How to Stop Processes Run by “launchd” in Mac

To stop processes run by launchd on a Mac, you typically use the launchctl command. launchd is the service management framework used in macOS for starting, stopping, and managing daemons, applications, processes, and scripts. Here’s how to manage these tasks:

1. Identify the Process

First, you need to find the label or identifier of the process you want to stop. Processes managed by launchd are defined in property list (.plist) files located in several directories:

  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents: User-specific agents provided by the user.
  • /Library/LaunchAgents: Agents provided by administrators or the system for all users.
  • /Library/LaunchDaemons: System-wide daemons provided by administrators or the system.
  • /System/Library/LaunchAgents and /System/Library/LaunchDaemons: Apple-provided agents and daemons.

2. Use launchctl to Stop the Process

Once you’ve identified the process or service you want to stop, you can use the launchctl command to stop it. You’ll need the label of the service, which is typically the name of the .plist file without the .plist extension.

To unload (stop) a service, open the Terminal and use the following command:

launchctl unload /path/to/your.plist

For example, if you want to stop a user-specific agent:

launchctl unload ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.example.myagent.plist

This command tells launchd to stop managing the specified service, effectively stopping it if it’s currently running.

3. To Permanently Stop the Process

The unload command stops the process but does not prevent it from reloading after a reboot. If the process is configured to start automatically, you might want to remove or disable its .plist file:

  • Remove: Simply deleting the .plist file will stop launchd from loading the process in the future. Ensure you have a backup before deleting it.
  • Disable: Some .plist files, especially those in /System/Library, should not be deleted. macOS Catalina and later versions with a read-only system volume make this especially complex. For these, you can often disable the service within the .plist file by setting the Disabled key to true:xmlCopy code<key>Disabled</key> <true/> After modifying the .plist file, you must unload and reload it for changes to take effect.

Note on System Integrity Protection (SIP)

On macOS Catalina and later, System Integrity Protection restricts what the root user can do, especially in system directories. Be cautious when modifying anything in /System, /bin, /usr (except /usr/local), and /sbin. If you need to modify these for legitimate reasons, you might have to disable SIP, which carries risks and is generally not recommended.


Stopping a process managed by launchd involves identifying the process through its .plist file and using launchctl unload to stop it. Remember to exercise caution, especially with system processes, and consider the implications of disabling services on the stability and security of your macOS system.