How to Control Alt Delete on Your Mac

You should press multiple keys together to perform a specific task or function. Control+ Alt+ Delete is a combination of three keyboard keys on a PC, generally labeled Ctrl, Alt, and Delete on your keyboard. In a Mac, Ctrl is also known as Command, and Alt is also known as Option.

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A key combination occurs when two or more keys on a keyboard are used together to perform a specific task or function. The combination of Ctrl, Alt and Delete keys while holding it down can forcefully close applications in Windows and restart the computer, log in, etc.

But the key combination that is used in Windows or Linux does not work for the same purpose on Mac. So what's the key combination users should use on Mac when they need to force quit a program? Keep reading, you will get the answer.

Control Alt delete? What's the meaning?

Ctrl-Alt-Delete is a combination of keyboard keys that are used as a shortcut to quit running programs forcefully. In the Windows system, this shortcut was first applied on Windows 95. Users can check the status of all currently running programs and terminate any of them with this shortcut.

Users can press these three keys at the same time to end a program or to reset the operating system on a Windows computer. This is a common troubleshooting method. When some running software causes the computer to freeze and cannot be closed manually, users can use this shortcut to force quit.

Control Alt Delete Alternative on Mac

In macOS, Ctrl is known as Command, and Alt is also known as Option. The alternative of Ctrl+ Alt+ Delete  is Command+ Option+ Escape on Mac. Here are the detailed steps:

Step 1. Press the "Command," "Option," and "Escape" keys simultaneously.

Step 2. The force quit window will be shown on the screen.

Step 3. Now select the program which you want to force quit.

Now let us see some native methods of force-quitting any application.

Force Quit using the Menu Bar:

Step 1. Click on the Apple logo at the top left corner of the screen.

Step 2. Click on the "Force Quit..." option in the dropdown menu.

Step 3. Select the offending program and hit "Force quit", in the popup window.

Force Quit through the dock

Step 1. In your dock, right-click on the program you want to close.

Step 2. A menu should pop up with the "Force quit" option; click it to force quit, and the program should shut down.

There are several other shortcut combination keys on Mac. 

Let us explore the list of some other common shortcuts on Mac as a bonus tip:

  • Command+ A: Selects all the items
  • Command+ C: Copy to clipboard (works for file Finder as well)
  • Command+ V: Paste from clipboard (works for files in the Finder as well)
  • Command+ S: Saves the current document
  • Command+ P: Prints the current document
  • Command+ F: Opens a Find Window
  • Shift+ Command+ G: Goes back to the previous occurrence.
  • Command+ Delete: Moves the selected item to the trash.
  • Shift+ Command+ Delete: Empty the trash.
  • Option+ Shift+ Command+ Delete: Empty the trash without confirming the dialog.

How to Recover a File Deleted by Shortcuts on Mac

There can be instances where you have deleted some files using the shortcuts and later, you realized that you need them back. Are there any chances of recovering the deleted files? Yes, you can!

1. Files deleted by Command (⌘) + Delete

Using the Command (⌘)+Delete shortcut will move the files to the Trash. Now you can recover the deleted files by following the below-mentioned steps.

Step 1. Click on the Trash icon and open it.

Step 2. Look at the deleted files or folders and choose which one to recover.

Step 3. Right-click on that file you want to recover. A dropdown menu will appear.

Step 4. Click on 'Put Back', this will restore the item.

Recover deleted files on Trash

2. Files deleted by Option + Command (⌘) +Delete

If you use the Option+Command (⌘)+Delete shortcut, sadly, the files you delete will not be stored in the Trash and will be permanently deleted. It means you can't use the PutBack method to recover them. In this case, we suggest you do nothing and apply the data recovery software immediately. One such tool is EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac is a software that can scan and restore deleted or lost data in 3 steps and 2 minutes. It can recover data that has been permanently deleted from the Trash, or files from damaged or corrupted hard drives, partitions, or SD cards, and so on.

If you didn't lose much data, the free version is enough for you. Because EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac enables users to recover 2GB of data for free. If you want unlimited data recovery, you can upgrade to the pro version at a reasonable price.

Step 1. Select the location to scan

Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac and choose the hard drive, SSD,  SD card, USB flash drive, or TF card where you lost data. Click "Search for lost files" to start scanning.

Note: Before data recovery, you'd better click "Disk Backup" from the left sidebar to create a backup of your Mac to avoid further data loss. After backing up, the software can recover data from the Mac backup, and your computer can wirte new data again.

select a location and click search for lost files

Step 2. Filter lost Mac data

The software will automatically scan for lost data on MacBook/iMac. When the scan completes, filter wanted data through the "Type" and "Path" buttons.

filter lost files in types

Step 3. Recover lost data or files

Double-click a file to preview it. Then, click the "Recover" button to restore the lost data to another place. 

click recover to recover lost data


In this article, we have discussed what is the shortcut and how Ctrl Alt Delete alternatively works with the Mac computer. Command + Option + Escape is a helpful shortcut when your Mac is frozen, or an application has stopped responding, as it forces the application to stop.

But there also lies a risk when using shortcuts. As it is force stopping an application so the unsaved changes could be lost, also there can be chances of corruption. Nevertheless, it is a useful shortcut, should be used only when required.

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Updated by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is a senior editor and data recovery specialist of EaseUS. He mainly writes articles and how-to tips about data recovery on PC and Mac. He has handled 10,000+ data recovery cases and is good at data recovery of NTFS, FAT (FAT32 and ExFAT) file systems, and RAID structure reorganization.

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Written by Jean

Jean is recognized as one of the most professional writers in EaseUS. She has kept improving her writing skills over the past 10 years and helped millions of her readers solve their tech problems on PC, Mac, and iOS devices.

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