open Activity Monitor from Spotlight:
- Press Command + Space to open Spotlight
- Start typing Activity Monitor
- Once Activity Monitor comes up highlighted, hit Enter or click on it.
Open Activity Monitor from Finder:
- Click on Finder in your Dock
- Navigate to Applications in the sidebar
- Choose Utilities in the Applications window
- Double-click on the Activity Monitor icon
Open Activity Monitor from Dock:
If you've been having recurring troubles, setting up Activity Monitor in your Dock is absolutely worth doing. It's essentially a handy one-click Mac Task Manager shortcut.
But before you can open Activity Monitor from your Dock, you need to use one of the previous two methods first. Then, once Activity Monitor is active:
- Right-click on the Activity Monitor icon in your Dock
- Select Options
- Choose "Keep in Dock"
"Keep in Dock" should now have a checkmark beside it, which means it will stay in the Dock even if you quit the app — then you can launch it like any other program.
Are there better Apple Task Manager alternatives?
While Activity Monitor is definitely the Mac equivalent of Task Manager, sometimes you want to monitor your Mac's processes a little more closely and get real-time updates on your Mac's performance. iStat Menus will help you do that.
iStat Menus gives you fast updates on what's using your Mac's resources at just a glance. Working hard right from the menu bar, the app displays graphs for nearly every function of your Mac, so you can instantly find out what's wrong or just notice how your Mac behaves in different conditions.
You can choose which iStat Menus trackers to install, depending on the tasks you want to keep your eye on. Once you install them, they will be available in the menu bar, just a click away, so you don’t have to open any apps to know how your Mac is doing.
Here are the key things you can monitor with iStat Menus:
- CPU an GPU, with detailed history graphs, uptime, the apps that consume a big chunk of CPU, etc.
- Memory usage
- Network usage and bandwidth breakdown for top apps
- Sensors, including temperature, fans, CPU and GPU frequency
- Used disk space and disk activity
- Battery and power.
It's likely that if you need a macOS Task Manager it's because your computer is running slowly. But don't just address the symptom, address the cause. Instead of quitting processes, get your Mac to run smoothly overall with CleanMyMac X.
CleanMyMac X is optimization software that's designed to improve your Mac's performance with just a few clicks. It removes user and system caches, protects against malware, uninstalls unwanted software — all to bring your Mac back up to speed. If there's an app constantly stalling or hanging up, it's probably due to a conflict with some other process — CleanMyMac X will clear it up right away:
- Open the app
- Navigate to System Junk > Scan
- Review Details to see what might be wrong and hit Clean
How to force quit an application?
If you're looking for answers regarding the Mac OS Task Manager, chances are it's because some app has stalled on you. Sometimes, you won’t even know which app is causing the problem. Here’s how to easily quit apps and fix the problem:
- Open Quit All via Setapp
- Select the apps (including background apps: Settings > View background apps)
- Hit the Quit All button.
Quit All’s main advantage over macOS force quit is that it can deal with tricky background processes that are not so easy to tame. Plus, Quit All will always prompt you to save all the unsaved changes before quitting apps.
Another solution for force quitting select apps on Mac is to use Activity Monitor:
- Navigate to either the CPU or the Memory tab and find the slow process
- Click to highlight
- Press the X icon in the top toolbar
- Confirm that you're sure you want to quit the process.
The other force-quit option is from the Force Quit Applications window:
- Press Command + Option + Esc
- Highlight the program you want to quit
- Click Force Quit
Check out: Mac startup programs
How to use Activity Monitor on a Mac
If you decide to use Activity Monitor as your task manager on Mac, you should learn how to work with its monitor indicators.
The first tab in Activity Monitor lists all the processes that are currently taking up your Mac's CPU, displays the exact percentages of power they are consuming, and notes how long they have been running.
You can sort all processes in Activity Monitor by CPU usage, from highest to lowest, by choosing View > All Processes and clicking on the %CPU column.
There's a process you might notice in the CPU tab called "kernel_task" that could be taking a large share of resources. Don't panic and don't shut it down! The process simply ensures your CPU isn't working too hard by forcing other memory-intensive Mac processes out. As a result, it might seem like one of the heaviest processes on the list. Similarly, "mds" and "mdworker" help index files for the Spotlight search, which sometimes spikes their appetite.
Check RAM usage
The second tab reflects how much RAM every process is taking up, which could be the most useful indicator of all. RAM is directly responsible for the speed of your Mac, so getting rid of heavy users is the fastest way to speed things up.
Another interesting feature of the Memory tab is the RAM Pressure Gauge at the bottom. If the bar is green then your Mac's RAM isn't being taxed too much. But if it turns red — consider buying additional memory for your machine.
Tip : To decrease CPU and RAM consumption by apps, use App Tamer , a menu bar utility that spots heavy consumers on your Mac and slows them down automatically.
