The Windows Task Manager (Core Windows Tools)

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 3, 2014
Updated • Sep 9, 2019

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).

  1. Right-click on the taskbar and select (Start) Task Manager.
  2. Use Windows-r to bring up the run box, type taskmgr and hit enter.
  3. Press Ctrl-Alt-Del and on the screen that pops up (Start) Task Manager.

Common Tasks

You can use the Task Manager for a variety of tasks. Here are a couple of common ones:

  1. Terminate programs that cannot be closed normally anymore (crashed but still running, closing has no effect..)
  2. Check the cpu load and memory usage of the system or individual programs running on it.
  3. Find out which processes are running on the system.

The Task Manager

windows 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.

task manager update speed windows
The Windows 10 task manager

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):

  1. Open File Location - This opens the file's location in the default file manager, usually Windows Explorer or File Explorer.
  2. End Process or End Process Tree - This terminates the selected process or the selected process and all other processes that it has started directly or indirectly. Useful if you cannot close a program window on the system the usual ways for example. A tap on the Del key while a process is selected has the same effect as End Process.
  3. Set Priority - This changes the priority of the process for as long as it is running. You need to use third-party tools if you want to modify the priority of a process permanently.
  4. Set Affinity - Force the selected process to use only select processor cores instead of all of them. This too is only valid for as long as the process is running.
  5. Properties - Opens the properties dialog window of the selected file.
  6. Search Online (Windows 8+) - Runs a search for the process in the default browser and search engine.

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.

windows 10 task manager performance
The Windows 10 Task Manager: resources

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.

Additional Resources

Now You: Are you using the Windows Task Manager? If so, for what?

The Windows Task Manager (Core Windows Tools)
Article Name
The Windows Task Manager (Core Windows Tools)
An introduction to the Windows Task Manager explaining how to launch the tool and what you can use it for on a Windows PC.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.