What to Do When an Application Stops Responding

By Faithe Wempen

When an application crashes in Windows, it stops responding to commands. There are a few things that you can do when an application no longer responds. Here are some clues that an application has crashed:

  • The menus and toolbars no longer respond.

  • A white haze appears over the entire application window.

  • A [Not Responding] indicator appears in the title bar.

  • The mouse pointer does not appear when it is over that window.

  • The window can’t be moved, resized, or minimized.

  • An error message box appears letting you know the program has stopped responding, asking whether you want to close the program or wait.

Sometimes you can wait out a crash, because it is not really a crash, but merely a temporary bog-down. Over time, you will learn which applications tend to bog down and say they have stopped responding, only to bounce back to life a minute later.

Assuming that waiting doesn’t solve the problem, you can terminate the application. If you get the error message offering to close the program, choosing to close it that way is an easy path. You can also right-click the unresponsive program on the taskbar and choose Close, and this will usually cause that error message box to appear with the offer to close it.

If you don’t get any prompt that offers to help you close the program, and it won’t close normally (for example, by clicking its Close button in its window), you can shut it down via Task Manager. To display Task Manager, right-click the taskbar and choose Task Manager.

Click the Processes tab. (If you don’t see any tabs, click More details.) Click the non-responsive program under the Apps heading, and click End task.

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The larger question, after you get the program shut down, is why did it crash in the first place? Try restarting your computer. If the problem reoccurs with the same application, check for updates for the application that might solve the problem. If the crashing is repeated, try uninstalling and reinstalling the application.