How to Unfreeze a Mac

A frozen Mac is likely not a big problem

Whatever type of Mac you have, sometimes you can end up with your Mac not responding and freezing. It can be a big problem, but it can also be a straightforward thing to fix. Causes can include a problem with your system overheating or simply a problem with a particular app you're using. Whatever the reason, here's what to do when Mac freezes and how to get it working again. 

What Causes a Mac to Freeze?

Crying out, 'my Mac is frozen, and I can't click anything?' Don't worry. A frozen Mac can be a big problem, but it can also have a simple fix. It can be due to a malfunctioning program, an issue with macOS itself, or a hardware fault such as overheating or a problem with the system's RAM. 

You can fix many of these issues at home, but there are certain cases where your Mac needs to be professionally repaired by Apple or may even be beyond repair.

Before getting to that stage, it's a good idea to narrow down where the issue lies and try to troubleshoot the problem and fix it. 

Troubleshoot When a Mac Freezes

If your Mac has frozen, try these troubleshooting tips to get it back up and running:

There are many different reasons why your Mac may have frozen. If the step isn't relevant to what you're doing, skip it and move onto the next one. 

  1. Force quit the app. If you think an app you're using or running is causing your Mac to freeze, try force quitting the app using Command+Option+Escape to display the Force Quit Applications window. 

  2. Try force quitting an app via the Apple menu. Click the Apple icon on your laptop and scroll down to Force Quit to close the app. 

  3. Force quit the app via Activity Monitor. A more effective way of force quitting an app or errant process can be using Activity Monitor, which gives you access to everything that is currently running on your Mac. 

  4. Shut down the Mac. If you can't force quit the app and your Mac isn't responding, shut down the computer and restart it. You'll lose all unsaved work, but it can fix a lot of freezing issues.

  5. Unplug any peripherals attached to your Mac. Sometimes, a peripheral can be causing an issue with your Mac. Try unplugging it to see if it corrects the problem.

  6. Boot into Safe Mode. Try using your Mac's Safe Boot mode to check your computer is working correctly and check for any issues that may be occurring.

  7. Free up disc space. All computers can slow down substantially if they're low on disc space. Try removing unnecessary apps and documents to speed up your Mac and give your system a bit of breathing space. 

  8. Reset your Mac's PRAM or NVRAM. Resetting your Mac's PRAM or NVRAM can solve some basic hardware issues. 

  9. Repair permissions. If you're using a Mac running OS X Yosemite or earlier, you may need to repair permissions to ensure any application you have issues with runs correctly. If your system runs OS X El Capitan or newer, this isn't required as macOS automatically repairs any file permission issues.

  10. Reset your Mac. As a last resort solution, try resetting your Mac by wiping all the information off its hard drive and starting afresh. Make sure to have backups of all your important documents, so you don't lose anything valuable.

  11. Contact Apple customer support. If you continue to have issues with your Mac freezing, contact Apple customer support. If your Mac system is still under warranty, you may be able to get it repaired for free. Failing that, Apple customer support can still advise you on any other repair options and assist you further. 

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