How to Force Close Apps Using a Desktop Shortcut

To forcibly close the program without a task manager, you can use the taskkill command. Typically, you enter this command at the command prompt to kill a specific process.

However, opening the command line window every time the program stops responding is awkward, and typing commands every time you want to kill the application is not efficient. Instead, you can use the shortcut that automatically closes any frozen applications to force-close the application window more easily.

Here’s how to create a shortcut to close the freeze process:

  1. Right-click an empty space on your desktop and choose New > Shortcut.
  2. You’ll be asked to enter a location for the shortcut. In that box, paste the following command:
    taskkill /f /fi "status eq not responding"

    This command is simple to understand when you break it down:

    • taskkill is the command to kill a process, which you should do when something is frozen.
    • /f tells the command to force-close the program. Without this, Windows just asks the process to terminate, which won’t work if it’s stuck.
    • /fi tells the command to run only on processes that meet the following filter criteria.
    • Finally, the text in quotes is the command criteria. You want it to only kill processes with a status equal to Not Responding.
  3. The shortcut creation box will then ask you to name your new shortcut. Call it anything you like, then press Finish.

Now you can force-close a program by double-clicking this shortcut at any time. This will kill any window that’s stuck.

How to Force Close a Program on Windows Without Task Manager

How to Force-Close Apps Using a Keyboard Shortcut

To make this force-close process even faster, you can make a custom keyboard shortcut to run the task killer command you just made. Here’s how:

  1. Right-click on your new shortcut and choose Properties.
  2. On the Shortcut tab, click in the Shortcut key box to set a custom keyboard shortcut. Windows will automatically add Ctrl + Alt to any letter you press, but you can change it to Ctrl + Shift if you like.
  3. Because this shortcut will momentarily launch a Command Prompt window, you should set Run to Minimized. Doing so means you won’t see a disrupting flash when you press the shortcut.
  4. Click OK to save changes.

Now, just use your chosen shortcut to close apps whenever they lock up.

How to Force Close a Program on Windows Without Task Manager

Alternative Methods to Force-Close in Windows

The above method is the easiest way to forcibly close the program, without the task manager, when they are locked. However, you may need to know other methods and tools to do this.

Try Closing With Alt + F4 First

The basic procedure for troubleshooting when the program freezes is to press Alt + F4. This is a Windows keyboard shortcut for closing the current window, which is equivalent to clicking the X icon in the upper-right corner of the window.

So you will not force close a program that is really stuck, but if the application is a bit troublesome you can give it a try. It is especially useful if your mouse stops responding for a while.

Force a Program to Close With SuperF4

SuperF4 is a simple program that allows you to force delete any window, even if it does not respond. Just like the taskkill command mentioned earlier, it will force programs to stop immediately instead of politely asking them to shut down.

Therefore, the program will not check before closing to make sure you have saved your work, so be careful when using this application. SuperF4 also allows you to move the cursor to any window you want to delete. By default, it uses the Ctrl + Alt + F4 key combination to close.

Force-Close Programs With a Task Manager Alternative

Technically speaking, another way to force a program to close without a task manager is to use an alternative to the task manager. For example, if you are looking for something more powerful, Process Explorer will definitely meet your needs.

If you are looking for a way to close the program because the task manager does not work, please check our guide on how to fix the “task manager has been disabled” error.

How to Force-Close Programs With AutoHotkey

You can also create a basic AutoHotkey script to force-close windows. You’ll need to download AutoHotkey, then create a script with this line:


Move the finished file into your Startup folder (enter shell:startup into the File Explorer address bar to get there) so it runs every time you log on. Then simply press Win + Alt + Q to kill the current window.

AutoHotkey is a powerful program that can accomplish almost anything you dream of, so if you want to set up a more advanced script, please check out our AutoHotkey Beginner’s Guide.

Other Third-Party Apps for Force-Closing Programs

If none of the above options work for you, you will find that other third-party tools can forcibly quit Windows programs. ProcessKO is a good choice for advanced users because it provides additional features, such as the ability to terminate a specific process after a set time interval. Most other options are very similar to the above options, so we recommend reviewing all options before looking for alternatives.

If you cannot close the program, your last resort is to restart your computer. If you cannot use Ctrl + Alt + Del to access the power menu, you must turn it off completely by pressing and holding the power button on your computer or unplugging/battery.

Force-Closing Windows Has Never Been Easier

Hope you don’t have to deal with frozen programs often. If you frequently encounter problems with specific software, it may be worth checking for updates or looking for alternatives. Just like Windows crashes, there is almost always a reason for program problems.

Nevertheless, occasional crashes are an unfortunate reality faced by all computer users. Now you know how to close blocked programs without opening the Task Manager, but don’t forget how useful this tool is!