October 19, 2021

How to perform classic “Control Alt Delete” on a Mac


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Ctrl + Alt + Del command is known as the security key and often referred to as the “three-finger salute.” This command is run over the IBM-based computers. The purpose is to quit any application. The action is completed by pressing the Delete key and holding the Alt and Control key simultaneously. 

The credit goes to David Bradley to create this shortcut command. Bradley is the chief engineer of the IBM PC project as well as the developer of the BIOS-ROM machine. He initially created the Ctrl + Alt + Esc command. The demerit of the command was that it was easy to jump to the left side of the keyboard.

Additionally, this command could cause the computer to get reboot accidentally. Later on, after many suggestions, the final command set to quit any application was the Ctrl + Alt + Del one. The bigger satisfaction with this command is that these keys cannot be pressed with one hand as per IBM- based keyboards.

An interesting fact about the Ctrl + Alt + Del command was that it was created for the developing purpose only. The intention was to use it for programming and developing and this command will not be revealed to the end-user. Later, this command was mentioned in the official documents revealed by the company and got available to the computer users publically.

How to perform Ctrl + Alt + Del action on Mac?

Many operating systems do not receive the commands created for the IBM-based computers. macOS is one of those systems that cannot operate this command. This keyboard shortcut is not available for Mac computers rather there are alternate ways to quit any application or clear the desktop. Have a look at some of them:

Option 1: Command + Option (Alt) + Escape or Force Quit command

Command + Option (Alt) + Escape command available on the Mac is the proximal one to the Ctrl + Alt + Del. Pressing Command + Option (Alt) + Escape key displays the window showing all running applications on the desktop of the Mac. When any application got stuck, the user often opens this window to notice the current status of the app.  

You can quit the stuck application or any desired running application by following three simple steps:

  1. Press Command + Option (Alt) + Escape keys simultaneously.
  2. Choose the application you desire to close.
  3. Press the force quit button to process the command.

Option 2: Apple Menu    

Mac includes some other shortcuts to force quit the command. Like, through the Apple menu, you can access the force quit box. It will help to close the running apps or to check the status of applications.

Option 3: Press Right-click

Pressing the Right-click or control-click on the hung application in the Doc, a menu bar will get appeared relevant to the force quitting. Another way to get the application close, press the right click with the Option (Alt) key. It will show you the dialogue box of force quit.

Other ways to control or avoid the hanging apps

Command + Option (Alt) + Escape command is used to avoid the hanging app or close the unnecessary app. Various ways will help you to prevent hanging applications. What are the ways to cope up with the hanging and freezing apps? Here are some simple ways to prevent freezing in Mac:

  • When any application freezes on Mac, you should simply restart instantly. Restarting any device helps to cope up with memory leakages, crashes, and hangs.  You can run the restart command on other devices like mobile phones and Tabs to resolve the issues. For restarting your Mac, you need to go to the Apple Menu and click on the restart option. When the confirmation message appears, click on the restart to precede the command.
  • It often happens that an application does not function properly due to missing updates. When an app starts hanging, launch its updates from the Apple store. It will help to resolve the hanging issue or other performance issues in the app working.
  • If some of the apps are still hanging after updates, check out the compatibility. You need to check out either Mac apps have compatibility with the mac operating system or not. Most of the app developers list out the compatibility on the website. You need to check out either the downloaded app is supported by the version of the operating system your device has been using or not.
  • Remove the preference file from the device. Preference files contain the name, developer’s information, and other essential parameters of the app. When preference fil faces any issue, the app starts hanging or gets crashed. By deleting the preference file hanging issue can be resolved.

What to do if the Apple menu is also frozen?

What will be the fate of the Mac, if the Apple menu is hanged? In this situation, You need to restart the mac forcefully by following the given options:

  • Press the Control + Cmd at once, it will help to disappear the desktop and restart the device.
  • Another way to restart is to press and hold the power button for 10 seconds. It will enable force restarting.


On the whole, Ctrl + Alt + Del command is used to close any application or file immediately. And sometimes, when an app starts misbehaving, the user needs to get it close immediately to work smoothly on the PC.

Ctrl + Alt + Del command is a universal command with multiple functionalities. It is a famous command to quit the application forcefully. However, macOS works with an alternative command. But what to do when the windows system gets irresponsive to this command as well. In such a case, the windows often require updates. Or when your operating system shows a dialogue box with faults, your window needs to repair. The users often prefer to reinstall the window.