Check for energy use in macOS task manager
The middle tab comes in handy when you’re using your MacBook without plugging it in. Here you can easily find apps and processes that drain your battery and quit them to extend your screen time.
Tip : check Avg Energy Impact — this will tell you which apps consume the most energy on average. If you don’t use those apps often, consider getting rid of them.
Disk activity on a Mac
Even though this tab might not be the most useful one for daily use, it still shows how various processes interact with your hard drive, rewriting data. If you ever happen to install some malware, you might find its processes here as large outliers and quit them just in time.
Check network activity on a Mac
The last tab in Activity Monitor reflects the amount of data received and sent by every app you have installed. Again, it's generally good for spotting outliers that might send too much data online.
Tip : TripMode is a great tool to install if you want to reduce data usage. Particularly great if you’re on the go or have a limited data plan.
Inspect processes in Activity Monitor
If you want to dive deeper into a specific process running on your Mac, highlight this process in Activity Monitor and press Command + I. Alternatively, go to View > Inspect Process. On the inspection screen, you’ll find information about how much CPU and memory this process is using, how long it is running, and more.
Enhance your Mac’s performance with one Mac toolkit
Knowing how to use your MacBook Task Manager to check on your Mac’s performance is essential, and following the tips above is a good start. The next step is to have the tools that will help fix Mac performance in case there are any issues.
Setapp has it all — a toolkit with advanced task manager iStat Menus and a Mac optimizer CleanMyMac X. Plus, with Setapp, you get many small utilities such as Quit All for force quitting apps, App Tamer for reducing CPU usage, TripMode for optimizing network activity, and more. The toolkit is available for a free 7-day trial.
Sign up to Setapp and try them for free.
- How to Control+Alt+Delete on a Mac and Force Quit apps
- How to view and kill processes on your Mac
- iStat Menus: An Advanced System Monitor for Your Menubar
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How to Use Task Manager macOS and Activity Monitor
Before I started using a Macbook, I was always a Windows user. Making the change wasn’t easy, as many things are different on the macOS X system than any Windows I’ve seen before. Don't be afraid if you’re in the same shoes as I was. Everything you know and love from Windows can be found on a Mac under a different name.
One frequent thing new Mac users seem to look for is the Task Manager . It’s a useful tool on Windows that allows you to see a plethora of information at once. With the Task Manager, you can force quit apps (known as the “End Task” option on Windows) and see various consumption details.
Coming from Windows , I know that the Task Manager is an essential tool to identify issues or force quit apps. It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction to open it as soon as you suspect something is wrong. However, the classic “ Ctrl-Alt-Del ” shortcut doesn’t work on a Mac. Trust me, I tried.
On macOS X, this tool is called the Activity Monitor . It delivers on the same premise but operates in a slightly different way. If you’re lost and want to know where to find this tool and how to use it on Mac, this article is here to help.
Summary: Task Manager MacOS
The Mac Task Manager is a mini-version of the Activity Monitor. To open it, simultaneously press down the [CMD] + [ALT] + [ESC] keys on your keyboard . This will open a window containing a list of all currently opened programs and applications that are running in the background.
What is Activity Monitor in Mac?
Activity Monitor in Mac is basically the equivalent of Windows Task Manager. This utility shows how much memory your Mac processes are using and which apps are currently active (even if they aren't open), letting you force quit stalled ones if you can't close them the usual way. If you've never used the task manager in Mac before, it can be quite a lot to take in.
How to open the Task Manager on Mac - Task Manager macOS
Most Windows users know you can quickly fire up the Task Manager by right-clicking on the taskbar. This feature is missing from Mac, as right-clicking on the Dock only brings up some settings.
So, how exactly do you open the Activity Monitor — the Mac equivalent of the Task Manager — if there’s no shortcut or Dock option?
Launching Activity Monitor (Task Manager Mac) is still quite simple. Pick one of the three ways to do it:
Open Activity Monitor from Spotlight:
- Press Command + Space to open Spotlight
- Start typing Activity Monitor
- Once Activity Monitor comes up highlighted, hit Enter or click on it.
Open Activity Monitor from Finder:
- Go to your Launchpad (the rocket icon in your Dock) or Click on Finder in your Dock.
- Double-click on the Activity Monitor icon.
Open Activity Monitor from Dock:
If you're having recurring troubles, setting up Activity Monitor in your Dock is something worth doing. It's essentially a handy one-click Mac Task Manager shortcut. But before you can open Activity Monitor from your Dock, you must first use one of the previous two methods. Then, once Activity Monitor is active:
- Right-click on the Activity Monitor icon in your Dock.
- Select Options.
- You can launch Task Manager mac like any other program.
What is the Control-Alt-Delete shortcut for Mac?
Sadly, there’s no direct shortcut to open the Task Manager on a Mac. However, you can use a shortcut to force quit applications, which is one of the things the Task Manager in Windows is capable of.
