Three fingers to terminate pesky programs

There are times when a program freezes, either on a Mac or a PC, when nothing seems to work and most people reach for the power button and push it for five or so seconds to turn off the computer (or they will pull the power cord, and the battery if the computer is a laptop.) There is another way, and it can also help you kill or terminate what might otherwise be those malicious and frustrating fake antivirus programs that are going around and “attacking” Windows computers in the past few months.

“Control-Alt-Delete” is the secret in Windows to bring up the Windows Task Manager in Windows XP or a list in Windows Vista or 7 from which you can click on Start Task Manager.  Press those three keys at the same time and then release to start this process. When Task Manager opens, click on the Applications tab and there you should see a list of running programs, some which might have Not Responding in the Status column. To stop a program, click on its name and then look for and click on the End Task button in the lower right corner of the screen.

What makes this a great security tool is that whenever you have something pop open on your computer, for example one of those fake antivirus programs that increasingly come through Web searches, you can end them without clicking on what is the fake X close button in the upper right corner. Just get used to opening the Windows Task Manager before you really need it.

“Command-Option-Escape” is the secret in OS X land. Although fake antivirus programs don’t yet bother the Mac, there still are times when the spinning beach ball indicates a frozen program and pressing those three keys at the same time will open a Force Quit Applications window. Click to select the program or application that is not responding and then click on the Force Quit button in the lower right corner. This way you don’t have to press and hold the power button until the whole computer shuts off.

Totally unrelated, but I should let people know that I don’t use the Apple keyboard and mouse on my Mac. I needed a more ergonomic solution and Macs can use any USB keyboard and/or mouse or trackball. You might have to re-label some of those shortcut keys for the keyboard but it is nice to have that curved keyboard that allows me to type without wrist pain. If you do pick out a trackball as a change from a regular mouse, try some different ones before rejecting all of them, I had to try a few different models before finding that I liked the Logitech Marble Mouse.

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