Mac Apps

Fix macOS’ “The application is not open anymore” error

When you’re using your Mac, it’s possible you may encounter macOS’ “The application is not open anymore” error – even when though this application is still open, and may even be clearly visible onscreen.

Typically, once you’ve encountered this error the application in question will become unresponsive and you’ll be unable to close and relaunch it using normal methods. Even if you do manage to close the app, then it’ll usually refuse to disappear completely, for example it may remain visible in your Dock, or pieces of the app will appear onscreen at random.

In this article, I’m going to share several tricks that you can use to close even the most stubborn of apps, so the next time you encounter this error you’ll know exactly what you need to do in order to solve it.

Force Quit the app

Your Mac can only force quit apps that it detects as being open, so misbehaving applications won’t always appear in the ‘Force Quit’ menu, but since this is the easiest method it’s always worth a shot:

  • Click the ‘Apple’ logo in your Mac’s menu bar.
  • Select ‘Force Quit.’
  • The subsequent popup displays a list of all the apps that are currently running on your Mac. If the misbehaving app appears in this list, then select it and click ‘Force Quit.’
  • Relaunch the app to see whether this easy fix has solved your problem.

Quit the associated process

If the application doesn’t appear in the ‘Force Quit’ menu, then it’s time to dig a bit deeper and kill the process (or processes) that are associated with this application:

  • Open a Finder window and navigate to ‘Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor.’
  • Make sure the Activity Monitor’s ‘CPU’ tab is selected.
  • In the ‘Search’ bar, enter the name of the application that’s been causing you problems, such as ‘Safari’ or ‘Preview.’
  • Activity Monitor will display all the currently-active processes that include this search term. Note that this may include processes that are not related to the application in question, so automatically force quitting every process in this list may have negative consequences for other applications or even the wider macOS system. If your search returns any processes you’re unsure about, then researching this process online can usually turn up all the information you need to decide whether it’s safe for you to hit that ‘force quit’ button or not.
  • To force quit a process, select it and then click the little ‘X’ button (where the cursor is positioned in the following screenshot).

  • Read the warning dialogue and, if you’re happy to proceed, click ‘Force Quit.’

Reboot your Mac

While forcing quitting all of an application’s processes is usually enough to resolve the issue, some apps have a large number of processes, or strangely-named processes that aren’t easy to spot in the Activity Monitor. If you’re unable to track down all of an application’s processes, then it’s possible that this app may continue to linger in the background, triggering more error messages.

If you’ve done your best to close all associated processes but are still encountering error messages, then your only option may be to restart your Mac.

If the problem keeps coming back…

If this error message is popping up on a regular basis, or it persists across a reboot, then as a last resort you may want to try deleting the application’s container folder.

This folder contains files that will be auto-generated the next time you launch the related app, however it may also contain the application’s settings, or unsaved and autosaved documents, so you should only resort to this fix after exhausting all other options. It’s also recommended that you create a copy of the container folder before deleting it, so you have an easy way of restoring the container folder to its original state if you do encounter any issues.

  • Open a Finder window and select ‘Go > Go to Folder…’ from the toolbar.
  • Enter the following file path: ~/Library/Containers. Click ‘Go.’
  • Find the container that’s associated with the application that’s been causing you so many problems, for example is the container for the Mail app, and is the container for Preview.

  • If you haven’t already, create a copy of this folder and place it outside of the Library/Containers folder.
  • Delete the app’s original container folder.
  • Relaunch the app, and see whether this has resolved your problem.

Before you go

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CleanMyMac is highest rated all-round cleaning app for the Mac, it can quickly diagnose and solve a whole plethora of common (but sometimes tedious to fix) issues at the click of a button. It also just happens to resolve many of the issues covered in the speed up section of this site, so Download CleanMyMac to get your Mac back up to speed today.


About the author


I've been a passionate evangelist for Apple and the Macintosh throughout my working life, my first love was a Quadra 605 working with a small creative agency in the south of Norfolk UK in the mid 1990's, I later progressed to other roles in other Macintosh dominated industries, first as a Senior graphic designer at a small printing company and then a production manager at Guardian Media Group. As the publishing and printing sector wained I moved into Internet Marketing and in 2006 co-founded which grew to become one the top 200 visited sites in the US (according to Quantcast), at its peak receiving over 15 million visits per month. For the last ten years I have worked as an Affiliate and Consultant to many different business and start ups, my key skill set being online marketing, on page monetisation, landing page optimisation and traffic generation, if you would like to hire me or discuss your current project please reach out to me here.

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