Sometimes I'll open a large structured files (say, JSON) using json-mode, but the contents are malformed in some way (or something) and my Emacs session will suddenly spike my CPU to 100% and become unresponsive. Attempting to quit with C-g seems to do nothing.

Is there a graceful way to recover from such a situation? I usually just end up killing my entire emacs process and (in bad cases), editing the .emacs.desktop file to omit the problematic buffers.

I'm running GNU Emacs 28.2 on macOS 13.4.1.

  • 1
    Send in a bug report (M-x report-emacs-bug), attaching the file (somehow - maybe as a link if it is really big) that caused the problem. How big is the file? How much memory do you have on your system?
    – NickD
    Jul 7, 2023 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


You can try multiple C-g. Better yet, you can try ESC ESC ESC. And you can try C-]. And if Emacs is somewhat responsive you might be able to use M-x top-level, to exit all recursive edits.

See the Emacs manual, node Quitting and Aborting.

But if those attempts don't help then you need to kill the Emacs process, I believe. You do that from outside Emacs (using a shell command such as kill or a tool such as the MS Windows Task Manager).

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