How to View and Kill Processes via Mac Terminal

Nicholas Russell
By Nicholas Russell 15 Min Read
15 Min Read

Hey there! Today, I want to share some cool tricks with you. Imagine having the ability to peek into what’s going on in your computer and even putting an end to things that are slowing it down.

Well, guess what? You can do all that using some awesome commands in Mac’s Terminal!

View Processes via Mac Terminal

Alright, let’s put on our detective hats and dive into the first way of checking out what’s going on inside your computer. It’s like opening a secret window into your system’s activities. We’re going to use a cool command called top. It’s like having your own personal spy tool for your Mac!

Step 1: Launch Mac Terminal

First things first, open up your Mac Terminal. It’s like the superhero command center for your computer adventures.

Step 2: Unleash the “top” Command

Now, here comes the magic spell – type in top and hit that Enter key. It’s like summoning a wizard to show you the magical world of your system processes.

Step 3: Expand and Explore

As your Terminal transforms into a live dashboard, you’ll see a list of applications and processes doing their thing. It’s like having a backstage pass to your computer’s concert. Make sure to stretch out the Terminal window so you can catch all the action!

Check out the cool stats, like which processes are hogging your CPU. Oh, and see that mysterious PID? That’s the Process ID, like a secret code for each process. We’ll need that code when we embark on our mission to stop misbehaving processes.

Why “top”?

Think of top as your VIP ticket to the inner workings of your Mac. It’s like having a backstage pass to the show, but for your computer. You get to see everything in real-time – who’s the star (CPU hog), who’s just chilling, and who’s causing a ruckus.

Stay tuned because next up, we’ll learn how to be the superhero and put an end to unruly processes using the power of the Terminal! Get ready for some tech superhero action!

The ps Command

Now, let’s uncover another secret weapon in your Terminal toolkit – the ps command. It might not be as flashy as top, but trust me, it’s like the reliable sidekick you can always count on.

Step 1: Open Up Mac Terminal

Back to our superhero command center! Launch the Terminal and get ready for some behind-the-scenes action.

Step 2: Unleash the “ps” Command

Type in ps -ef and hit that Enter key. It’s like summoning your trusty sidekick to give you a rundown of what’s happening in your computer neighborhood.

Step 3: Decoding the Output

Look at the screen, and you’ll see a list of processes and their Process ID (PID). It’s like having a neat and organized directory of your computer’s activities. The second column? That’s your golden ticket – the PID.

But wait, the list is zooming by like a high-speed train! No worries, we’ve got tricks.

  • Pause and Play: Add a magical touch by using ps -ef | more. Hit Enter, and the show pauses when the screen is full. Tap the spacebar to see the next chapter.
  • Save the Show: Want a snapshot of the action? Direct the output to a file with ps -ef > psdata.txt. Now you’ve got a backstage pass saved in a file!

Why “ps”?

Think of ps as your methodical friend who likes things tidy. It might not show the real-time hustle and bustle, but it gives you a snapshot that you can carefully examine. It’s like a detective’s notepad – organized and ready for your investigation.

So, whether you’re a fan of real-time excitement with top or a methodical investigator with ps, the Terminal is your playground, and you’re the master of your Mac universe! Stay tuned for more tips on mastering the art of Terminal magic!

Kill Processes via Mac Terminal

Now, it’s time to unleash your superhero powers and learn how to put an end to mischievous processes using the mighty kill command in your Mac Terminal. Get ready for some action!

Step 1: Launch Mac Terminal

Back to the command center! Open up your trusty Terminal and get ready to take command.

Step 2: Hunt Down the PID

To kick off the mission, you need to find the Process ID (PID) of the pesky application you want to terminate. If you’re familiar with the process, you can use the commands we learned earlier (ps -ef or top) to spot it. If not, don’t worry! We have a detective trick up our sleeves.

Let’s say you want to stop the Calculator app. Type in:

ps -ef | grep Calculator

In the results, focus on the second column – that’s your PID! In our example, it’s 9407. Ignore the line that says grep Calculator; that’s just the detective tool doing its job.

Step 3: Execute the Ultimate “Kill” Move

Now, it’s time to strike with the kill command. Type in:

kill -9 9407

Hit Enter, and watch the magic happen. The -9 is like the superhero code that says, “Terminate without questions.” It’s the ultimate move to swiftly end the process.

Verification: Did You Get ‘Em?

After the heroic move, you won’t see a big announcement. The Terminal stays cool and silent. To confirm your victory, rerun the ps command:

ps -ef

If you did it right, you should only see your grep command, and the mischievous process is nowhere to be found. Victory dance, anyone?

Why “kill”?

Think of kill as your superhero cape – it’s the final touch to restore peace in your computer city. The -9 is like saying, “No questions asked, just get it done!” It’s the ultimate move to keep your system running smoothly.

