Mac App Frozen? Here is How to Handle Freezing Mac Apps

macOS has always been known for its stability and high level of security thanks to its unified ecosystem. Most of the time, your MacBook will work seamlessly without any hiccups. However, it’s also not rare to see some apps completely freeze and stop responding to your actions. There can be many reasons that lead to this issue. It can be a software conflict, a bug in the app’s system, it’s overloaded, the app is running on beta system software, or for no apparent reason at all. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get the app to function properly again. Here are some tips to help you handle freezing Mac apps.

Quit/Force Quit the App

It’s quite frustrating when an app freezes right in the middle of work. After a few seconds of this, your mouse pointer turns into a spinning beach ball. This cursor indicates that the app is no longer responding to your commands. This issue is usually caused by a low free RAM, high CPU usage, or a bug inside the app itself.

In most cases, the other apps on your mac will continue to work normally. The beachball pointer only appears when you are in the window of the problematic app. The first thing you should try to troubleshoot is to quit the apps you are not actively using to free up some valuable resources

Handle Freezing Mac Apps

To quit an app normally, choose Quit from the app’s menu in the menu bar. The shortcut Command + Q also works.

But when an app hangs and the regular Quit command doesn’t have any effect, you will have to force quit it instead. To do so:

  • Click on the Apple logo from the Menu bar
  • Choose Force Quit from the dropdown menu
  • This will open a window where you will able to select which application you need to force close
Handle Freezing Mac Apps

Alternatively, you can access the Force Quit windows by using the keyboard shortcut Option + Command + Esc.

These are the 2 simple ways to kill off an app. There are also some other methods to get this done as well, you can learn more about them in this official guide by Apple.

Relaunch The App

After you have successfully closed the app, you can try launching again to see if it works fine as it’s supposed to do. If it doesn’t work like expected, you might want to try quitting and relaunching it for 2 – 3 times. The app should be running normally at this point. But if the issue persists, there might be some software bugs, or the app itself needs to be updated.

Update the App

When you just updated your macOS to a new version If you just updated your macOS to a new version, there’s a big chance that some apps haven’t been updated for that macOS version. It’s also possible that your apps are not optimized to run properly on the new firmware or hardware (for example, an older app running on an M1 Mac). In such cases, you should check if there are any available updates for your app. 

For apps that you downloaded from the App Store, you can check their updates by:

  • Open App Store on your Mac from the Dock 
  • Click Updates on the left pane
  • From there, you will be able to see all the available app updates.
  • If there’s an update for the app you’re facing issues with, click Install to download it.
  • Launch the app to see if it’s working fine now.
Handle Freezing Mac Apps

For apps that you got directly from a third-developer site rather than the App Store, you will have to update them differently. Some apps may have built-in auto update functions while others will require you to visit their website to get the newest version. This is quite common with some apps from Google, Microsoft, Adobe, and smaller developers.

Restart Your Mac

Rebooting your Mac is a simple yet effective troubleshooting method when there’s a software-related issue. This simple procedure will kill off any running, background process, eliminate memory leaks, free up RAM and CPU, and reduce the number of virtual memory swap files from the hard disk. It also gives your computer a clean start again. As a result, there is a chance that restarting your Mac can handle the freezing apps issue.

To restart, open the Apple Menu and select Restart. When the confirmation pop-up alert appears, simply hit the Restart button.

If the Apple Menu won’t open or your Mac is frozen, you will need to force restart your Mac instead. To do so, press and hold Control + Command along the power button until the screen goes blank your computer reboot.

Check for MacOS System Software Updates

There’s also a chance that the freezing and crashing issues are not due to your apps, but the macOS itself. It is not rare to see some specific apps stop working normally when Apple introduces a new macOS update. The company also usually addresses the problems and releases new patches to fix them soon after that. 

So, you should check if there’s any  news system software updates on your macOS. What you need to do is simply open System Preferences>Software Updates. From there you will see if there’s any new firmware version that can fix your freezing apps.

Handle Freezing Mac Apps

Unenroll from Betas

If you’ve signed into a beta program for macOS, you should consider switching on to a stable public build instead. The beta system software is normally less stable than a final build, which may cause the apps running on it to freeze or crash.

To opt out the beta programs:

  • Open System Preferences
  • Select Software Update
  • Click the ‘Details…’ button below This Mac is enrolled in the Apple Beta Software Program.
  • A dialog will appear asking if you would like to restore your default update settings.
  • Choose Restore Defaults and your Mac will no longer receive public betas. 

Delete the Cache

All Mac applications use caches. The cache files contain frequently used information to help your apps run more efficiency. However, when an app’s cache file corrupted for some reason, it may crash or misbehave while reading that file. In that case, you should locate and send these cache files to Trash. The app will again regenerate its cache files automatically.

Most of the cache files are located in the following Library folders:

  • ~/Library/Caches or /Library/Caches
  • ~/Library/Containers/[App Name]/Data/Library/Caches/[App Name]
  • ~/Library/Saved Application State

Contact the App Developer

If all these methods could not help you to make a freezing app back to normal,  you might need to get in touch with the app’s developer. In the case that the problem only happens in a certain version of the app or the app you are using is incompatible with a current macOS version, then perhaps the developer needs to work on an update to make it operate properly.

There you go, now you have our tips on how to handle freezing Mac apps. We hope that our guide will help you resolve your issues. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments!

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