Reader Linda submitted a question a few days ago that reminded me that I’ve noticed many people think that they can quit an application by clicking the little red X button in the upper left of a window. When I switched to a Mac a few years ago I thought the same thing since Microsoft Windows has a similar button that does quit the application.
On the Mac, the red X button does not quit the application, it just closes that window. The application is still running, possibly with no open windows. Often this won’t cause you a problem but in Linda’s case it did. She was trying to update her version of Safari and the update installer asked her to quit Safari so it could continue. She thought she had since she’d clicked the red X button and there were no Safari windows open.
As you’ll see in this video, I showed her the difference between closing a window and actually quitting the application. Once she quit the application the update installer was satisfied and scurried along updating her Safari. Both Linda and the installer were happy. 🙂
In summary, there are three ways to close a window but NOT quit the application:
- Click the little red X button in the upper left corner of the window;
- Choose “Close Window” from the “File” menu;
- âŒ˜W (while holding down the “command” key, press “W”).
And here are two ways to quit an application:
- Choose the “Quit” command from the application (“Quit Safari” in the “Safari” menu, “Quit iTunes” in the “iTunes” menu, etc.)
- âŒ˜Q (while holding down the “command” key, press “Q”).
Personally, I almost always use the âŒ˜Q and âŒ˜W keyboard shortcuts. Once you remember “W” for “Window” and “Q” for “Quit”, they quickly become second nature.
Finally, if you still see that little bluish-white dot underneath an icon on your Dock (like the one to the left), then that application is still running. But now you know how to really quit it if you want.