Congratulations! You’ve just added a powerful skill to your Terminal arsenal. Stay tuned for more adventures in the world of Mac Terminal mastery!

Why Would I Need to Kill a Process?

Now that you’ve got the tools to peek into your Mac’s secret activities and terminate misbehaving processes, you might be asking, “Why would I even need to do this?” Well, my tech-savvy friend, let me enlighten you on the reasons behind this superhero skill.

Reason 1: Taming the CPU Beast

Imagine your computer is like a busy kitchen, and each process is a chef. Sometimes, one chef gets a bit too excited, using up all the stove burners and leaving no room for others. That’s when you step in with your kill command – it’s like telling that overzealous chef to take a break and share the kitchen.

Reason 2: Hidden Villains in the Background

Not all troublemakers wear a flashy costume. Some lurk in the shadows as background processes, not visible on your desktop. With the kill command, you become the superhero who exposes and eliminates these silent villains, keeping your computer city safe and sound.

Reason 3: Battling Bugs and Glitches

Picture this: You’re the hero testing a new app or script, and suddenly, chaos ensues! There’s a bug, an infinite loop, or the app freezes. What do you do? You turn to your trusty kill command, the ultimate weapon to end the madness and restore order.

Reason 4: The Convenience Factor

Sometimes, you’re in the middle of a task, and a process decides to misbehave. Instead of hunting it down in the application monitor or resorting to a full system reboot, you opt for the swift and convenient method – the kill command in your Terminal.

Why Play the Process Terminator?

Think of yourself as the guardian of your computer city. kill is your superhero move to maintain balance and keep everything running smoothly. It’s not just about fixing issues; it’s about being in control, making your Mac dance to your tune.

So, now that you’re armed with knowledge, go forth and be the master of your Mac universe! Stay tuned for more tips and tricks as we continue our journey into the exciting realm of Mac Terminal mastery!


Congratulations, tech enthusiast! You’ve embarked on a thrilling journey into the heart of your Mac’s command-line interface – the Terminal. We’ve uncovered the power of commands like top, ps, and kill, transforming you from a curious explorer to a skilled master of your Mac universe.

You’ve learned how to use top to witness real-time magic, peeking into your computer’s activities like a digital detective. ps became your trusty sidekick, offering a more organized snapshot of processes. And then, there’s kill – your superhero move to eliminate mischievous processes and restore order.

Understanding these commands isn’t just about tech prowess; it’s about gaining control and having fun with your computer. Whether you’re taming CPU beasts, exposing hidden villains, or battling bugs, the Terminal is your playground, and you’re the master.

Terminal isn’t just a tool for the tech elite. It’s a convenient way to handle misbehaving processes, providing a swift solution without the need for a graphical interface. You’ve become the guardian of your computer city, ensuring a smooth operation with a few well-placed commands.

Your Terminal journey doesn’t end here. The knowledge you’ve gained opens doors to endless possibilities. Explore more commands, experiment with scripts, and become the tech maestro you were destined to be.

As technology evolves, so does your mastery. Keep an eye out for more tips, tricks, and adventures in the exciting realm of Mac Terminal. You’re not just a user; you’re a commander, and your Mac is ready to dance to your commands!

So, go forth, embrace the Terminal magic, and continue your journey into the vast and captivating world of Mac mastery. Until next time, happy exploring! 🚀


What is Mac Terminal, and why would I use it?

Mac Terminal is a command-line interface that allows users to interact with their Mac using text commands. It’s useful for tasks beyond the capabilities of the graphical user interface. In this article, we explore how to view and manage processes using Terminal.

How does the “top” command differ from the “ps” command?

The “top” command provides real-time information on running processes, like a live dashboard, while the “ps” command offers a snapshot with less real-time excitement. “top” is like having backstage access to ongoing activities, whereas “ps” is more methodical and organized.

Why would I need to use the “kill” command on my Mac?

The “kill” command becomes handy when you encounter misbehaving processes. It’s your superhero move to stop CPU-hogging tasks, eliminate hidden background villains, battle bugs, glitches, and maintain control over your computer city.

Can I terminate a specific application using the “ps” command?

Absolutely! You can use the “ps” command in combination with “grep” to find the Process ID (PID) of a specific application. Once you have the PID, you can use the “kill” command to terminate the application, as demonstrated in the article.

Is there a difference between terminating a process from Terminal and using the application monitor?

While both methods achieve the same goal, using Terminal can be more convenient in certain situations. Terminal provides a quick and direct way to end processes, especially when dealing with background tasks or when an application monitor might not be sufficient.

Can I view the output of the “ps” command later without it scrolling by too quickly?

Yes, you can. The article suggests using the “more” command to pause the output when the screen fills up. Alternatively, you can direct the output to a file using the “>” symbol, allowing you to review the data later using an editor like nano or a text editor in Finder.

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