Fixing a Frozen Apple Mac – Troubleshoot and Unfreeze

Having a frozen Apple Mac can be frustrating. In this article, we will explore troubleshooting steps to unfreeze your Mac and get it back up and running smoothly.

Force Quit Unresponsive Apps

1. Press and hold the Command + Option + Escape keys simultaneously to bring up the Force Quit Applications window.

2. In the Force Quit Applications window, you’ll see a list of currently running apps. Select the app that is unresponsive and click on the “Force Quit” button.

3. If the app is not listed or the Force Quit option doesn’t work, try using the Activity Monitor. Open the Finder, go to Applications > Utilities, and launch Activity Monitor.

4. In the Activity Monitor, you’ll see a list of processes and applications. Locate the unresponsive app, select it, and click on the “X” button on the toolbar.

5. A confirmation dialog will appear, asking if you want to quit the app. Click on the “Force Quit” button to terminate the app.

6. If the app is still frozen or unresponsive, you can try restarting your Mac. Click on the Apple menu in the menu bar, select “Restart,” and confirm the restart.

Restart Your Device

Apple logo

To restart your frozen Apple Mac, follow these steps:

1. Press and hold the power button on your Mac for about 10 seconds until it shuts down completely.
2. Once the device is off, wait for a few seconds and then press the power button again to turn it back on.
3. If the issue persists, try a forced restart by pressing and holding the Control and Command keys, along with the power button.
4. Release all the keys when you see the Apple logo or a progress indicator.
5. If your Mac still won’t unfreeze, you can try booting it in Safe Mode. To do this, restart your Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key until you see the login window.
6. In Safe Mode, you can troubleshoot any software issues that may be causing the freeze.
7. If the freezing issue persists even in Safe Mode, it might be helpful to reset the System Management Controller (SMC).
8. To reset the SMC, shut down your Mac and then press and hold the Control, Option, and Shift keys, along with the power button, for about 10 seconds. Release all the keys and then turn on your Mac normally.

Boot in Safe Mode

To boot your Apple Mac in Safe Mode, follow these steps:

1. Start by shutting down your Mac completely.
2. Press the power button to turn on your Mac.
3. Immediately press and hold the Shift key on your computer keyboard.
4. Keep holding the Shift key until you see the Apple logo or a progress bar.
5. Once you see the login screen, you can release the Shift key.
6. You are now in Safe Mode, indicated by the words “Safe Boot” in the top-right corner of the menu bar.

In Safe Mode, your Mac will only load essential system files and disable unnecessary software and drivers. This can help troubleshoot and unfreeze your Mac if you’re experiencing issues.

While in Safe Mode, you can perform various tasks to fix the frozen Mac, such as:

– Running a malware scan using trusted security software.
– Repairing disk permissions using Disk Utility.
– Deleting temporary files and caches using applications like CleanMyMac X.
– Troubleshooting software conflicts by uninstalling recently installed apps.
– Resetting NVRAM (non-volatile random-access memory) or PRAM (parameter random-access memory).
– Updating or reinstalling problematic software or drivers.

Once you’ve completed the necessary troubleshooting steps in Safe Mode, you can restart your Mac to exit Safe Mode. Simply go to the Apple menu and choose “Restart” or press the power button and select “Restart” from the context menu.

Check and Repair Disk Health

Disk health check symbol

Step Description
1 Restart your Mac by holding down the power button.
2 Press and hold the Command + R keys immediately upon hearing the startup chime.
3 Release the keys when you see the Apple logo or a spinning globe.
4 Click on “Disk Utility” and then click “Continue”.
5 Select your Macintosh HD or startup disk from the list on the left.
6 Click on the “First Aid” button in the toolbar.
7 Click “Run” to start the disk repair process.
8 Wait for the repair process to complete.
9 If any errors are found and repaired, restart your Mac normally.
10 If the issue persists, consider seeking professional assistance.

Reset System Management Controls

1. Press and hold the power button on your Mac for about 10 seconds until it shuts down completely.
2. Disconnect all external peripherals such as printers, game controllers, and USB devices.
3. Wait for a few seconds and then press the power button again to turn on your Mac.
4. Immediately hold down the Option key on your keyboard as soon as you hear the startup chime.
5. Keep holding the Option key until you see the Startup Manager window.
6. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to select your startup disk, then press the Return key to start up your Mac from that disk.
7. If your Mac successfully boots up, go to the Apple menu and select Restart to exit the Startup Manager.
8. Reconnect your peripherals one at a time to see if any of them were causing the freeze.
9. If the freeze persists, try resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) by following the instructions for your specific Mac model on Apple’s support website.
10. If all else fails, consider using software like CleanMyMac X to clean up your Mac and optimize its performance.


Why is my Mac frozen and won’t turn off?

Your Mac may be frozen and won’t turn off because there could be apps that failed to close, possibly due to unsaved documents, crashes, or freezes.

How do you restart an unresponsive Mac?

To restart an unresponsive Mac, you can press and hold the power button until it shuts off. Then, press the power button again to start it up. Keep in mind that any unsaved changes in open documents may be lost.

Why is my Mac not responding?

Your Mac may not be responding due to various reasons, such as insufficient memory or disk space. To resolve the issue, try force restarting your Mac by holding down the power button until the screen turns off. Afterwards, you may need to free up space on your hard drive by uninstalling apps or programs and deleting files.

How do you unfreeze a Mac?

To unfreeze a Mac, you can start by force quitting the frozen or unresponsive app. If there are too many apps running, quit all of them. Restarting the Mac can also help resolve the issue. If certain apps remain unresponsive, you can uninstall or reset them. Additionally, stopping demanding processes, freeing up disk space, and cleaning the desktop can improve performance. Lastly, you can try repairing the disk using Disk Utility.

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