Press the ⌘-Option-Esc shortcut on your Mac to bring up the Force Quit utility. Here, simply select the app you want to close and click on the blue button in the corner. If an application is frozen and not responding, its name will be highlighted in red.
How to use Activity Monitor on a Mac - How to use Mac Task Manager
If you decide to use Activity Monitor as your task manager on Mac, you should learn how to work with its monitor indicators.
When you open the Activity Monitor, you’ll be able to see all of the applications currently running on your Mac. The apps and processes appear even if running in the background, making it easy to spot unusual activity.
Task Manager mac - CPU usage
By default, the Activity Monitor opens on the CPU tab. This means you can see what’s consuming the most of your Mac's CPU power. It also shows you the exact percentages of power they are consuming and how long each app has been running.
You can sort all processes in Activity Monitor by CPU usage, from highest to lowest, by choosing View > All Processes and clicking on the %CPU column.
You might notice a process in the CPU tab called "kernel_task" that could take a large share of resources. Don't panic, and don't shut it down! The process simply ensures your CPU isn't working too hard by forcing other memory-intensive Mac processes out. As a result, it might seem like one of the heaviest processes on the list. Similarly, "mds" and "mdworker" help index files for the Spotlight search, which sometimes spikes their appetite.
Task Manager mac - Check RAM usage
Switching to the Memory tab (the second tab) in the Activity Monitor, you can see the amount of RAM each process consumes. RAM is directly responsible for the speed of your Mac, so getting rid of heavy users is the fastest way to speed things up. Like Windows, you need to pay attention to having enough RAM for your computer to function properly. If too much of your memory is taken up, you’ll notice that your system is slow and a pain to operate. Make sure to close out apps with high RAM consumption to avoid this.
Another interesting feature you can see in the Memory tab is the RAM Pressure Gauge at the bottom. If the bar is green, then your Mac's RAM isn't being taxed too much. But if it turns red — consider buying additional memory for your machine.
Tip: You can decrease CPU and RAM consumption by apps through the App Tamer, a menu bar utility that spots heavy consumers on your Mac and slows them down automatically.
Check for energy use in macOS task manager
The Energy tab helps you reduce battery usage by monitoring what applications are consuming your battery. Use this tab when your MacBook is unplugged to extend your battery life until you can plug back in.
Tip: check Avg Energy Impact — this will tell you which apps consume the most energy on average. If you don’t use those apps often, consider getting rid of them.
Disk activity on a Mac Task Manager
While the Disk tab is not as useful daily as the others, it’s still a crucial part of the Activity Monitor. Here’s where you can find all processes interacting with your hard drive and rewriting data. If you get a malware infection, you’ll be able to spot and quit the harmful processes here.
Network activity on a Mac Task Manager
The last tab in the Activity Monitor is the Network tab. It displays all the data sent and received by the apps you’re currently using. I personally use this tab to spot any outliers sending large amounts of data when I’m using my Mac to browse or work online.
Inspect processes in Mac Activity Monitor
If you want to go deeper into a specific process running on your Mac, highlight the process in Activity Monitor and press Command + I. Alternatively, to see the process go to View > Inspect Process. On the inspection screen, you’ll find information about how much CPU and memory this process uses, how long it runs, and more.
How to see your system status in the Dock with the Activity Monitor
You might think that it’s a hassle to constantly have to keep searching for the Activity Monitor to see the status of your Mac. I thought the same too, which is how I found out that there’s a much easier way.
Keep an eye on your system status right from your Dock by utilizing the live update feature of the Activity Monitor. Simply open the Activity Monitor and expand the View tab in the top-bar of your Mac. Here, hover over the Dock icon and select the desired update you want to see.
After choosing the option you wish to display, you’ll immediately see the Activity Monitor change to a live update.
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Hopefully, this article has given you the answers to your questions regarding the Task Manager in Mac. If you have anything else you want to know about the macOS system, make sure to visit our Help Center section to find further articles and guides.
Are you looking for more tips? Check out our other guides in the Softwarekeep Blog and our Help Center ! You'll find a wealth of information on how to troubleshoot various issues and find solutions to your tech problems.
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Where’s the ‘Task Manager’ on a Mac?
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast. Read more...
If you’re a veteran of Windows, you’re probably familiar with using Task Manager to deal with applications that freeze or checking memory usage. On a Mac, those tasks fall to a Force Quit dialog or a utility called Activity Monitor , which has shipped with every version of Mac OS X and macOS since 2000. Here’s how to use them.
Terminating Stubborn Programs with “Force Quit”
If you’re familiar with pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete on a Windows PC to kill a stubborn program, you’ll be glad to know that a similar three-finger combo exists on the Mac. When a program becomes unresponsive, simply press Command+Option+Esc to open the “Force Quit Applications” dialog .
