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How to Quit a Frozen Program
Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable

Blind panic has set in as the program you're using refuses to quit. This article shows how on nearly every occasion, all you need do is press three keys on your keyboard to solve the problem.

Force Quit

To stop a program that is running that does not respond to any keyboard command you'll need to force the program to quit (known as 'Force Quit'). Here's how:

1. If possible, save, and close any open files and/or programs on your system in the usual way leaving only the 'problem program'. This will help reduce the possibility of data loss.

2. Press the 'Ctrl', 'Alt', and 'Delete' keys on your computer at the same time.

3. The Windows Task Manager will now open and show you all the currently running programs on your system:

4. Select the program you wish to stop running and click 'End Task'.

5. Now click the close button 'X' on the top right of the Windows Task Manager window.

Important Note: force quitting a program will result in the loss of any files that are open and associated with that program.

'But my Task Manager is not available'

In rare circumstances the Task Manager might not be available. This may be because at some time or another the Task Manager was inadvertently removed from your system. The more likely cause however is that a worm, virus, or other security threat has managed to compromise your windows environment. Your first action in this circumstance should be to double check whether the Task Manager exists on your system. Here's how:

Go to 'Start' > 'Search', and select 'all files & folders' for 'taskmgr.exe'. This file should be located on your C drive in the Windows > System32 folder.

If the Task Manager is not there, carry out a full security scan of your system. You might also wish to carry out a System Restore which will restore your computer settings to an earlier date without deleting any of your files. You'll find the System Restore at:

'Start' > 'All Programs' > 'Accessories' > 'System Tools' > 'System Restore'

If it appears your system has not been attacked by a virus or some similar threat, you'll be able to easily restore the Task Manager from your XP installation disk.

1. Put the Windows XP CD into your CD-ROM. If you have Auto play enabled, the Welcome screen will appear. Close this window.

2. Click Start > Run then type 'cmd' to get a System 32 command prompt.

3. Type in the drive letter of your CD-ROM, followed by a colon and hit 'Enter' (for example: D:

You can find out what the drive letter of your CD-ROM is by opening the Windows Explorer: right click 'Start', and select 'Explore' from the menu.

4. At the D prompt, type in 'cd \i386', then click 'Enter'.

5. Now type 'expand taskmgr.ex_ %SystemRoot%\SYSTEM32\taskmgr.exe' making sure that you enter a space between 'ex_' and '%System...'. Click 'Enter'.

The file should extract and install the Task Manager into the correct folder.

Confirm this by typing Control+Alt+Delete. The Task Manager should appear.


The Task Manager is a fast and effective way of getting you out of a sticky situation. When used with care, this great Windows utility should save you many hours of frustration and worry.

Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author.

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