Task Manager

Updated: 11/04/2017 by Computer Hope

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.

How to open the Windows Task Manager

The Task Manager is opened by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc on the keyboard. You can also open the Task Manager by right-clicking on the taskbar and selecting "Task Manager."

Tip: Another way to open the Task Manager is by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del on the keyboard and selecting "Task Manager" or "Start Task Manager."

Tip: Windows 8 and Windows 10 users can also access the Task Manager by right-clicking the start button or pressing the Windows Key + X to access the power user task manager. In this menu, you can access the Task Manager.

Tip: In Windows Vista and later versions, click Start, type taskmgr in the Search text box, and click on the taskmgr.exe option in the Program list that is displayed.

Note: 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.

Note: Early 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.

Visual examples of Task Manager

Below are visual examples of the Task Manager in Windows 2000, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

Windows 10 Task Manager

Windows 10 Task Manager

Windows 8 Task Manager
Windows 8 Task Manager

Windows 7 Task Manager
Windows 7 Task Manager

Microsoft Windows Task Manager
Windows 2000 Task Manager

Explanation of the tabs in Task Manager

Below is an explanation of each of the tabs found in all versions of the Windows Task Manager window with information about what can be done in the tab.

Applications tab

The Applications tab is in all versions of Windows except Windows 8 and Windows 10 and shows all open programs running on the computer. For most users with Windows 7 and earlier this tab is the most visited tab because it is where you go when a program has stopped responding, and you need to End Task that program. Windows 8 and 10 users can find the End Task in the Processes tab.

Processes tab

The Processes tab is in all versions of Windows including Windows 8 and Windows 10 that shows all Windows processes currently running on the computer. Starting with 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

The Services tab is in all versions of Windows that shows all of the Windows Services currently running on the computer.

Performance tab

The Performance tab is in all versions of Windows that displays the computer's system available system resources including how much CPU, Memory, Disk Drive, Wi-Fi, and Network is being used. Newer versions of Windows also show the chart of usage for each of these as they are being used. At the bottom of this tab is also a quick link to the Resource Monitor.

Networking tab

The Networking tab is in all versions of Windows except Windows 8 and Windows 10. The Networking tab shows all network traffic happening on the computer this will include any LAN or Wireless networking traffic.

Tip: In Windows 8 and Windows 10 in the Processes tab it will show you the Network usage if you're viewing the Task Manager with More details.

Users tab

The Users tab is included with all versions of Windows and 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 tab

The App history tab was first introduced with Windows 8 and shows the overall history of each of the Windows Apps that have run on the computer (not to be confused with the traditional Windows programs).

Startup tab

The Startup tab was introduced with Windows 8 and 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 tab

The Details tab was introduced with Windows 8 and has full details of each of the processes running on the computer.

What to do in the Task Manager?

One of the most common things done in Task Manager is using End Task to stop a program from running. If a program is no longer responding, you can choose to End Task from the Task Manager to close the program without having to restart the computer.

Why are there duplicate processes listed in Task Manager?

Some programs may break parts of the program out to their own process. For example, the Google Chrome browser loads each of the open tabs into its own process to help make the program more secure and stable. There is nothing wrong with the computer if you see more than one of the same processes open at the same time.

Why am I unable to open the Task Manager?

If you're encountering issues opening the Task Manager, it's possible that the computer could be infected with a virus or spyware. There is 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.

How to get even more control of the Windows processes

The Windows Task Manager is an excellent tool for almost all Windows users. However, there are times where more experienced users may need additional details and information about the processes running on their computer. For these situations, we highly recommend the free Process Explorer utility from Microsoft that is part of the Sysinternals.

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