A window will pop up that lists currently running apps. To close a stubborn one that refuses to quit normally, select it from the list, and click the “Force Quit” button.
After asking for confirmation, macOS will close the application you selected. Very handy.
Troubleshooting with More Detail: Activity Monitor
If you have a deeper system resource issue to look into on a Mac, such as memory consumption or detailed information on a particular app or process, you’ll want to use Activity Monitor. By default, Activity Monitor lives in a folder called “Utilities” within your Applications folder on your Mac.
One of the fastest ways to open Activity Monitor is by using Spotlight. To open “Spotlight,” click the small “magnifying glass” icon in your menu bar (or press Command+Space).
When the “Spotlight Search” bar appears, type “activity monitor,” and hit “Return.” Or you can click the “Activity Monitor.app” icon in the Spotlight results.
Once the “Activity Monitor” window opens, you will see a list of all the processes running on your Mac, similar to this:
Using the five tabs across the top of the window, you can visit displays that show information on running processes sorted by CPU usage (“CPU”), memory usage (“Memory”), energy usage (“Energy”), disk usage (“Disk”), and network usage (“Network”). Click the tab corresponding to the section you’d like to visit.
At any time while listing processes, you can select a process from the list, and click the “Stop” button (which looks like an octagon with an “x” inside it) to force it to quit, or click the “Inspect” button (an “i” in a circle) to see more information about the process.
And if you’re overwhelmed by the number of processes listed, you can narrow them down using the “View” menu up in the menu bar. For example, you could select “My Processes,” to see only a list of processes associated with your user account.
You can also search for a process using the search bar in the upper-right corner of the window. Just type in the name of the app or process you’re looking for, and it will appear in the list (if it is currently running).
Activity Monitor is very handy, so take some time to explore it, and you’ll become that much more adept at using it to troubleshoot your Mac . Have fun!
RELATED: How to Troubleshoot Your Mac With Activity Monitor
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How to Open Task Manager on a Mac: A Complete Guide on Mac's Activity Monitor
Can’t find task manager on mac read on as we have come up with detailed solutions on where is task manager on mac, how to open task manager on mac, and more..
Dec 23, 2022 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions
If you have also moved to the macOS ecosystem recently, then you can have a similar query as well. Unlike Windows, accessing the task manager on Mac can be a tedious job. Though, it is one of the essential features of the operating system. From monitoring the CPU consumption of an application to closing a process forcefully – there are so many things that you can do with Macbook task manager.
To help you do the same, we have come up with this detailed guide on macOS task manager. Read on and learn how to access the task manager on Mac in no time.
- Is There a Task Manager for Mac?
- How to Open Task Manager on Mac?
- How to Format Hard Drive for Mac and PC on Windows?
- How to Force Quit an Application on Mac?
- How to View Running Processes via Terminal?
- Tips for Using Task Manager on Mac
Part 1. Is There a Task Manager for Mac?
As you know, the task manager is a native feature on Windows computers. Though, Mac also has a similar component, which is known as Activity Monitor. As the name suggests, it will let you view and monitor all kinds of activities that are running on your Mac. You can view the CPU utilization of a process, system memory, disk storage, and other vital parameters. Furthermore, you can also use the Mac program manager to forcefully quit an app as well.
The feature was first introduced in Mac OS X v10.3 release and was initially known as process viewer or task manager on Mac. It was later when the tool was revamped and got released as an "Activity Monitor" with Mac OS X 10.9 release.
Part 2. How to Open Task Manager on Mac?
In order to access the features of the Mac process manager, you need to locate the application first. Here are some quick ways on how to open the task manager on Mac that you can also try.
1. Access Task Manager from the Finder
This is the easiest solution to open the task manager on Mac . All you got to do is click on the Apple icon from the main menu and visit System Preferences > Applications. From the available Applications on Finder, visit the Utility folder.
This will open all the utility tools and components on your Mac. Just look for the "Activity Monitor" tool and double-click its icon to open it.
2. Get Mac Task Manager on Spotlight
Spotlight is one of the most widely used features in Mac that helps us look for files and apps instantly. If you can't find where is task manager on Mac , then click on the spotlight bar (the search icon) at the top right corner of the screen. Now, just type "Activity Monitor" on it as Mac would look up for it in the background. As you would get the relevant results, click on the Activity Monitor app to open it.
3. Open Task Manager from Mac's Dock
Apart from Finder, Mac's dock also lets us access the vital tools and applications quickly. By default, Activity Monitor is already a part of Mac's dock. Though, you can just drag and drop its icon to include it in the dock as well. Just double-click the Activity Monitor icon on the dock to launch it.
If you want, you can further customize the task manager Mac icon as well. Just right-click the icon to access its context menu. From here, you can select what to monitor and change the dock icon to different options.
