Force restarting a MacBookMacBook Air, or MacBook Pro is generally considered a last resort, but if the worst happens and your machine freezes up, it’s the quickest way of getting things running again.

Before taking this extreme option though, it’s worth making sure that you’ve exhausted all potential software solutions.

  • If it’s just an application that’s frozen rather than the operating system, hold down the Option (⌥) key then right-click the offending app’s icon in the Dock and select Force Quit.
  • If the OS is frozen but the mouse cursor still responds, click the Apple () symbol in the upper left corner of the screen and select Restart. Otherwise, try holding down the Control (Ctrl) key and pressing the power button. If the system shutdown dialog appears, select Restart from the available options.

On MacBooks with physical function (F1–F12) keys, the power button is the key in the upper right corner of the keyboard (if it’s an older Mac with an optical drive, this is also the Eject button).

Touch ID button on a 2018 MacBook Air

On a 2018 MacBook Air, the power button is the Touch ID button in the top-right corner of the keyboard, and on a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, it’s the Touch ID surface on the rightmost side of the Touch Bar.

How to Force Restart Your Mac

  • Press and hold down the Command (⌘) and Control (Ctrl) keys along with the power button (or the Touch ID / Eject button, depending on the Mac model) until the screen goes blank and the machine restarts.

If your MacBook repeatedly freezes and you’re unsure what’s causing the problem, consider restarting your Mac in Apple Diagnostics mode to check if it’s a hardware issue.