When you’re working on an important document or trying to multitask with several programs open at once when suddenly one or more applications freeze up. The program stops responding to inputs, the window grays out, and a dialog pops up saying “[Program] is not responding”.

Use task manager

The Task Manager is the most direct way to close unresponsive desktop programs. Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete on your keyboard to open the Windows Task Manager. Expand the window by clicking on “More details” if necessary. Then go to the “Processes” tab. Here you’ll see a list of all the currently running programs and background processes on your PC. Scroll down and locate the application that has stopped responding. Right-click on it, then select “End task” to force it to close. It abruptly terminates the process and closes the frozen window.

End process tree 

Sometimes closing the main process for a program isn’t enough. Some apps have multiple associated background processes and ending just one won’t completely shut it down. Go to the Processes tab in Task Manager, right-click the application, and choose “Go to details”. This brings up a new window with that program’s services and child processes. Select them all, then click “End process tree”. This will terminate the entire group, closing stubborn programs that won’t quit with the basic end task function.

Use command prompt 

The Command Prompt offers an alternative way to force close applications without opening the Task Manager. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialog box. Launch the Command Prompt by typing “cmd” and hitting Enter. Then type “taskkill /f /im ” (include the quotation marks but leave a space after im). Now copy and paste the full filename of the process you want to end after the /im (for example, taskkill /f /im “outlook.exe”). Pressing Enter will result in the application closing.

Restart the computer 

If all else fails, a computer restart will force all running programs and processes to close. Make sure your work is saved before resorting to a restart. Press the Ctrl+Alt+Delete keys and select “Restart” to reboot your PC. It ends any frozen or stubborn programs. Just be aware restarting results in the loss of any unsaved work, so save often as you’re working to avoid data loss from unresponsive programs.

Update graphics drivers 

Sometimes applications freeze because of outdated, corrupt, or incompatible drivers on your computer. Graphics drivers in particular cause conflicts and crashes for games, multimedia editing programs, and design software. Ensure that you have installed the most up-to-date graphics drivers for your GPU. Check the manufacturer’s website and download any available updates. Also, try uninstalling and then reinstalling the graphics driver as a troubleshooting step.

Check for malware infections  

Viruses, spyware, Trojans, and other malware infections negatively impact your system performance and cause freezes or slow response times. Run a full system scan using reliable antivirus software to check for and remove malicious programs. Also, scan with malware removal tools like Malwarebytes to clear stubborner infections. Keep your antivirus software up to date and run periodic scans to prevent malware-related freezing issues. Windows Guided offers these concerns to address.

Disable background programs

Too many applications and background processes running at once overload your system resources, resulting in hangs and unresponsiveness. Disable or close any non-essential apps before running more demanding software projects. In particular, disable background utilities that run on startup through the Task Manager Startup tab or your operating system Startup folder. Reducing the load on your PC prevents performance issues when multitasking.

Add more RAM

Insufficient RAM is a common cause of freezing and crashes in large programs or when running multiple apps simultaneously. Check your computer memory resources using Task Manager or a utility like CPU-Z. If you consistently see high RAM usage of 80% or more, consider upgrading to more memory. Adding more gigabytes of RAM will allow your computer to handle running multiple big applications smoothly.