4. Use the Mac Task Manager Shortcut
Some macOS versions also have a keyboard shortcut to open task manager in Mac . All you got to do is press Command + Option + Shift + Esc keys at the same time. Keep holding them simultaneously for at least 3 seconds to launch the Activity Monitor app on the screen.
Part 3. How to Format Hard Drive for Mac and PC on Windows?
Now when you know how to access the task manager on Mac , you can easily make the most of it. It can help you monitor the activity of all kinds of apps and processes running on your system. If you want, you can even use the Mac task manager app to forcefully quite a process as well. Apart from that, you can get to know about the following components via task manager on Mac (Activity Monitor).
- CPU – This is the most important component as it provides a visual representation of the CPU utilization. Here, you can view how the processor of your Mac is affected by the app and what component is utilized by it. This can help you identify the most resource-consuming apps and processes.
- Memory – This is mostly the second component in Activity Monitor which depicts how much memory (RAM) a process is consuming on your Mac.
- Energy – If you are worried about the power consumption or overheating of Mac, then you should visit this tab. It will display the amount of energy consumed by an app or a process.
- Disk – This component will provide useful details about disk utilization on Mac. You can see the amount of disk an app has consumed, the kind of data consumed, who can access it, and so on.
- Network – Lastly, the tab will let you know the amount of data that has been exchanged on the network. This would include incoming and outgoing data via different sources.
Part 4. How to Force Quit an Application on Mac?
This is one of the major jobs of the Mac task manager app. It can help you monitor all kinds of above-listed parameters and let you forcefully quit an application too. For instance, if an application has been stuck or frozen, then you can just close it in the background using the task manager on Mac . Here are some of the simplest ways to forcefully quit an application on Mac.
1. Use the Apple Menu
If an application has been crashed on your Mac, then don't worry. Just press and hold the Shift key and click on the Apple logo (on the top left corner of the screen). Here, you can see an option of "Force Quit" with the name of the selected application. Just click on it to close the application in the background.
2. Use the Mac Dock
If you want, you can also take the assistance of Mac's dock to close an application as well. Needless to say, the mouse should be working and the app must be present on the dock. All you got to do is select the app icon and right-click it. From the available context menu, click on "Force Quit" to close it.
3. Use Activity Monitor
If you want to know about the details of an application before closing it, then consider using Activity Monitor. You can follow either of the above-listed methods to open the task manager on Mac . As you would get a list of all the running applications in the background, select the one that you wish to close. Click on the "Force Quit" button and confirm your choice to close the selected application.
Part 5. How to View Running Processes via Terminal?
Just like Activity Monitor, you can also use the Terminal to view all the running processes in your Mac. It will display a unique ID for every process, which you can later be used to kill the process as well.
- Go to your Mac's Applications > Utility and launch the Terminal app from here.
- Once the terminal app has been launched on your screen, simply type the "ps –ax" command and press enter.
- This will display a list of all the running processes with their process ID (known as PID).
Part 6. Tips for Using Task Manager on Mac
Since Activity Monitor (task manager on Mac) is such a useful component, it will come handy to you on different occasions. If you want to make the most of it, then consider following these tips.
- If the Activity Monitor icon is not added to the dock, then simply drag and drop it there. This will let you access it quickly.
- Using the task manager on Mac , you can even close some vital system processes. Therefore, try not to close a process you are not able to understand.
- You can also use the Activity Monitor the see the battery consumption of the system. It will also help you identify and close the most power-consuming apps.
- Ideally, it is used to forcefully close a malfunctioning application. Whenever an app would crash, open the Activity Monitor, select it, and forcefully quit the application.
- Try not to use the Activity Monitor to close apps on a regular basis. This might end up corrupting your apps at times.
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That brings us to the end of this informative guide on how to access the task manager on Mac. Not only have we discussed how to open the task manager on Mac, but we have also listed its usage and all the vital things we can do with it. Since Activity Monitor is the Mac equivalent of Task Manager (Windows), every user should be aware of it. Feel free to follow this guide and try to access Activity Monitor on your Mac as well.
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How to open Task Manager on Mac
If you have recently switched from Windows to Mac, you may find that most Windows keyboard shortcuts don’t work on a Mac. While navigating the Mac operating system does have its own method, most users find it intuitive and quick to learn.
The most frequently asked questions from new Mac users include: What is Control Alt Delete on a Mac, How to get Task Manager on a Mac, How to force quit on a Mac, and so on.
In this blog post, we will explain the Mac equivalent of the Windows Task Manager and how to view running processes in macOS.
1. What is the Control Alt Delete for Mac. 2. How to open Task Manager on a Mac. 3. How to see what programs are running on a Mac. 4. How to use Activity Monitor on a Mac. 5. How to force quit on a Mac. 6. How to monitor memory usage with Memory Cleaner. 7. Frequently asked questions about memory usage on a Mac.
