Windows 10 Task Manager is capable of many things, but its use can seem overwhelming. Here is a clear overview of what Task Manager offers.
You can open Windows Task Manager just to close crashed programs, but it’s useful for much more. Task Manager provides you with a lot of information about your system and management options.
Let’s take a look at Windows 10 Task Manager to learn how to use this important utility.
What is Task Manager?
Windows Task Manager is a system monitoring utility, which means you can manage all the processes running on your computer and view other important information. You can categorize these processes according to their usage to see what is consuming your computer’s resources.
There is also a lot of other information in Task Manager, which makes it a useful place to visit when you need to check something on your computer. It’s not the only utility you need, but it’s a good first way to overall PC management.
How do I open Task Manager?
You may be used to pressing Task Manager with a key combination Ctrl + Alt + Del. However, this is not the most effective way to open it in modern versions of Windows.
This three-key combination is a special Windows keyboard shortcut that opens the Windows Security page, which includes keyboard shortcuts for locking your computer, logging off, opening Task Manager, and more. It is also used for a secure connection because only Windows can respond to this specific shortcut.
The fastest way to open the Task Manager is to press any keys Ctrl + Shift + Esc with your keyboard. If you don’t like keyboard shortcuts, right-click an empty area on the taskbar and select Task management to open it. If you plan to use Task Manager frequently, right-click its icon and select Pin to the taskbar for easy access.
There are many other ways to open Task Manager as needed. When you open it, you may see a streamlined interface with only a list of running applications. This interface allows you to select an application and click End of the task to end it, but you have to click Learn more, in the lower left corner of the window to access the entire Task Manager interface.
How do I use Windows Task Manager?
Let’s go through the Task Manager tab one at a time. We look at what each tab provides and how to use the information it provides.
On the tab Process, you will see a list of everything that is currently running on your computer. These processes are divided into three parts sorted by name:
- The Applications are programs that you have open and that are running.
- The Background process represents everything that works but is not explicitly opened as an application. Here you can see cloud storage services or background applications such as clipboard managers.
- The Windows process contains the system services that the operating system needs to function properly.
Click one of the header fields at the top, such as name Where Processor, to sort by this information. Each heading indicates the total amount of this resource used as well as a process-specific breakdown.
Drag to rearrange these titles. To add or hide them, right-click anywhere in the sections and select the ones you want to see.
Right-click any process to see its options. Because Task Manager groups all application processes into one list, you need to click the small arrow to see and manage them one by one.
Some useful options in this menu are e.g. End of the task “kill” an unresponsive application Open the location of the file to see where the process is on your computer and Search online for more information on unknown processes.
While this menu is handy for closing stuck applications, be careful with Task Manager processes that you should never “kill”.
On the tab Presentation, you will see charts that represent different groups of resources on your computer. These are CPU, memory and GPU. Click the field to see a real-time chart of its usage.
Each field also contains information about the component it represents, which is useful for checking the technical information on your computer. For example, on a page Processor, you will find your processor model at the top of the page as well as the field Operating time which shows how long ago your computer was restarted.
To keep an eye on these destinations while doing something else, right-click the destination list on the left and select Summary screen. You can then keep this window open while playing a game, working on a processor-intensive application, etc.
Click for more information Open the Resource Monitor at the bottom of this page to open a more advanced utility.
Application History tab
Tab Application history does what it says: it provides historical information about the resources used by applications. You can see the total time the application has used the processor, as well as the network usage. The data covers the last 30 days.
Unfortunately, this panel is limited to Windows 10 Store applications, so it does not contain information about standard desktop software. However, it can tell you which apps are running too much in the background.
Tab Start is one of the most useful elements of Task Manager. It lists all the applications that are configured to work when you log on to Windows.
Applications often configure themselves to act on startup, even if you have not explicitly instructed them to do so. While it is convenient for the programs you use all the time, running unnecessary applications slows down startup and wastes background resources.
Scroll through the list to find applications you don’t need to launch at startup. Click on each of them and click the button disable in the bottom right corner.
It is a good idea to allow security, backup, cloud storage, and other similar applications to run at startup. However, you probably don’t need Skype or iTunes to launch right after you sign in.
Tab Users is only useful if you currently have more than one account logged on to your computer. When this is the case, you will see the resource usage for each of them, as in the Processes tab. Click the arrow next to the user to expand all of their processes, where you can learn more or end them as shown above.
Additionally, you can right-click another user to force him or her to log out.
Advanced users will appreciate this tab Detail ; it develops the information presented in the Process. By default, you see the process ID (PID), initiator user, and process name for each item. Right-click the titles and select Select the columns choose from many other options.
When you right-click a process, other options appear, such as the ability to prioritize it or end the entire process tree. But most ordinary users don’t have to worry about this. If you need much more information than what the Processes tab can provide, see this page. Otherwise, feel free to ignore it.
Tab Services Task Manager is a smaller version of the Services utility that you can open by typing “services” in the Start menu. Services are background processes that Windows or other System Utilities perform to perform various tasks. For example, wuauserv is associated with Windows Update.
In most cases, you should not deal with the items shown here. If you switch services without knowing what you are doing, you may run into problems.
Task Manager: file, settings and view
A few options in the Task Manager menu bar complete their offerings.
By selecting File> Run New Task, you can start the process on your computer (similar to the Run dialog box). This is useful, for example, when you need to close and reopen a Windows Explorer task. Just type “explorer.exe” into this menu to restart Explorer.
Below Options, you can customize some of the small functions of the tool. Option Always visible keeps Task Manager on top of all other windows, which is useful if you want to see it for troubleshooting. Use the option Set the default tab to select the tab that opens by default when you start Task Manager.
Finally below Display, you can force the data update option Update now and select the frequency of automatic updates with Update frequency. Disable the function Group by type if you do not want the tab Process use the three parts mentioned above. Options Expand all and Shrink everything you can edit all process groups at the same time.
Manage Task Manager
Task Manager is not the most exciting part of Windows, but using its tools is part of the skills of a serious Windows user. Now you know where to go when you want to view your computer’s resource usage, change startup programs, or dive into active processes.