Mac101 – The Close Button

People coming to the Mac from the Windows world have some adjusting to do. One of the most difficult OS behavioral changes is how the red “Close Button” works in applications on each platform. Lets take a quick look at this.

To Close Or Not To Close

In the Windows world when you click the red “Close Button” on a document it closes the whole application. It has been that way for a long time. However, in the Mac world, when you click on the red “Close Button” in a document it just closes that particular document:

It does not close the whole application. The only way to close the whole application is to choose “Quit” from a menu or use the keyboard shortcut Command ⌘ – “Q”. If you have been a Windoze person for a while then the Mac way takes a little getting used to. For me, if I am done with a document AND the app, I just use Command ⌘ – “Q” and everything is closed at one time. Keyboard shortcuts are your friend.

If you have multiple documents open in an app and want to close all the open documents, but leave the app open then hold down the Option ⌥ key when you click the top most red “Close Button” and all of the open documents for that app will close. If any of your documents need to be saved you will be prompted to do so.

Let me close with this one caveat. Once in a while you will get an app on the Mac that DOES close with the red “Close Button”. I just reviewed an app called 321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac which works this way. Usually this is because the developers have a Windows version of the app and want the behavior to be the same.


The behavior of the red “Close Button” on the Mac can seem a little weird at first, but you get used to it.