Task Manager

The Task Manager is an operating system component found in all versions of Microsoft Windows since Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000. It enables a user to view each of the tasks currently running on the computer, each of the processes, and the overall performance of the computer. The Task Manager is accessed by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del on the keyboard and selecting "Task Manager" or "Start Task Manager". Below are visual examples of the Microsoft Windows Task Manager in Windows 2000, Windows 7, and Windows 8.

Windows 8 Task Manager
Windows 8 Task Manager

Windows 7 Task Manager
Windows 7 Task Manager

Microsoft Windows Task Manager
Windows 2000 Task Manager

Tip: A quicker way to access the Windows Task Manager is to press Ctrl + Shift + Esc.

  • In Windows XP and earlier versions, Task Manager can also be executed by running the taskmgr.exe file from the C:\Winnt\System32 directory or by clicking Start > Run, typing taskmgr and pressing Enter.
  • In Windows Vista and later versions, click Start, type taskmgr in the Search textbox, and click on the taskmgr.exe option in the Program list that is displayed.
  • If a program is no longer responding, users can also choose to "End Task" from the Task Manager to close the program without restarting the computer.
  • Earlier versions of Microsoft Windows (Microsoft Windows 3.x, Windows 95, Windows 98) had a program known as tasks to display the programs currently running. This program was executed by running the taskman.exe file from the C:\Windows directory.

If you're encountering issues opening the Task Manager, it's possible that the computer could be infected with a virus or spyware. There are known malware designed to cause issues with opening the Task Manager and end tasking them. If you're not able to open Task Manager using any of the recommendations on this page, we suggest scanning your computer for viruses and spyware.

Note: It could also be possible the Task Manager file in Windows is corrupted, preventing it from running. To fix this problem restore Windows to a previous restore point where the Task Manager was last working or run a Windows repair installation.

Explanation of the tabs in Task Manager

Tab Explanation
Applications Tab that has been included with all versions of Windows except Windows 8. The Applications tab shows all open programs running on the computer. For most users, this is the tab they visit the most, as it is the tab you'll want to go to when a program has locked up and you need to End Task that program.
Processes Tab that has been included with all versions of Windows including Windows 8. The Processes tab shows all Windows processes currently running on the computer. In Windows 8, Microsoft combined the Applications and Processes tab into the Processes tab, so in addition to the processes and services, Windows 8 also shows all running programs.
Services Tab that has been included with all versions of Windows that shows all of the Windows Services currently running on the computer.
Performance Tab that has been included with all versions of Windows that displays the computers system available system resources including how
Networking Tab that has been included with all versions of Windows except Windows 8. The Networking tab shows all network traffic happening on the computer this will include any LAN or Wireless networking traffic.
Users Tab that has been included with all versions of Windows. The Users tab shows all the users who are logged into the computer. In Windows 8, the Users tab also shows the processes that each user is running.
App history A tab introduced with Windows 8 that shows the overall history of each of the Windows 8 Apps that have ran on the computer (not to be confused with the traditional Windows programs).
Startup A tab introduced with Windows 8 that shows each of the programs that startup each time the computer starts, as well as the impact they have on the computer's load time. From the Startup tab you can also disable the startup programs from this section of Task Manager.
Details A tab introduced with Windows 8 that gives full details of each of the processes running on the computer.

Related pages

Also see: Ctrl-Alt-Del, End Process, End Task, Operating system terms, Task, Task list, Resmon