How to Unfreeze a Frozen Computer in Windows 10

By Andy Rathbone

Every once in a while, Windows 10 just drops the ball and wanders off somewhere to sit under a tree. You’re left looking at a computer that just looks back. None of the computer’s lights blink. Panicked clicks don’t do anything. Pressing every key on the keyboard doesn’t do anything, or worse yet, the computer starts to beep at every key press.

When nothing onscreen moves (except sometimes the mouse pointer), the computer is frozen up solid. Try the following approaches, in the following order, to correct the problem:

  • Approach 1: Press Esc twice.

    This action rarely works, but give it a shot anyway.

  • Approach 2: Press the Ctrl, Alt, and Delete keys simultaneously and choose Start Task Manager from the menu that appears.

    If you’re lucky, the Task Manager appears with the message that it discovered an unresponsive application. The Task Manager lists the names of currently running programs, including the one that’s not responding. On the Processes tab, click the name of the program that’s causing the mess and then click the End Task button. You lose any unsaved work in that program, of course, but you should be used to that. (If you somehow stumbled onto the Ctrl+Alt+Delete combination by accident, press Esc to quit Task Manager and return to Windows.)

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    If that still doesn’t do the trick, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete again and click the Power icon (shown here) in the screen’s bottom-right corner. Choose Restart from the pop-up menu, and your computer shuts down and restarts, hopefully returning in a better mood.

  • Approach 3: If the preceding approaches don’t work, turn off the computer by pressing its power button. (If that merely brings up the Turn Off the Computer menu, choose Restart, and your computer should restart.)

  • Approach 4: If you keep holding down your computer’s power button long enough (usually about 4 to 5 seconds), it eventually stops resisting and turns off.