How To Stop Matlab From Running

How To Articles

In my experience as a technical writer and avid MATLAB user, I have encountered situations where I needed to stop MATLAB from running. Whether it’s due to an unresponsive script, a long-running computation, or a program error, knowing how to effectively stop MATLAB can save you time and frustration.

Understanding MATLAB’s Execution Flow

Before we dive into the different methods to stop MATLAB, it’s important to understand how MATLAB executes code. MATLAB operates on a command-based approach, meaning that each line of code is executed sequentially, and the program flow is controlled by the order in which the lines of code are written.

When you run a script or a function in MATLAB, the program enters a “busy” state, where it cannot process any new commands until the current execution is completed. This can be problematic if your code gets stuck in an infinite loop or takes too long to compute.

Method 1: Using Ctrl + C

The simplest and most commonly used method to stop MATLAB from running is by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C. This shortcut sends an interrupt signal to MATLAB, causing it to terminate the current execution and return to the command prompt.

To use this method, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the MATLAB command window to make sure it is active.
  2. Press the Ctrl key on your keyboard and hold it.
  3. While holding the Ctrl key, press the letter C key.

After performing these steps, you should see MATLAB return to the command prompt, indicating that the execution has been stopped.

Method 2: Using the “Cancel” Button

If you prefer a graphical approach, MATLAB provides a “Cancel” button in the command window that allows you to stop the currently running code. This method is especially useful when the keyboard shortcut method is not working or if you are running MATLAB in a graphical user interface (GUI) mode.

To use this method, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the “Cancel” button located on the right-hand side of the command window toolbar.
  2. Wait for MATLAB to process the cancel request and return to the command prompt.

Note that the “Cancel” button may not appear in older versions of MATLAB or if you have a customized MATLAB environment. In such cases, you can resort to using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C as described in Method 1.

Method 3: Terminating MATLAB Process

If both the keyboard shortcut and the “Cancel” button fail to stop MATLAB or if MATLAB becomes completely unresponsive, you can force the termination of the MATLAB process. However, I must emphasize that this method should only be used as a last resort, as it may potentially cause data loss or corruption.

To terminate the MATLAB process, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Task Manager on your operating system.
  2. Navigate to the “Processes” or “Details” tab (depending on your OS).
  3. Locate the MATLAB process in the list (it might be called “MATLAB.exe” or “matlab.exe”).
  4. Right-click on the MATLAB process and select “End Process” or “Terminate”.
  5. Confirm the termination if prompted.

After terminating the MATLAB process using this method, you may need to reopen MATLAB and possibly recover any unsaved work.


In this article, I have shared different methods to stop MATLAB from running. The keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C and the “Cancel” button provide convenient ways to interrupt the execution of MATLAB code, while terminating the MATLAB process should only be used as a last resort. Remember to save your work regularly and use these methods responsibly to ensure a smooth MATLAB experience.