How to Open Activity Monitor on a Mac

Trying to force quit an app, wondering what’s keeping the fan spinning (and the Mac slow) or curious about what’s going on underneath the macOS hood? Find out here how to open Activity Monitor on a Mac, using Launchpad and the keyboard—or having it start automatically.

First, the Sound You Make Walking over Lava

Imagine (or recall) the sounds you’d utter walking over a volcanic lava’s flow. Chances are, you are close to what one form of flow is called.

ʻAʻā lava flows are characteristically rough and rubbly on the surface—and correspondingly hard and horrible to walk on as you go

Beneath the surface, the molten rock continues to flow, of course, and makes your progress even more difficult on foot.

Now, folk etymology aside, let’s peek quickly not beneath the quickly hardened surface of lava but at the innards of what is running hot on a Mac:

How to Open Activity Monitor on a Mac

Using Launchpad

Time needed: 1 minute.

To open the macOS Activity Monitor app on your Mac:

  1. Switch to Launchpad on your Mac.

    Here’s how: Pinch four or five fingers on a trackpad, for instance, to open Launchpad.
    You can find Activity Monitor in the “Other” folder on Mac Launchpad

  2. Click or tap Activity Monitor to open it.

    In a folder: By default, Activity Monitor is in the Other folder on Launchpad.
    Search: Start typing activity monitor to find and jump to Activity Monitor.
    Keyboard shortcut: If you use search or the arrow keys to highlight Activity Monitor on Launchpad, press Enter to open it.
    Use search to find and open Mac Activity Monitor fast on Launchpad

Use Spotlight to Open Activity Monitor

With Spotlight search, you can open Activity Monitor quickly when needed:

  1. Go to a Spotlight search prompt.
    Here’s how: Click the Spotlight icon in the macOS menu bar, for instance.
    macOS keyboard shortcut: Press Command Space by default to open Spotlight.
  2. Start typing activity monitor.
  3. Press Enter with Activity Monitor highlighted.
    While the rest is loading: You can press Enter while other results are still loading.

Open Activity Monitor from the Dock

If you use and consult Activity Monitor frequently, you can add it to the macOS Dock and open it from there:

  1. Add the Activity Monitor icon to the Dock.
    Here’s how: It’s easiest to open Activity Monitor using any of the other methods—using Spotlight, for instance—, then click its icon in theDock with the right mouse button and select Options | Keep in Dock from the context menu that has appeared.
  2. Click Activity Monitor in the Dock at any time to open or switch to the process managing app.

Set up a Keyboard Shortcut for Opening Activity Monitor

Using Shortcuts, you can also set up a key combination that will open Activity Monitor on your Mac:

  1. Create an Open App action in Shortcuts for Activity Monitor.
  2. Set up a keyboard shortcut for running the action, also in Shortcuts.
    Example: You can pick something like Command Option Shift A.

How to Open Activity Monitor on a Mac: FAQ

Can I have Activity Monitor open automatically when the Mac starts?


To make Activity Monitor launch automatically:

  1. Open Activity Monitor.
  2. Click on its Dock icon with the right mouse button.
    Hidden Dock: If the Dock is out of sight, move the mouse beyond the screen border that holds the Dock.
  3. Select Options | Open at Login from the context menu that has appeared.
    Have Activity Monitor open autoamtically at Mac startup

(How to open Activity Monitor on a Mac tested with macOS Ventura 13.3 and Monterey 12.0; updated May 2023)

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