1. What is the Control Alt Delete shortcode for Mac
Control-Alt-Delete is a shortcut to call the Force Quit command for programs on Windows. For the macOS system, you should use the Command-Option-Escape shortcut to call the Force Quit Applications window.
Also, you can get this window by clicking the Apple icon in the Menu bar and selecting Force Quit .
2. How to open Task Manager on a Mac
When an application freezes on Windows, the Ctrl-Shift-Esc command is used to bring up the Task Manager and quit the process in question. But how about on a Mac? How do you end processes that crash Safari or lock the machine up?
First, we would like to mention that the Mac equivalent of Task Manager is called Activity Monitor. Just remember that Apple Task Manager = Activity Monitor .
Use one of these two ways to open Activity Monitor on a Mac:
3. How to see which programs are running on your Mac
1. Use Activity Monitor
With Activity Monitor, you can monitor many parameters of the system, such as:
- Energy used
- Network monitoring
2. Use Terminal* to view a list of running processes.
For those who prefer working with Terminal, there are simple commands to view the list of running programs. Just open the Terminal and type only one word:
If you need to view a list of the most voracious applications that consume the most bytes, sort them by CPU:
Sort applications by memory usage:
top -p size
*For more tips like this, see our previous article Top 8 most useful Terminal Commands.
4. How to use Activity Monitor on a Mac
Now let’s take a closer look at each parameter of open programs on a Mac. With help from Activity Monitor, we will identify the programs and processes that are consuming too much of your system’s resources.
How to check CPU usage on a Mac
If your Mac starts working too slowly, it overheats , the fans work continuously and make noise, and programs may freeze. Most likely there are some programs that are consuming a large portion of processor load. You can identify such programs with the help of Activity Monitor.
In this case, launch Activity Monitor and go to the CPU tab . Sort the list of programs by CPU column, find out the programs that use most CPU, and close such programs.
How to check RAM usage on a Mac
If your computer is running slowly, there are several indicators that your Mac’s performance is due to limited RAM. One example is when programs work slowly and documents even open slowly, but without overheating or the fans making noise. In this case, there is most likely not enough free RAM on your Mac for your programs to function properly. To create more free space, find the programs that use the most memory and close unused ones.
In the Activity Monitor app, go to the Memory tab , sort programs by memory usage, and close the apps that use the most memory.
How to find apps that are using and draining the most battery life
If your Macbook’s battery is draining very quickly, we recommend checking the programs which are using the most energy. To get this information, switch to the Energy tab within Activity Monitor . Here you can find the data relating to how apps use your Macbook’s battery. Find the apps that are using the most energy, and if you don’t need them at the moment, close them.
How to check Disk activity on a Mac
Most users don’t need to worry about the Disk tab . This part of Activity Monitor allows users to troubleshoot or monitor real-time disk activity. Here you can check how much data is being written to and read from your Mac’s drive by different processes, as well as the number of times that your Mac accesses the disk.
How to check Network activity on a Mac
If you are having internet problems, if some network accounts are unavailable, or if network connections fail often, then you should check Network activity on your Mac. Go to Activity Monitor’s Network tab to see how much bandwidth the processes are using. Then sort the programs by “sent Bytes” or “Read Bytes” to see the most active processes. Finally, close unneeded active programs.
5. How to force quit on a Mac
Whenever any application crashes on your Mac or it doesn’t respond for a while, you may need to force quit it. Here are several ways to do that:
1. Use the Dock panel.
Click the app’s icon in a Dock panel, hold the Option key and select Force Quit command.
2. Use the “Force Quit” dialogue.
What to do when the Dock won’t pop up? A list of open programs can be also viewed via a “Force Quit” dialogue. There are two ways to open the “Force Quit” dialogue:
- Use the simple keyboard shortcut Command + Option + Escape.
- Or go to the System Menu → select Force Quit command.
Then select the app you want to stop and click on Force Quit.
6. How to monitor memory usage with Memory Cleaner
In the previous paragraphs, we showed several ways to force quit apps on a Mac in order to find out what apps are running. Now we would like to share an easy way to complete all these tasks and speed up your Mac in just one click. Simply use the free utility, Memory Cleaner .
Memory Cleaner can display the list of apps that use the most memory on your Mac, clear inactive RAM memory with just one click, and stop all running applications. With the app, you can get access to memory usage directly from the menu bar.
As you can see, there are various equivalents of Task Manager on Mac, and Activity Monitor is one of them. It is a built-in utility that is used by most Mac users. However, if you want to monitor RAM memory usage and clear inactive RAM, we would recommend using the free Memory Cleaner app.
Frequently asked questions about memory usage on a Mac
The equivalent of Windows Task Manager on a Mac is the Activity Monitor application. Activity Monitor is the default Apple application, which you can easily find in Launchpad.
