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How to force quit apps on a Chromebook

What is the Chromebook equivalent of Ctrl-Alt-Delete?

Sarah Tew/CNET

When things go sideways with Windows, there's Ctrl-Alt-Delete to get you to the Task Manager where you can investigate what's causing the problem and end any unresponsive apps. When something goes wrong on a Mac, there's Command-Option-Escape to call up the Force Quit Applications window. But when an app freezes or starts acting sluggish on a Chromebook, where do you turn? Is there a keyboard shortcut that can put an end to your troubles?

I have good news for Chromebook users. There is such a keyboard shortcut, and it's quite simple. When something is amiss on your Chromebook and you need to force quit an app, hit Shift-Escape. This keyboard shortcut calls up Chrome's Task Manager. Since Chrome apps are the only kinds of apps that a Chromebook runs, Chrome's Task Manager is the only task manager you need on a Chromebook. Just click on the app that's giving you problems and hit the End Process button.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

At the top of the Task Manager, you'll see Chrome listed. You can't select it and force quit it because Chrome OS isn't anything more than the Chrome browser with a bit of window dressing, which means that quitting Chrome would amount to shutting down your Chromebook. If you are experiencing an issue that force quitting an app can't solve, then shut down your Chromebook by clicking the system tray in the bottom-right corner of your display and then clicking the power button. Or if you're really stuck, hold down the power button for 3 seconds to power down your system.

For more tips, learn how to print from a Chromebook, run Windows programs on a Chromebook and the best way to use Dropbox on a Chromebook.