Mac Is Not Responding? Five Ways to Stop It from Freezing

Mac freezes don’t happen very often, but in some scenarios where too many applications and background processes are running at the same time, the certain app is crashing, the hard drive space is being used up, the disk or RAM has some hardware problems, and the Mac is being attacked by malware, your Mac possibly becomes unresponsive, preventing you from doing anything like usual.

Most commonly, you will find that the apps get stuck in a loop or have no response with a spinning beach ball but you can still move your mouse curse. Or in a rare situation, your Mac becomes frozen completely with an unmovable mouse curse.  

Both cases indicate that your Mac freezes, making it impossible for you to continue your work. So, what can you do to unfreeze your Mac? Just relax and don’t be panicky. In this post, we will introduce some possible solutions to guide you on how to fix frozen Mac without losing work.

What to Do When Mac Freezes?

Method 1 Unfreeze Your Mac by Forcing Quit the Frozen Application

Sometimes, nothing is wrong with the whole macOS but the crashed app causes your Mac to be unresponsive. The good situation is that you can still work with the mouse and keyboard even though you fail to get a response from the single app by clicking its icon or menu. What you see is just the spinning beach ball display on the Mac screen. Under such a circumstance, the frozen Mac issue is specific to the single application you are running instead of your macOS. Thus, forcing quit the frozen program may take effect to unfreeze your Mac.

Step 1 Click the Apple icon from the top navigation bar and select Force Quit from the drop-down menu to open the Force Quit Applications window. If you prefer to use the hotkey, you can take the Command + Option + Escape combination key as an alternative to open this window.     

Step 2 Select the unresponsive program and click Force Quit situated in the lower-right corner of the Force Quit Applications window to close the frozen app.  


Method 2 Unfreeze Your Mac by Forcing Restart It 

If unluckily, you can’t succeed in forcing quit the frozen program, or what’s worse, you spot the whole Mac can’t respond to you anymore, you need to force reboot it.

  1. If you can’t move the cursor – Press the power button on the Mac keyboard for a few seconds to force shut down your frozen Mac. Wait a moment, and then restart the Mac by pressing the power button again.  
  2. If you can move the cursor – Go to the Apple icon > Restart to make your unresponsive Mac reboot.  
  3. If you can’t use your mouse – Press the Control + Option + Command keyboard shortcut together with the power button to shut your Mac down. After that, click the power button to turn your Mac back on. 

Method 3 Unfreeze Your Mac by Unplugging the External Devices

Is the frozen Mac problem still unresolved? Perhaps the external devices attached to your Mac machine go corrupt or are incompatible with your Mac computer, which leads to a frozen Mac. Try to unplug any peripherals connected to your Mac to check if your Mac returns to normal.


Method 4 Unfreeze Your Mac by Booting It to Safe Mode 

Safe Mode is a helpful diagnostic and troubleshooting mode designed to help Mac users troubleshoot issues with their Mac machines when their Macs become frozen, keep restarting, won’t turn on, are stuck on the login screen, or are running slowly due to outdated caches, a rogue application, or a misbehaving service. In addition, Safe Mode can help to deal with the frozen Mac problem. 

To boot an Intel-based Mac into Safe Mode, turn off your Mac first, and then reboot it while pressing and holding the Shift key at once until you see the login window appear on the screen. Next, login to your Mac (Here, you may be requested to perform two logins. And you should see Safe Boot in the menu bar on both login windows.).  


To boot an Apple Silicon M1 Mac into Safe Mode, shut down your M1 Mac first, wait a few seconds, and then press and hold the power button until you see the startup disks and Options on the Mac screen. Finally, press and hold the Shift key and tap Continue in Safe Mode

If the issue doesn’t continue in Safe Mode, just leave this mode and start up your Mac normally to check if this issue gets resolved.       

Method 5 Unfreeze Your Mac by Freeing up More Memory 

The insufficient storage space can result in a frozen Mac because the Mac memory has been worn out, so cache files generated by running system and programs can’t be stored, making your Mac machine freeze and give you no response. In this instance, you need to free up more memory by uninstalling apps and installers that are unused, deleting cache files and useless downloads, emptying Mac Trash, and more. 

By the way there might be times when your apple watch faces issues just like your mac, in “Fix Apple Watch stuck on Apple logo” you can fix this problem easily.

Wrapping It Up

The aforementioned solutions can be of help to you. However, your Mac is possibly in an unresponsive state and even won’t turn on influenced by some more complicated factors. Given this, try to use data recovery software like iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac to help you retrieve lost data from your unbootable Mac. 

Although you can try some feasible methods to fix frozen Mac, you should take some precautions to prevent the same situation from happening again, such as regularly freeing up your Mac storage space, checking for updates to macOS and apps, disabling plug-ins coming with some apps, and so forth. 

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