Killing Multiple Instances of a Process on Mac OS X

Published: 01 Jan 2013

In this post, I'll outline a couple ways to kill multiple running instances of a process on OS X.

A handy program to have is pidof, which is a utility that returns the process identifier (PID) of a running process or processes.

Since it's not available by default on Mac, you can use homebrew: brew install pidof

Now, you can easily find the PIDs for a process, for example to see the PIDs associated with all running instances of nginx, run pidof nginx.

To kill all running instances of nginx use kill $(pidof nginx)

Sometimes using pidof won't work because the processes don't have an accurate name associated with them. An example is if you're running a program with a runtime such as java.

In this case you can first find the processes with something like ps aux |grep tomcat

You can exclude the grep process and pipe them to awk and kill them:

kill `ps aux | grep tomcat | grep -v grep | awk '{print $2}'`


kill `ps aux | grep '[t]omcat' | awk '{print $2}'`