The occasional unresponsive application has become such a part of 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 program.
Here are the different ways you can go about force quitting a stuck program (the equivalent of pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete in Windows), in increasing order of desperation:
Force quit the usual way. Choose →Force Quit to terminate the stuck program, or use one of the other force-quit methods described on Force Quitting Programs.
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 shows everything 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 kill command in Terminal.)
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 ...