Here’s a common problem we’ve all run into. You’re using an application in Windows when it just stops working. Maybe an error pops up that the application isn’t responding, or perhaps it just freezes with no sign as to when or if it may recover. At best, the freeze only affects the application itself so you can still use other Windows programs and features. At worst, your entire system may lock up with no clear way to recover. Yes, this situation is frustrating, but there are ways to bounce back.
Also: The ultimate Windows troubleshooting trick
For this process, I’m working with a Windows 10 PC. But the steps for grappling with frozen applications and systems are virtually the same between Windows 10 and 11.
To start, let’s say you’re running several different programs, and one starts to slow down and then freezes. For this example, I’m picking iTunes since that’s a buggy piece of software and one that often freezes in my experience.
You may also see a dropdown arrow for: View problem details:. Clicking that will reveal the name of the associated executable file and other details but won’t help you recover the app. Click the button to close it and wait a few seconds to see if it shuts down.
What if your Windows environment is frozen or unresponsive?
First, you’ll want to identify and try to shut down whatever application or process is affecting Windows using any of the methods I mentioned. If Windows still isn’t responding, then it may be time to exit.
Sign out of or shut down Windows
First, try signing out of your current session. Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and then select Sign out:. If that works, then sign in again to see if Windows is now responsive. If not, then you may need to shut down the PC entirely. From the Ctrl-Alt-Del screen, click the Power icon, and then select Shut down. If Windows is still stuck, then your last resort is to press and hold down the power button on your PC until it shuts off.
Finally, keep in mind that using any of these methods to shut down an application or Windows itself will result in losing any recent work you’ve created and haven’t saved. That’s of most concern with a productivity program like Microsoft Office. Some programs, such as Word and Excel, offer an auto recovery feature that can attempt to recover the latest version of the file even if you’ve neglected to save it recently. Check the productivity apps you use to see if they provide such a feature and enable it.