The Windows Task Manager is one of the core programs that ships with every version of the Windows operating system.
Designed to provide users with an overview of what is running and happening on the system, it is considered an advanced tool by many.
The Task Manager is more or less identical on Windows 7 and earlier versions of Windows while it has changed in Windows 8 and newer versions.
So how do you start the Task Manager on your system?
Probably the easiest and most common option is to use Ctrl-Shift-Esc to do so. This opens the Task Manager right away on the desktop.
There are however other options to open the Task Manager (not all may be available in all Windows versions).
You can use the Task Manager for a variety of tasks. Here are a couple of common ones:
The Task Manager
The task manager displays the running processes under the current user account on run on Windows 7 and earlier, and all running apps on Windows 8 and later on start. Windows 8 users can click or tap on more details to display the running processes as well. It opens in a basic view mode on Windows 10 but remembers when you switch to the new mode.
Note that processes includes services as well that are running on the system at the time
Each process is listed with its name, cpu and memory load, user account it is running under and description by default. On Windows 10, you get the processes listing which groups processes and the details listing which does not do that.
It is possible to add information to the table, for instance the process ID or I/O reads or writes. Check out this guide that explains how to do so in detail. Basically, what you do is right-click on the table header row to add or remove rows from the listing.
A right-click on a line displays a context menu with several options. Here are the most important ones (you find some of them only under Details in Windows 10):
Processes can be sorted with a click on a table header. It is for instance possible to sort processes by cpu or memory use which can provide you with information on which processes use the most system resources.
The button "Show processes from all users" restarts the Windows Task Manager to display processes that are not run by the user account but by other users on the system.
Performance and Networking
A click on the performance tab displays performance related information including the current cpu and memory usage as well as the history, and additional information such as the available memory or the total number of processes, threads and handles.
Related to that is the networking tab which displays the network utilization.
Microsoft has merged network and performance under Windows 8 so that the information is displayed on the same screen.
The Windows 10 task manager displays more information, e.g. about hard drives.
The third and final major component of the task manager is the services tab. It lists all services and their state, and provides options to start and stop services right from there.
The button services opens the Services manager of the operating system.
Windows 8+ specific
Windows 8 ships with three additional tabs in the task manager.
The first displays items that are loaded on start. This is limited to programs though. Options are available to disable the program so that it won't be loaded on system start.
App History lists all apps that have been started on a system in the past 14 day period. The apps' cpu time and network utilization are listed on the page.
Details finally is a detailed processes listing that offers additional information about each process.
Windows 10 specific
The Windows 10 Task Manager features additional options that previous Task Managers lacked. It has a new users tab that lists processes sorted by signed in user and some new bits of information such as the GPU performance or GPU temperature.
Now You: Are you using the Windows Task Manager? If so, for what?Advertisement
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.