How to Unpause an Application in Mac OSX

by Michael on August 17, 2010 · 30 comments

I recently ran out of hard drive space while ripping DVDs. The resulting lack of Virtual Memory caused Mac OSX to “pause” several applications. Once I freed up some additional space, I wanted to unpause them, but was unsure how.

As it turns out, the solution is very simple, though it requires a bit of UNIX magic. For starters launch the Terminal app. Next, find the process in question using the ps command, as follows:

ps -ax | grep Word

This will return a list of processes with “Word” in their name. Find the relevant process (for me there was just one – Microsoft Word) and look at the first number in that row of the list. This is the process ID (PID).

To revive that process, issue the following kill command:

kill -CONT ###

Where ### is the PID. The application in question should once again be accessible.

Alternatively, you could force quit and relaunch the application, but doing so could cause you to lose whatever you working on.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

mac March 22, 2011 at 5:48 am

thank you!!!!


Alaa March 26, 2011 at 11:38 am

THANK YOU SO MUCH! if it wasn’t for this, i would’ve lost exactly 20 hours of work!!!
all love and respect for you.


Aaron March 28, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Thank you so much!!! Almost lost a whole lot of work: alternately the PID is listed if you open the activity monitor


Dave May 20, 2011 at 4:44 am

Thanks for sharing this – a big help!


Rich May 30, 2011 at 1:20 pm

It worked! Fantastic! Thanks!


Teee July 1, 2011 at 7:28 pm

this just saved my work! thank you!


Brit July 11, 2011 at 4:43 am

When I typed in the command I received this message

Gen-Sekiguchi:~ gensekiguchi$ ill – CONT 35852
-bash: ill: command not found

What did I miss?



Scott July 22, 2011 at 10:26 am

You missed the K in kill, and there shouldn’t be a space between the hyphen and the CONT:

kill -CONT 12345


Kristen August 28, 2011 at 10:01 pm

THANK YOU!! You saved my bacon. I couldn’t find the PID using Terminal, but the Activity Monitor got me to the right place and them the kill code worked it’s magic. I was having a cow over here and now am as happy as a clam. I also stood to lose 20 hours of work! Ugh. THANK YOU!!


Shaun August 31, 2011 at 9:09 am

Just what I needed to help a customer with a project. We definitely did not want to force quit. Thank you!


Patrick September 6, 2011 at 11:19 am

Worked like a charm. Photoshop had paused in the middle of the saving process, and I’m so relived to not lose all that work. Thanks for the tip.


Annie September 18, 2011 at 2:32 am

I could kiss you right now!! Thank you!!!


Daniel September 25, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Thank you! Very helpful


Johnnyb November 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I love you!


Harley November 29, 2011 at 10:41 am

Dude, you saved me from deleting a very complex after effects project. YOU ARE AWESOME!


Bear June 21, 2012 at 6:36 pm

This killed photoshop for me… lost hours of work. Do not use with photoshop.


BDubs July 6, 2012 at 9:14 am

AMAZING. Worked perfectly and saved me a TON of time. Thanks so much!


artfrankmiami September 12, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Thanks for the more detailed code writing. I saw this trick elsewhere but not as clear as yours. I had this huge movie poster file in Photoshop, just finished some major changes and clean up and wanted to add that one last “wafer thin mint” item when I was paused and it wouldn’t wake up for nothing. Activity Monitor trick didn’t work, but this did after 30 scary seconds.


joe October 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

thank you!


Dan October 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Thank you. so helpful


blasta October 18, 2012 at 4:16 am

Thanks a lot! It worked for me! Photoshop continued saving


Harley October 19, 2012 at 7:48 am

HALLELUJAH!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH! This has saved me!


Aline December 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm

THANK YOU! What a life saver πŸ™‚


KAREN February 16, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Thank you sooooo much! I had about 40 tabs open that I would have lost with a force quit if it weren’t for this.


femmelafemme March 12, 2013 at 9:29 am

you are an angel. thank you for saving several hours worth of work. πŸ™‚


Bianca April 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Thank you soooo much πŸ™‚


Kyle April 28, 2013 at 4:37 am

literally saved my essay!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCHHHHHHH


Sally October 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm

THANK YOU SO MUCH! This actually saved my life. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!! πŸ™‚


IceQueen October 23, 2014 at 10:46 am

Ah great, THANKS!
Only problem if the Terminal is affected as well πŸ˜‰


richard January 18, 2018 at 10:21 am

At last a man who gives succinct advise that works. thank you sooooo much


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