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Chapter 3. Installing, Uninstalling, and... > What to Do When a Program Freezes

What to Do When a Program Freezes

If you’ve used Windows for any length of time, you know how frustrating and annoying it is when a program suddenly stops responding. You can pound the keyboard and click the mouse until your fingertips are numb, but the program just ignores you. What do you do next? The good news is that, in Windows XP, a hung program rarely crashes the rest of your computer. If you can figure out how to close the program, you can get back to work. Try these three tactics (in the order shown here) to get unstuck:

  • Wait a minute (or two or three minutes).

    Sometimes the program hasn’t really crashed at all—it’s just taking its own sweet time to accomplish a task in the background. Go get a cup of coffee, make a phone call, or play a game of FreeCell. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover that the program springs back to life. If that doesn’t work, then...

  • Try to shut down the crashed program.

    Right-click its taskbar button and choose Close from the shortcut menu. If the program is truly hung up, this probably won’t work, but it’s worth a try. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the dialog box shown here, which forces the program to shut down immediately. (You’ll lose any unsaved data—sorry!)

  • Use Task Manager to shut down the program.

    This is one of the most powerful secret weapons Windows XP has. Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to bring up the dialog box shown in Figure 3-4. The Applications tab lists every program currently running on your PC. If you see the words “Not Responding” to the right of the program that’s giving you fits, you know that Windows agrees with you that it’s time to pull the plug. Click the hung program and then click End Task.

    Figure 3-4. When a program stops responding, click End Task to close it.



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