For Windows users, Task Manager is a quick and reliable savior to a number of emergencies. With just a CTRL-ALT-DEL, you can shut down any program that is behaving haphazardly. While many Windows users know about Task Manager’s ability to close programs, there is actually a lot more to untapped functionality to it. Here is an easy guide to follow, detailing what each Task Manager tab does, and how to use them.
How to use Windows Task Manager
This is the primary tab that people are comfortable with, and in all honesty, the tab that is the most useful. Of course, the best use of this tab is being able to close a malfunctioning program immediately by pressing “end task” after right-clicking the program. However, there are a few other things you can do from this tab as well. The other options are:
Expand: You’ll notice some programs have a number next to them. This is actually because the Processes tab shows you a condensed version of an application. All the programs that the application is using are condensed into one spot, to make it easier for you to access. By pressing “expand,” you can look at each program individually.
Resource values: By default, the Processes tab will list the Memory, Disk, and Network uses of each program by their value. You can switch this to a percentage of total usage to get a better understanding of how much is actually being used by a program.
Create dump file: A dump file lets you take a virtual screenshot of a program in order to see how it was functioning at that time for later use. Usually, this is useful for specific professions, such as quality assurance agents.
Go to details: This brings you to the same program in the Details page, where you can do more actions.
Open file location: This will open the document folder that the file belongs in, allowing you to move where the file is, or perhaps even delete it.
Search online: Of course, this lets you look up the program online. This is particularly useful for finding out information on an obscurely titled program.
Properties: The second most useful option after “end task,” this allows you to look at the fine details of a program.
Under the Processes tab, you can also sort the programs by CPU, Memory, Disk, or Network usage, in order to determine what programs are using up the most of these.
This tab may be intimidating for some, and may not have particularly useful information if you’re not tech savvy. That being said, this tab gives a detailed account of CPU, Memory, Disk, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and GPU usage on your computer. As the name implies, this primarily is used for checking on computer performance, such as seeing why your download speed might be slow (if your CPU performance is high, then it may be the computer, while if it’s not, it may be your Wi-Fi connection).
This tab opens up your program usage history, allowing you to see what apps were last opened, and for how long, based on their CPU usage. You can also reopen these apps from this tab. The two primary uses of this tab are to monitor app usage (perhaps to see how long your child might’ve been playing a game on your PC), and to check if there have been programs running in the background recently.
This tab shows you what programs you can choose to open when your computer is starting up. These programs can either be “enabled” to open on startup or “disabled” so they don’t do that. In general, the less “enabled” programs, the faster your computer will run when booting up. That said, if there are programs you want to make sure are updated frequently, such as Steam, then you may want to enable these programs so they are always up to date (if your computer can handle them all upon booting up).
If you have only one Windows account connected to your computer, then there isn’t much use for this tab. However, with multiple user accounts, this tab will show you how much of your system is being used by each user. If a person doesn’t sign out of their account, then all the programs they had running will still be running in the background. You’ll be able to see those programs on this tab, and potentially see why your computer may be acting slow.
Also on this tab, you can do any of the actions you can do on the processes tab to the programs open under each user (except expand).
This tab is basically the extended version of the Processes tab. While Processes tries to condense apps into one program type (not always succeeding, but usually able to do so fairly well), the Details page will let you view each program an app is using.
This means if you have multiple tabs open on Chrome, Processes will most likely only show one program open, while Details will have a different program listed for each tab. Not only does it have pre-expanded sections, but it also always for a few more actions then the Processes tab. Notably, the Details page lets you “Set priority” and “Set affinity” to different programs. “Set priority” lets you determine where the program’s priority level fits in versus other programs. This means that if you want a specific program, such as Chrome, to perform better, you can make sure it has high priority, so your computer works on Chrome’s updates before other programs. Be careful about doing this with too many programs on a low functioning computer, as prioritizing a program like Chrome over the innate Windows programs can cause general performance issues.
As far as setting the affinity of a program goes; your computer has different cores that make up the CPU. By setting a program to a specific core, you can essentially set that program and core aside to prevent it from making the rest of your computer slow down. A program update or download are good examples for what can benefit from being set to a specific affinity. Be careful with this also, however, as while it will increase your computer’s overall performance, it can decrease the performance of the specific program you set if its meant to run on multiple cores.
The programs under this tab are primarily services that Windows has running in the background of your computer. This tab allows you to stop or start these services at will. It would benefit you to really look into each service before starting or stopping it to make sure its not integral to your computer’s current functions.
While most people only ever end up using the basic Task Manager that comes with a Windows device, there are actually more sophisticated programs that can expand on some of the uses that basic Task Manager program has. If you don’t feel like Task Manager can service the specific need you have, then you may want to download Task Manager DeLuxe as a replacement.