Activity Monitor displays open programs on your Mac, as well as detailed information about them, including CPU usage, memory usage, disk usage, network usage, and energy impact. With Activity Monitor you can manage working processes and quit tasks or apps.
Activity Monitor allows you to terminate all the processes and applications running on your system. But since most of the processes are system ones, we do not recommend selecting all the processes and click to force quit them all at once. Closing some system processes may prevent your Mac from functioning.
Select an app you want to terminate, and then use the Stop button on the toolbar.
Follow these steps to find malware using Activity Monitor:
- Quit all your network-related apps (web browsers, iTunes, email clients and so on).
- Disable Bluetooth.
- Disable all the options in the System Preferences → Sharing section.
- In Activity Monitor, go to the Network tab.
- Check whether there is unexpected network activity on your Mac.
In the Activity Monitor app, go to the CPU tab. Check which apps are using too much of the CPU’s resources. Select those apps and click the Stop button (X icon on the top).
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'Task Manager' on Mac: How to Find and Use the Activity Monitor
Users on Mac can sometimes face similar issues, and in such cases will usually click the Apple () symbol in the menu bar and select Force Quit... to kill an app from there.
Alternately, they'll fire up the Activity Monitor. Amongst other things, Activity Monitor lets you locate both frozen apps and background processes and force them to quit. Keep reading to learn how it's done.
- Launch the Activity Monitor on your Mac. You can find it in the /Applications/Utilities folder.
Note that if the app or process has files open, force quitting it may cause you to lose data. Also, bear in mind that if the process you force quit is used by other apps or processes, those apps or processes may experience issues.
For more on how to use Activity Monitor, check out our complete guide .
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How to Open and Use Activity Monitor (Mac Task Manager)
Every copy of macOS has the Activity Monitor app installed in it. Like the Task Manager in Windows, Activity Monitor lets you see everything that’s running on your Mac. This includes apps that you can open and quit as normal, but it also includes background processes, which you don’t normally see.
Many of these processes will be part of macOS itself, but you’ll also find background processes for your other Mac apps, including for your web browser, your antivirus and things like VPN clients.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to open Activity Monitor, before looking at some of the ways you can use it:
- Quit apps
- Inspect processes
- Run diagnostic reports
- Identify malware
- Save battery power
- Limit internet use
Before we start If you’re looking at Activity Monitor because your Mac is behaving strangely or running slowly, you can use MacKeeper to find out what’s wrong. It’ll scan for viruses, clean junk files, clear memory and more. Simply run a full scan to check for a variety of problems. Open MacKeeper, and select Find & Fix Click Start full scan Let MacKeeper complete the scan Carry out the recommended fixes Sounds good? Then give MacKeeper a try. You can download it and try each tool for free, so there’s really nothing to lose.
- How to start Activity Monitor
As with most Mac apps, there are a couple of ways to open Activity Monitor. Choose whichever method you find most convenient.
How to open Activity Monitor on your Mac:
- In Finder, navigate to Applications > Utilities . In that folder, you’ll find Activity Monitor . Double-click it to start it
- Alternatively, click the Spotlight in the top right of your Mac’s screen. It looks like a magnifying glass. Start typing ‘ activity monitor ’, and should come up. Press Enter to start Activity Monitor
- You can also bring up Spotlight by pressing Cmd + Spacebar . Then type in ‘ activity monitor ’ to load the app
- How to quit apps in Activity Monitor
The macOS Activity Monitor lets you quit out of apps running on your Mac, as well as background processes that you wouldn’t otherwise know about. This can be useful if your Mac is running slowly or an app is behaving oddly.
You can quit apps in Activity Monitor in a few easy steps:
1. Start Activity Monitor
2. Look through the list of processes, and select what you want to quit
3. Now click the X symbol
4. Select Quit or Force Quit
5. You can also quit an app by double-clicking it in the list, then clicking the Quit button
- How to inspect processes in Activity Monitor
Activity Monitor gives you all kinds of information about what’s running on your Mac. And you can focus on each process to get a summary of what it is and what it’s doing. If you’re having issues with your Mac running slowly or unpredictably, this information might help you to find the app or background process that’s causing the slowdown.
Here’s how to inspect a process on Mac:
1. In Activity Monitor, find a process in the list, and double-click it
2. This will open a new window with a few tabs. In the Memory tab, you’ll be able to see how much RAM the process is using
3. Click Statistics to see a range of technical information, including the number of threads a process is using
4. The Open Files and Ports tab shows exactly what the name says. You can see exactly which files an is using at any given time
5. If you click next to Parent Process , it will open up another window, with details about that process
- How to run diagnostic reports in Activity Monitor
You can create a variety of diagnostic reports in Activity Monitor. You can sample a process for three seconds to see what it’s doing when it runs. You can also create a spindump, which looks at unresponsive apps that were force quit. You can create a System Diagnostics report. And you can create a Spotlight Diagnostic report, based on all the processes running on your Mac. All of these create technical reports, which you can send to Apple Support if you have a problem.
