Managing Processes in Mac Terminal

When using the Mac Terminal, it's important to be familiar with managing processes. Understanding how to start, stop, and monitor processes can greatly enhance your productivity and efficiency. In this article, we will explore various commands and techniques for managing processes in Mac Terminal.

1. Viewing Processes

To view a list of currently running processes, you can use the ps command. By default, it will display the processes associated with the current Terminal session. However, you can also view all processes on your system using the following command:

ps aux

This will provide you with a detailed list of all processes, including their process ID (PID), CPU usage, memory consumption, and more.

2. Starting New Processes

To start a new process in the Mac Terminal, you can use the open command. For example, if you want to open a specific application, you can simply type:

open /Applications/

Replace ApplicationName with the name of the application you want to open. This will launch the application and start a new process associated with it.

You can also start background processes using the & symbol. For instance, if you want to run a script in the background, you can use the following syntax:

sh &

This will execute the script in the background, allowing you to continue using the Terminal for other tasks.

3. Stopping Processes

To stop a running process, you can use the kill command followed by the process ID (PID). First, you need to find the PID of the process you want to terminate. You can do this by using the ps command we discussed earlier. Once you have the PID, you can kill the process using the following command:

kill PID

Replace PID with the actual process ID of the process you want to stop. This will send a termination signal to the process and it will be stopped.

If a process does not respond to the termination signal, you can use a more forceful approach by sending a kill signal with the killall command. For example:

killall ApplicationName

Replace ApplicationName with the name of the application or process you want to terminate. This command will kill all processes with that name.

4. Monitoring Processes

Sometimes, you may want to monitor the resource usage and activity of a specific process. For this purpose, you can use the top command. It provides a real-time overview of the processes running on your system, sorted by various criteria such as CPU usage or memory consumption.


By default, the top command will display the most active processes at the top of the list. You can use keyboard shortcuts like q to quit the top command.


Managing processes in the Mac Terminal is essential for efficient workflow management. By familiarizing yourself with commands like ps, open, kill, and top, you can easily start, stop, and monitor processes to optimize your productivity. Whether you're a developer, system administrator, or casual user, knowing these fundamental techniques will greatly enhance your proficiency in using the Mac Terminal.

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