How to Kill an Unresponsive Process

You run Windows. Any Windows, really, from NT to Windows 7 64-bit. And so you know that if a previously running process, which had heretofore been nicely and happily crunching away at its binary computations, suddenly becomes…well, unresponsive , an easy way to terminate the "stuck" process is to open the Task Manager, either by the tried and true "three fingered salute" method of CTRL + ALT + DEL and then choosing Start Task Manager , or opening the Task Manager directly by the key combination CTRL + SHIFT + ESC. From there, you can navigate to the offending process under the Processes tab, right mouse click it, and choose End Task – or just click on it and hit Delete. Normally, that’s enough. The task closes, your processor stops trying to wheedle into playing nice with others, and thus is freed to devote more clock cycles to programs that actually want to run.

All is well with the world.

However – and I’m sure this has happened to you at some point – what happens when the process just…won’t… die ? Right mouse clicking it, hitting delete, begging, threatening…nothing seems to work. Your only choice, if you want your system back to normal, is to try to save what you can and reboot the entire computer.


Well, as it so happens, there is another way.

First, open a command prompt (in Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, this is done by typing CMD in the Run or Start menu), and opening it with administrative privileges . To do that , right mouse click on the Command Prompt program icon and choose Run As Administrator .

Once the Command Prompt is open, you can get a list of all running processes by typing TASKLIST .

Find the process you need to terminate in the list, and then type its executable file name into the following command line:

TASKKILL /IM {whichever process name.exe} /F

Viola! In all but the most intractable of cases, your problem is now resolved. The task terminates, your processor heaves a huge sigh of relief, and onward you go – all without having to reboot the computer.

If you would like to learn more about the TASKKILL command, you can find that information here .

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