Here’s how to run these reports in Activity Monitor:
1. In Activity Monitor, click the icon with three dots
2. Select Sample Process, Spindump, System Diagnostics, Spotlight Diagnostics
3. With some of these, you may need to enter your Mac password. If so, enter it, and let the report build
4. At the end, you’ll have a file you can send to Apple Support
- How to deal with malware using Activity Monitor
If you’re unfortunate enough to find your Mac infected with malware, you can often use Activity Monitor to find and stop it. It’s a good idea to do a web search for anything that you’re unsure about, so you don’t stop a process that your Mac actually needs to run.
This is how you can use Activity Monitor to find and shut down malware:
1. Open Activity Monitor. In the CPU tab, click the % CPU column to sort processes by how much of your Mac’s processor they’re using
2. Get the most demanding processes at the top, and look for anything you don’t recognize
3. Select anything suspicious, and click the X icon at the top of Activity Monitor
4. Click Quit or Force Quit
Relevant reading: How to Check for Malware on Mac
- How to save MacBook battery power with Activity Monitor
When apps and other processes use a lot of processing power, they don’t only slow your Mac down; they use more energy too. If you’re using a Macbook on its battery, that could limit how long you’re able to work away from an electricity outlet. Thankfully, you can use Activity Monitor to save some energy on your Mac .
Use these steps to check for energy use in Activity Monitor:
1. Open Activity Monitor, and go into the Energy tab
2. Look at the Energy Impact tab to see how much power each app is using
3. Use the 12 hr Power tab to see how much energy processes have used in the past 12 hours
4. Quit apps that are using a lot of energy
- How to use Activity Monitor to limit internet use
Although most modern internet connections don’t limit how much you can download in a month, there are still good reasons to limit network activity on your Mac. If something keeps downloading files in the background, it could slow down your connection when browsing the web. And if you’re on the move and tethering to your phone, you probably do still have a download limit.
You can easily use Activity Monitor to check what’s being downloaded and uploaded by your Mac:
1. Open Activity Monitor, and select the Network tab
2. Click the top of the Sent Bytes column to sort highest to lowest. Note any large and unexpected figure
3. Do the same with the Rcvd Bytes column
4. Quit any apps that are using a lot of bandwidth
5. If you don’t recognize anything, search for its name on the web to find out if it’s malware. Also, run an antivirus scan
Are there any other use cases for Activity Monitor that might be interesting for a wide audience? If so, link out to guides here (no need to explain them here).
- Other handy ways to use Activity Monitor
These are the main ways to use Activity Monitor on your Mac, but there are other things you can do with it. You can use it to see real-time CPU, network and disk information in your Dock , for example. And if you think might need more RAM, you can track memory usage too, particularly with the help of the memory pressure chart . (Note, you can’t change the RAM in all Macs.)
- A word of caution
Most of the time, if you want to quit or force quit an app, press Cmd + Opt + Esc to open the Force Quit Applications tool. This doesn’t include background processes, so there’s no chance of you stopping something your Mac relies on. If you do need to use Activity Monitor, be careful about quitting things you don’t recognise. Check online first, because a lot of the processes you see in Activity Monitor are part of macOS.
With a bit of care, though, Activity Monitor is a great way to take control of what’s running on your Mac. Just follow the tips in this guide, and you should be okay.
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With over 5 years of supporting Mac users, Ruslana lives and breathes everything Mac. Tech expert, Apple lover, and well, a cutie. Say hi on LinkedIn!
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Control Alt Delete on a Mac - How to Open Task Manager on your Macbook ; force-quit-keystrokes ; force-quit Command+Option+ESC brings you here.
The Mac Task Manager is a mini-version of the Activity Monitor. To open it, simultaneously press down the [CMD] + [ALT] + [ESC] keys on your
How to open Task Manager on Mac? · Press Command + Space to open Spotlight · Start typing Activity Monitor · Once Activity Monitor comes up
The Mac Task Manager is a mini-version of the Activity Monitor. To open it, simultaneously press down the [CMD] + [ALT] + [ESC] keys on your keyboard.
If you're a veteran of Windows, you're probably familiar with using Task Manager to deal with applications that freeze or checking memory
If you're coming Windows, then you're probably used to the task manager and could be wondering where the task manager for mac is.
Some macOS versions also have a keyboard shortcut to open task manager in Mac. All you got to do is press Command + Option + Shift + Esc keys at the same time.
Where is Task Manager on a Mac?
'Task Manager' on Mac: How to Find and Use the Activity Monitor · Launch the Activity Monitor on your Mac. · Under the Process Name list, select
Every copy of macOS has the Activity Monitor app installed in it. Like the Task Manager in Windows, Activity Monitor lets you see everything