What to do when an Application Freezes

You are diligently working on a business project on your computer, then suddenly the application you are using freezes. Soon your frustration skyrockets while your productivity plummets as you try anything you can think of to resolve the problem. Sound familiar?

Here is how you can quickly get back to work when an application running on a Windows desktop or laptop computer freezes:

  1. Wait a few minutes. Sometimes an application appears to be frozen, but it is just running slow or is busy performing a complex task. If the program does not respond after a short wait, go to step 2.
  2. Try to close the program by pressing Alt+F4. In other words, press the Alt and F4 keys at the same time. Pressing Alt+F4 should close the current window (in this case, the frozen application), but if it does not, go to step 3.
  3. Open Windows Task Manager. You can open it directly by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc. If you cannot remember that keyboard shortcut, you can open it the more traditional way by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del and selecting the "Start Task Manager" option. Go to step 4 if Task Manager opens. Otherwise, skip to step 5.
  4. On the Applications tab, highlight the program that is not responding and choose "End Task". It can take up to 20 seconds for the program to end. If the program ends, close Task Manager. If the program does not end, go to step 5.
  5. Shut down the computer. Try using the Windows "Shut down" option first. If you are unable to access that option or it does not work, press and hold down the power button until the computer turns off.
  6. Turn on the computer by pressing the power button. If you are asked whether you want to start the computer in "Safe Mode" or if you want to "Start Windows Normally", choose the latter to see if Windows starts up correctly. The process might take longer if you shut down the computer using the power button since Windows runs additional diagnostic tests after a forced shutdown.
  7. If the computer starts up normally, you are good to go. If not, you will need to start it in safe mode, in which case, you might want to enlist the help of your IT service provider.

Having an application freeze occasionally is common and not cause for concern. However, if an application constantly freezes, you might want have your IT service provider diagnose and fix the root cause of the problem.

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