What is Microsoft Windows Task Manager and How Can It Help You?

Microsoft Windows Task Manager

Task Manager (previously Windows Task Manager) is a powerful tool packed with useful information. It reports your system’s overall resource usage as well as the status of running programs. It’s a great way to keep tabs on system performance. The graphs and charts share a lot of information about your system’s essential resources, namely the CPU, RAM, GPU and storage drive utilization. And the best part is all these vital statistics are provided for you in real time. You can use Task Manager to review which applications and background processes are running. You can even use it to stop applications that aren’t running.

How to Launch Task Manager

Resource Monitor and Performance Monitor are extensions of Task Manager. There are several ways to launch Task Manager. A keyboard shortcut we recommend is, Ctrl + Shift + Esc. Or right-click the Windows taskbar and select Task Manager.

You can also press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and click Task Manager in the window that appears. You can also find the program in the Start menu. If Task Manager opens in compact view, click More Details to expand the view.

Windows 10 Task Manager Menu Options

You can also find useful options in the Task Manager menu bar:

File

Run New Task: From here, you can launch a program, folder, document, or network resource by providing its address. To launch the program as Administrator, you can also check “Create this task with administrative privileges.”

Options

Always on Top: Enabling this option means that Task Manager will always be on top of other windows.

Minimize on Use: Selecting this option minimizes Task Manager whenever you right-click a process and select “Switch To.”

Hide When Minimized: Enabling this option will keep Task Manager running in the notification area (system tray).

View

Refresh Now: Immediately refreshes the data displayed in Task Manger.

Update Speed: Gives you the option to choose how frequently the data displayed in Task Manger is updated: High, Medium, Low or Paused. Paused won’t update the data until you select a higher frequency or click “Refresh Now.”

Group By Type: Processes on the Process tab are grouped into three categories: Apps, Background Processes and Windows Processes. Enabling this option will show them mixed in the list.

Expand All: Google Chrome, for example, uses multiple processes that Task Manager combines into a “Google Chrome” group. You can expand individual processes to gain more in-depth statistics about individual processes by click the arrow to the left of each process’s name.

Collapse All: Using the previous example, selecting this view mode will collapse all the Google Chrome process groups in the list.

Windows 10 Task Manager Tabs Explained

Now that you’ve clicked on More Details, you can now see all of Task Manager’s tabbed interface. Here are all of the more advanced tools. Task Manager will remember your preferences and open the more advanced view in the future. Task Manager includes the following tabs:

Process

Here’s where you’ll find a list of running applications and background processes, along with CPU, memory, disk, network, GPU, and other resources your system is currently using.

Performance

This shows real-time graphs with details about total CPU, memory, disk, network and GPU resources usage. You’ll also find many other details, like your laptop’s IP Address and the model names of the CPU and GPU inside.

App History

Information presented here is mostly for UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps, i.e., Store apps. Not traditional Windows desktop apps. But you’ll get information about how much CPU and network resources apps have used for your current user account.

Startup

As the name suggests, it’s a list of the applications Windows automatically starts when you sign into your laptop or user account on a shared computer. You can disable unnecessary startup programs from here. Or from Settings > Apps > Startup.

Users

Ever wanted to know how many user accounts are currently signed into your PC? This is where you find that information. This tab provides other useful user information like how many resources they’re using. And the applications they’re running.

Details

Here you get a drill down about the processes currently running on your system.

Services

You can manage all of your system services from here. It provides the same information that you’ll find in services.msc = the Service management console.

Process Explorer

This has hopefully provided you with a brief overview with what Task Manager is. Along with an overview of the menus and tabs. Although Task Manager is a powerful tool. If it’s not powerful enough for some of the things you need to do. We recommend Process Explorer.

It’s a free program from Microsoft and part of the SysInternals suite of useful system tools. You get access to features and information not included Task Manager. You can see which program has a particular file open. And you get the option to unlock that file. The default view even makes it easy to see which processes opened other processes, making it a comprehensive tool worth checking out.