B.2. Frozen Programs (Force Quitting) The occasional unresponsive application has become such a part of Mac OS X life that, among the Mac cognoscenti online, the dreaded, endless "please wait" cursor has been given its own acronym: SBOD (Spinning Beachball of Death)
B.2. Frozen Programs (Force Quitting)
The occasional unresponsive application has become such a part of Mac OS X life that,
among the Mac cognoscenti online, the dreaded, endless "please wait" cursor has been
given its own acronym: SBOD (Spinning Beachball of Death). When the SBOD strikes,
no amount of mouse clicking and keyboard pounding will get you out of the recalcitrant
Here are the different ways you can go aboutforce quittinga stuck program (the
equivalent of pressing Control-Alt-Delete in Windows), in increasing order of
• Use the Dock. If you can't use the program's regular File Quit command, try
Control-clicking or right-clicking its Dock icon and choosing Quit from the popup
• Force quit the usual way. Choose Force Quit to terminate the stuck
program, or use one of the other force-quit methods described on Section 5.1.3.
• Force quit the sneaky way. Some programs, including the Dock, don't show up at
all in the usual Force Quit dialog box. Your next attempt, therefore, should be to
open the Activity Monitor program (in Applications Utilities), which
showseverything that's running. Double-click a program and then, in the resulting
dialog box, click Quit to force quit it. (Unix hounds: You can also use the
killcommand in Terminal, as described on Section 10.30.22.)
Fixing Permissions Problems
Sooner or later, when you try to move, rename, or delete a certain file or folder,
you may get an error message like "The folder 'Junk' could not be opened
because you do not have sufficient access privileges"—or "The operation could
not be completed because this item is owned by Chris" (or by root, which means
by Mac OS X itself).
What they're trying to say is, you've run into a permissions problem.
As noted in Chapter 12, Mac OS X is designed to accommodate a number of
different people who share the same Mac over time. Nobody is allowed to
meddle with other people's files or folders. But even if you're the solo operator
of your Mac, you still share it with Mac OS X itself (which the error messages
may refer to as root or system).
In any case, if you're confident that whatever you're trying to do isn't some kind
of nihilistic, self-destructive act like trashing the Applications folder, it's easy
enough to get past these limitations. Just highlight the recalcitrant file or folder
and then choose File Get Info. In its window, you'll find a Sharing &
Permissions panel that lets you give yourself Read & Write privileges—if you
have an Administrator account, that is. (Just don't perform this surgery on files
in the System folder.)
Now you can do whatever you like with this folder.
• Tip: If you find yourself having to quit the Dock more than once, here's an easier
way: Make yourself a little AppleScript (Chapter 7) consisting of a single line: tell
application "Dock" to quit. Save it as an application. Whenever you feel that the
Dock (or Spaces or Exposé, which technically belong to the Dock) needs a good
kick in the rear, double-click your little AppleScript.
• Force quit remotely. If the Finder itself has locked up, you can't very well get to
Activity Monitor (unless it occurred to you beforehand to stash its icon in your
Dock—not a bad idea). At this point, you may have to abort the locked program
from another computer across the network, if you're on one, by using theSSH
(secure shell) command. The end of Chapter 22 offers a blow-by-blow description
of how you might terminate a program by remote control in this way, either from
elsewhere on the office network or even from across the Internet.
Tip: If all of this seems like a lot to remember, you can always force restart the
Mac. On most Macs, you do that by holding down the power button for five
seconds. If that doesn't work, press Control- -power button.