There are various ways to display all the applications or programs that run on a Mac, including even those applications that run in the graphical user interface (GUI) in window mode. All of this is necessary to identify even processes and tasks hidden at the system level, usually running in macOS.

We will look at four different ways to view running applications and processes in macOS, some methods are quite convenient and can be applied to all users.

How to View System Processes with GUI in macOS?


The easiest way to find out which applications are currently working is to simply look at the Dock program in macOS. If you see several glowing points under the application icon, it’s open and running.

Although there is nothing wrong with using this approach, it is obviously somewhat imperfect, because it only shows how window applications work — that is, applications that function in the GUI in macOS. All this is also limited by what you Can’t directly impact these apps.

In addition, these small luminous indicators are very small and not too noticeable, and many people do not notice them at all. Fortunately, there are more effective ways to see what is currently running on Mac, and also to take immediate action if there is a need to stop a certain number of applications.

Launch Menu

Just press Command + Option + ESC buttons to bring up the main window “Forced Quit Applications”, which can be used as a simple task manager for macOS. It is possible to display a list of all active applications running in macOS, and here they are will be reflected exactly the same as you see them in Dock.

One of the obvious advantages in the “Command + Option + ESC” menu is that it actually allows you to work directly with running applications, that is, for example, to force them to complete if they are shown in red font, which means that they are down or inactive.

Activity Monitor

The most powerful application and utility for displaying management processes in macOS graphical interface, Activity Monitor is a powerful task manager that shows not only all active applications that are running, but also all active and inactive processes. It will display in its window literally everything that runs on the Mac, including the aforementioned “window” applications and even background applications (those that are not visible in the Dock program and in the “End Forced” menu), menu items, system-level processes, processes, launched under accounts of different users, inactive processes, maintenance of various internal libraries, literally everything that is executed as processes in macOS at any level.

How to View System Processes in Terminal?

Working with the command line, you can use a few more advanced tools to view every process running on a Mac, starting from user applications of the basic level and basic system functions that are usually hidden from a regular user on macOS. In many ways, these tools can considered as a command line within the Activity Monitor, and we will focus on two of them – top and ps.

Just type command in command line and press “Enter”.


The command will show a list of all running processes and various statistics about each process. This is usually the most useful command for sorting by processor or memory usage, in which case the extension is especially necessary:

top -o cpu

(sort processes by CPU usage);

top -o rsize

(sort processes by RAM usage).


The PS command by default will only display active Terminal processes on behalf of the current user, so the command may seem useless if you are not using the command line.

By applying extensions, you can unleash all active and inactive processes, although perhaps it would be better to use the ‘AUX’ combination, which is used here as follows:

ps aux


Which of the above methods to choose? You decide. Some users can use the “Activity Monitor” or even the command line, while others can use the forced application termination menu.

In any case, do not forget to visit the pages of our site, and we will definitely tell you something else interesting about macOS.

It’s the best time to ask questions and give us your feedback in comments.


Hi there! My Name is Vincent Lago! My goal is to share insightful reviews, guides, and manuals for people looking to know more about current solutions for Apple hardware and OS. I have years of technological background knowledge including owning a custom iMacs & PCs which was using for different types of business. And now, I want to share my experience with you.

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