How to quit Front Row if it locks up

Front Row screenshot (detail)Happy New Year to you!

Front Row. Where would we be without it? We use it all the time to watch DVDs and movies, and listen to music, on our living room iMac. Without Front Row and the Apple Remote, it would be a painful experience.

Still, it has its painful moments, such as the times when Front Row completely freezes. I’ve had this when playing DVDs, and occasionally when browsing the Movies folder (though often in the latter case it was simply being slow).

It’s not obvious what you can do in this situation. The Mac doesn’t respond to the keyboard, mouse, or remote. My previous solution was either to ssh from our other iMac and kill off the Front Row process (not an option if you only have one computer), or simply to power cycle the iMac (not ideal, obviously).

However, the other day I remembered that there was a keyboard shortcut for the Apple > Force Quit menu option when working in “normal” (non-Front-Row) mode: Command-Option-Esc. This brings up a “Force Quit Applications” dialog, allowing you to choose an application to kill. So when Front Row next locked up, I thought I’d try pressing Command-Option-Esc. Amazingly, it worked! I was immediately returned to the Desktop. It didn’t bring up the “Force Quit Applications” dialog, but it did kill off Front Row, which was the main thing. A handy trick to remember.

On a related note: Tired of having to press MENU on your Apple Remote five or six times to back out all the submenus and return to the Desktop? There’s a quicker way: simply press any key on the keyboard apart from the Front Row control keys (Return, Enter, Spacebar, Esc or the arrow keys). Front Row quickly exits, returning you to the Desktop with a single keypress. (Amazingly I only discovered this because our pesky 11-month-old loves to hammer on the keyboard while we’re watching movies!) Naturally this tip requires you to walk over to the iMac – unless you have a Bluetooth keyboard – but hey, we could all use the exercise, right? :)

Happy Front Rowing. (Note: these tips work on Tiger. Not sure about Leopard, as I’m too scared to upgrade right now!)

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2 Responses to “How to quit Front Row if it locks up”

  1. Brent Says:

    Confirmed. This works on Leopard as well. Thanks, you saved my coworker during a client meeting!

  2. Matt Says:

    @Brent: Great stuff! Funny you should post your comment right now, as I had this exact problem last week and fumbled around, eventually discovering the Force Quit shortcut. I’d completely forgotten I’d written this post 3 years ago!