Is there any keyboard shortcut for the "task manager" (like Alt+Ctrl+Del in windows) when my machine goes into a crashed state?

  • 2
    as a comment windows bastardized ctrl+alt+del, it meant reboot for a long time, and then windows decided to make it pop a task manager instead. Jan 28, 2011 at 10:21
  • 5
    Just as an aside, it's not really Ctrl+Alt+Del in Windows (although in some cases it does bring it up directly, but not always), but rather Ctrl+Shift+Escape.
    – houbysoft
    Jan 28, 2011 at 12:02
  • There's no standard GUI for Linux. Something like this is entirely dependent on a desktop environment (Gnome, KDE, …) or window manager configuration. But if only an application has crashed, the usual system menus will keep responding, and if the whole system has crashed, nothing will respond. There are a few intermediate states where some fundamental system component (e.g. the X server) has crashed, see jsbillings's answerand jwernerny's answer. Jan 28, 2011 at 19:56

6 Answers 6


I am going to assume by "my machine go into crashed state" you mean that whatever task is taking up the display you are looking at has stopped responding. (In general, when something crashes on Linux, only that thing crashes and everything else keeps running. It's very rare that the entire machine comes to a halt.)

When all else fails, I like to switch back to a standard terminal interface (text mode as opposed to GUI) by hitting CTRL+Alt+F1. This brings up a login prompt. I then login, and enter the command top to see what is running. The process at the top of the list is the one using the most CPU and usually the problem, so I kill it by pressing k, and entering the process ID (the numbers on the left). I then go back to the GUI by pressing CTRL+Alt+F7 (or sometimes CTRL+Alt+F8, one of those two will work, but it might change). If things are now working, I continue on, if not, I'll try again or may just force a reboot.

  • 1
    Are you really talking about all Linux distros? Try to run Fedora 29 or Mint 19. When browser freezes, all the system freezes together :(
    – kokbira
    Apr 25, 2019 at 12:29
  • @kokbira You are correct, some things have changed in the 8 years since this was written. I will often just ssh into the system now. Still, there are still versions of distros for which this will work.
    – jwernerny
    Apr 26, 2019 at 18:38
  • The hotkey for the terminal on KDE is ctrl+alt+t
    – Richard
    Jul 11, 2022 at 16:34

Here are a few useful shortcuts you can try:

  • <Ctrl><Esc> displays table of processes
  • <Ctrl><Alt><Esc> converts the pointer to a skull-and-crossbones and will kill the process of the window you click on
  • <Ctrl><Alt><Backspace> kills the X-server
  • <Ctrl><Alt><Del> shutdown the system and reboot

It's slightly related, but if you're dealing with a crashed system, you might want to invoke the Magic Sysrq key. This way you can kill all processes, sync your disks, print out the active tasks, initiate a crash dump, and much more.


You can also use xbindkeys and define a binding to pop up top, htop, *top, gnome-system-monitor, etc. Switching to a TTY (jwernerny's answer) is probably the best idea if your system or X server is acting up.


Just two steps:

Step1 : Type top command in terminal.

$ sudo -s
[sudo] password for username : (type your password here)
$ top

It will give the list of processes running with process id , name , time , memory usage etc.

Step2 : Find the particular process and then it's respective id.Let us assume the process id as 12043 , then command goes like this

$ kill 12043

With kill we can kill/stop/abort a running process/hanged process.


No above answers has answered the real question. I just reached this thread and could not find the answer either. So here you go

  • For Gnome based environment go to Application -> System Tools -> System Monitor enter image description here
  • For Gnome based environment go to Applications > System > System Monitor
  • I didn't try killing anything with this, but just having it open let me close the hung window by clicking X.
    – Noumenon
    May 15, 2020 at 0:47

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