Quitting Apps vs. Closing App Windows on a Mac: What’s the Difference?

As a Mac user, you typically perform two actions: quitting apps and closing app windows. And depending on your workflow, you may often want to quit an app or close its window. Although these actions appear similar, they perform different tasks.

So, let’s look at what happens when you quit an app and how it differs from closing an app’s window on a Mac.


What Happens When You Quit an App?

App icon popup menu in macOS Dock

Quitting an app means ending all its processes. When you relaunch the app, it opens the windows from the previous session in the same size and location as before. Simply put, everything will look exactly as you left it if you quit and relaunch an app.

By default, quitting an app doesn’t close its windows. However, you can tweak this in System Settings to close all windows when quitting an app so they don’t reopen when you relaunch it.

Quitting an app is ideal if you want to free up your Mac’s resources, like memory and processing power. And since the app is no longer active in the background, you can conserve battery life and optimize system performance.

What Happens When You Close an App’s Window?

The close icon in the Notes window

When you close an app on your Mac, you’re not quitting the app but simply closing one of its windows. The app is still running in the background, which you’ll see if you check Activity Monitor. And if you Control-click the app’s icon in the Dock, you’ll be able to open a new window or bring up its active windows.

Unlike quitting an app, closing an app’s window means the app will begin afresh when you reopen it. You won’t see your previous session’s windows.

Closing an app’s window on your Mac is ideal if you want to declutter your Mac’s desktop without quitting it. But it’s not ideal if you want to conserve your Mac’s battery.

Should You Quit Apps or Close App Windows?

Ultimately, it depends on your needs. If you want to get rid of an app’s window while keeping the app running in the background, close the app’s window. If you’re done using an app for a while or want to conserve your Mac’s resources, quit the app.

Now that you understand the difference between quitting apps and closing app windows, you can decide what you prefer and use it accordingly.

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