ELI5: Why does does unresponsive software sometimes start working normally the second after I try to close it?

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That depends on why it’s being unresponsive. Usually, it’s unresponsive because some process is blocked or waiting on a resource that it can’t access. When you click the close button, or when you force it to close via the task manager, you tell those processes to stop doing whatever they were doing. Since they’re no longer waiting on resources, the program becomes responsive again–but since you clicked close, it closes.


When you click the close button, it sends a high priority signal to the software to release any resources it has. One step in this is to immediately terminate whatever the program was attempting to do. Software appears to respond because it gave up whatever job it was trying to accomplish.


The software is a kid doing a really hard puzzle that he cant figure out, and is completely focused on it. You are waiting on the kid to finish his puzzle but he just cant, so you tell him to forget the puzzle. He says oh okay, drops the puzzle and gets up to leave.


You’re clearing a stuck process by killing all processes. Say you have 4 paper balls you’re trying drop through a tube into a basket. 1 goes through fine. 2 goes through fine. 3 gets stuck. 4 sits on top of 3. I spray gas on the balls and light them on fire. Ball 3 burns enough to drop through. Ball 4 goes through fine. Sadly, all the balls burn to ash.


Sometimes when things get unresponsive I open up task manager as sort of a threat, and just like that shit starts working again. Or maybe it just makes me feel better.