When using terminal sometimes you need to break the program. Sometimes you press Ctrl-c sometimes Ctrl-x and sometimes Ctrl-z

In some circumstances, it might simply be closing a quote or pressing enter a few times there are even instances when Ctrl-d will work.

So when I get stuck, like an idiot, I start mashing those keys like an idiot in the hope that the process will quit. In 95% of the cases it works and when I get desperate I just close the terminal and that works 100% of the time. I'm sure there is a logical reason for the various states due to the program being in a particular state but all I want to do is just break the application and return to the bash prompt.

Is there a super key that will break the process without having to mash these 4 magic keys in the hope that the application will terminate?


The super key is closing the terminal. :-) That, or the power button on your computer.

Each of the key combinations Ctrl+c, Ctrl+x, Ctrl+z, and Ctrl+d does a different thing.

  • Ctrl+c : generates an interrupt signal (SIGINT).

  • Ctrl+x : I'm not sure what this does.

  • Ctrl+z : suspend the process, allowing it to be resumed at a later point (SIGSTOP).

  • Ctrl+d : sends an end-of-file (EOF) character.

Each process is at liberty to interpret these signals as they see fit. Hence, there is some heterogeneity in the response.

A more generic way to terminate a process would be to kill it with a SIGKILL signal, the most aggressive way, which is which (I think) is the same as closing the terminal window. It's better to attempt Ctrl+d and Ctrl+c first though, because these are signals that the process can anticipate, allowing it to end in a predictable and safer way.

Check the manual page with man 7 signal.

  • ctr-z suspend, didnt know that, how do you resume? – Meer Borg Apr 4 '13 at 4:50
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    If there's a single process, then just type fg. You can also resume it in the background with bg. There's quite a lot you can do with this, running multiple jobs in a single terminal. Try googling "bash jobs" or similar. – Sparhawk Apr 4 '13 at 4:54
  • Thanks, i normally use screen command for that, always wanted to know why when exiting terminal it said there were running jobs, now I know, pressed ctr-z wrongly sending it to background instead of terminating – Meer Borg Apr 4 '13 at 5:06
  • Closing the terminal window sends SIGHUP, I believe. You should only send SIGKILL as a last resort, since it forces a program to quit without having a chance to clean up after itself. Better to send SIGTERM or even a manual SIGHUP. – Scott Severance Apr 4 '13 at 8:49
  • @ScottSeverance Yeah, I didn't really go into SIGTERM, but I suspect that SIGINT (Ctrl+c) or EOF (Ctrl+d) are even safer? But yes, I agree that SIGTERM is better than SIGKILL. – Sparhawk Apr 4 '13 at 10:38

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