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Archived - Mac OS X 10.4 or earlier: Computer stops responding

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

Symptoms

Learn how to get out of situations in which your computer may stop responding ("hang" or "freeze"). Troubleshooting beyond what is described in this article may be necessary to address any recurring issue.

Important:

Unsaved changes in your open applications will be lost. These steps apply to Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server. "Unresponsiveness" is often indicated by a spinning disc pointer and/or slow response time to input (or no response at all).

Resolution

1. Quit open applications

If your computer stops responding, you can sometimes recover by quitting open applications. You can quit almost any application by choosing Quit from the File menu or pressing Command-Q.

The Classic environment may also be the source of unresponsiveness on a PowerPC-based Mac. To determine if the Classic environment is running, open System Preferences, and choose Classic from the View menu. Click the Start/Stop tab, and note the status of the Classic environment, which appears above the "Select a startup volume for Classic" section. To stop the Classic environment, click Stop.

2. Force an Application to Quit

If you cannot quit an application in the normal way, try forcing the program to quit by choosing Force Quit from the Apple menu. In the dialog box that appears, select the unresponsive application and click Force Quit.

To Force Quit the Classic environment, open the System Preferences application and choose Classic from the View menu. Click the Start/Stop tab, then click Force Quit.

Warning: Unsaved changes in your current documents will be lost.

3. Restart the computer

Often you can eliminate an issue simply by restarting your computer, which clears its memory. Before you restart, make sure you save any open documents. Always try restarting the proper way:

  • Choose Restart from the Apple menu, or
  • On some computers, you may press the Power button on the keyboard, then click Restart in the dialog box that appears. If your computer has an Apple Pro Keyboard, press Control-Eject, then click Restart in the dialog box that appears.


4. Shut down the computer

As when restarting your computer, you may eliminate an issue simply by restarting your computer, which clears its memory. Before you restart, make sure you save any open documents. Always try shutting down your computer the proper way:

 

  • Choose Shut Down from the Apple menu, or
  • On some computers, you may press the Power button on the keyboard, then click Shut Down in the dialog box that appears. If your computer has an Apple Pro Keyboard, press Control-Eject, then click Shut Down in the dialog box that appears.


5. Force your computer to shut down

You should only try to force your computer to shut down if all of the previous steps (1 through 4) have failed.

 

    1. Press the power button on the computer for six seconds to shut down the computer.

    Note: Do not press the power button on your display.

    2. Wait 10 seconds, and then turn on the computer.


Note:

This technique does not work on some earlier Mac OS X-compatible computers. On these computers, shut down the computer by pressing the reset button (see below) immediately followed by the power button.



6. Force your computer to restart

You should only try to force your computer to restart if all of the previous steps (1 through 5) have failed. Forcing your computer to restart is not the preferred resolution when your computer stops responding.

 

If you are unable to restart your computer in the normal way, try the following:

 

  • Press Command-Control-Power. This option is not available if your computer has an Apple Pro Keyboard.

 

If that does not work, do one of the following:

 

  • If your computer has a Reset button hole, carefully insert the end of a straightened paper clip into hole and push gently. Remove the paper clip. Your computer should restart. For the location of the Reset hole, see the documentation that came with your computer.
  • If your computer has a Reset button, press it. The reset button is on the computer itself, not the keyboard, and is labeled with a triangle. For the location of the Reset button, see the documentation that came with your computer.


Note:

Some PowerBook computers do not have a Reset button. In that case, press the Shift-Function-Control-Power until the computer turns off. Then, wait at least 30 seconds, and then turn your PowerBook on again by pressing the Power button.



7. Unplug the computer

If resetting does not work and your computer is plugged in to a power strip that has an on/off switch, turn the switch off. If there is no switch, unplug your computer. Wait at least 30 seconds before turning your computer back on again. Turn your computer on again by pressing the Power button on the keyboard or on the computer.

 

  Related documents
  25643 Mac OS X 10.1 or later: Classic - Item in Mac OS 9 Shutdown Items Folder Prevents Shut Down, Restart, or Logout

 

Additional Information

Article Change History:28-Apr-2005: Updated for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

Last Modified: Nov 22, 2011
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  • Last Modified: Nov 22, 2011
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