How to Kill a Full-Screen Frozen Application on Windows 10/11

Read here how to kill a full-screen frozen application on Windows, even if your task manager is hidden behind a frozen window.

What can you do when a full-screen application, like a game, is frozen on Windows and you can’t kill the program using conventional methods?

Since you can’t click anywhere on these cases, you will need to use the keyboard to end the application and go back to Windows. Here is what you can do:

  1. Try to press ALT+F4, if there is a notification about the non-responding application click on End Process or Close the Program.
    (If you want to know more, I’ve written an article on what does Alt+F4 do?
  2. If ALT + F4 didn’t work, Press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC to open the Task Manager.
  3. Under the Processes tab, find the application you want to end and click on End process.

This will usually be enough to finish the process.

However, sometimes, a full screen or a window application freezes, and when you press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC, the Task Manager is hidden.

You have three options if your Task Manager is behind a frozen window. You can:

If the End task button in Task Manager cannot end the process, try to terminate it by ending the Process Tree or using the taskkill command on Command Prompt.


How to Fix Task Manager Behind Frozen Window

As explained above, there are two ways to fix this issue. The first will help you access the Task Manager when you have this issue. The second will help you ensure that the task manager will never be hidden again behind a frozen program.


How to Show Task Manager by Dragging the Frozen Program to a Second Desktop

This method is very simple, and it involves creating a second desktop with Task View, so we can open the task manager there to end the process.

  1. Press Win + Tab to open Task View.
  2. Click on New Desktop (or press CTRL+WIN+D) to create a second desktop.
    (Windows 10 New Desktop will be located in the top left corner of the screen, while in Windows 11, it will be located just above the taskbar, in the center of the screen.)
  3. On the new desktop, press CTRL+SHIFT+ ESC open the task manager.
  4. Then kill the frozen program on the Task Manager.


How to Turn On Always on Top on Task Manager

Many users don’t know, but a task manager setting allows the task manager to always appear on top of any application. Turning this on will show the task manager on top of any frozen applications.

  1. Press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC to launch the task manager:
  2. Click on the Options tab or press ALT+O.
  3. With the Options tab open, click on Always on Top or press ALT + A:

From now on, the task manager will always appear on top.

Keep reading if you can’t end the process through the task manager’s End task.


How to End a Process which Task Manager is Unable to Terminate

When the End Task button on the Task Manager is not enough to kill a process, you can try to end its process tree. Doing this will kill the program and all related services and applications to ensure the program is closed.


How to End a Process Tree in Windows 10/11

  1. Launch the task manager by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ESC:
  2. Navigate to the Details tab and find the process you want to close.
  3. Right-click the process and click on End process tree:

If this didn’t work, try using the taskkill command on the command prompt.


How to Force Close a Process Using the Command Prompt

If a process can’t be ended through other methods, you can resort to the taskkill command on the command prompt. Taskkill is especially useful to end processes that are running as administrator.

To end a process using taskkill:

  1. Enter command prompt on Start Menu and select Run as administrator:
  2. On the command prompt, enter the command below to view all the tasks running:
    tasklist

    (You might see multiple instances of some processes (like Chrome.exe), those appear with a number in brackets in Task Manager. If you want to understand more about this, read what the number in parentheses means in task manager.)
  3. To end a process by its name, input the following command:
    taskkill /IM "process name" /F

    For example, if you want to kill the process Greenshot.exe, you will need to enter: taskkill /IM “Greenshot.exe” /F

When using the tasklist command you will realize that there is a PID number next to each process. This is a unique identifier used by Windows to identify each process.

You can also end a process by using its process ID instead of its name by using the command:

taskkill /F /PID number

For example, taskkill /F /PID 14164, where 14164 is the PID of the process Greenshot.exe.

Check the video below to learn more details on how the tasklist/taskkill commands work:


Conclusion

The first thing to be done when there is a frozen fullscreen application is to use the ALT+F4 shortcut and select Close program.

If this doesn’t work, we will need to kill this process using the Task Manager. However, the task manager might be hidden behind the frozen window, which leaves us without an option to kill the process.

In this case, create a new task view, open the task manager on the new desktop, then end the process. You can also prevent this issue by turning on Always on top in the Task Manager.

If a process can’t be killed by conventional means, you can end its process tree on task manager or use the taskkill command on the command prompt.

To know how to use task manager more effectively, check our article on task manager keyboard controls you should know.

Laerthe Côrtes

Laerthe Côrtes

My first desktop computer, back in the 1990s, opened a whole new world for me; since then I am a heavy PC user (who will never get used to smartphones.) I worked for five years in the PC software industry, and my favorite version of Windows is still Windows 95.

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