Windows Task Manager is a powerful tool filled with useful information, from the system's total resource usage to detailed statistics on each process. This guide explains each function and technical term in the task manager.
This article focuses on Windows 10's task manager, although much of this also applies to Windows 7. Microsoft has improved task manager dramatically since the release of Windows 7.  How to start the task manager
Windows offers many ways to start the task manager. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager with a hotkey or right-click on the Windows taskbar and select "Task Manager".
You can also press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and then click "Task Manager" on the screen that appears or find the task manager for task manager in your Start menu.
The simple view
The first time you start the task manager, you see a small, simple window. This window shows the visible applications running on the desktop, except for background applications. You can select an application here and click "End Task" to close it. This is useful if an application does not respond, that is, if it is frozen, and you cannot close it in the usual way.
You can also right-click on a program in this window to access more options:  Switch to : Switch to the application's window, place it on the front of the desktop and place it in focus. This is useful if you are not sure which window is associated with which program.
While the Task Manager is open, a Task Manager icon appears in your message field. This shows how much CPU (central processing unit) resources are currently being used on your system, and you can mouse over it to see memory, disk and network usage. It's an easy way to keep tabs on your computer's CPU usage.
To see the system tray icon without the Task Manager appearing on the taskbar, click Options> Hide When Minimized in the entire Tool Manager interface and minimize the Task Manager window.
Task Manager Tables Explained
To see the task manager's advanced tools, click on "More Details" at the bottom of the simple view window. You will see the full tabbed interface displayed. The task manager remembers your preference and opens for the more advanced view in the future. If you want to get back to the simple view, click "Fewer details".
With more detailed information, the work manager contains the following tabs:
- Processes : A list of driver programs and background processes on your system along with CPU, memory, disk, network, GPU and other resource usage information.
- Performance : Real-time chart showing total CPU, memory, disk, network and GPU resource usage for your system. Here you will also find many other details, from the computer's IP address to the model names of the computer's CPU and GPU.
- App History : Information on how much CPU and network resource app has used for your current user account. This only applies to new apps in the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), in other words, Save apps and not traditional Windows desktop apps (Win32 applications.)
- Startup : A list of your startup programs, which are the programs Windows starts automatically when you log in to your user account. You can disable the startup programs from here, even if you can do so from Settings> Apps> Boot.
- User : The user accounts currently logged in to the computer, how much resources they use and what programs they use
- Details : More detailed information about the processes running on your system. This is basically the traditional "Processes" tab from the Task Manager on Windows 7.
- Services : Management of System Services. This is the same information you find in services.msc, the Services Management Console.
The Processes tab displays a comprehensive list of processes running on your system. If you sort it by name, the list is divided into three categories. The Apps group displays the same list of executables that you would see in the simplified view for "Fewer details". The other two categories are background processes and Windows processes, and they show processes that are not displayed in the standard simplified task manager.
For example, the tools such as Dropbox, your antivirus software, background update processes, and hardware notification tools (System Fields) may appear in the Background Processes list. Windows processes contain various processes that are part of the Windows operating system, although some of them appear in "Background Processes" for some reason.
You can right-click a process to see actions you can perform. The options shown in the context menu are:
- Expand : Some programs, like Google Chrome, have several processes grouped here. Other applications have several windows that are part of a single process. You can choose expand, double-click the process or click the arrow to the left to see the whole group of processes individually. This option appears only when you right-click on a group.
- Hide : Hide an extended group.
- Final task : End the process. You can also click the "End Task" button below the list.
- Restart : This option appears only when you right-click Windows Explorer. It lets you restart explorer.exe instead of simply completing the task. In older versions of Windows, you must quit the Explorer.exe task and then start it manually to fix problems with the Windows desktop, taskbar, or Start menu. Now you can only use this reboot option.
- Resource Values : Allows you to choose whether you want to see percentage or exact values for memory, disk, and network. In other words, you can choose whether to see the exact amount of memory in MB or how many percent of the system's memory program is used.
- Create dump file : This is a debugging tool for programmers.
- Go to details : Go to the process on the Details tab so you can see more detailed technical information.
- Open file location : Open File Explorer with the process's .exe file selected.
- Search the Web : Search for the name of the process on Bing.
- Properties : Display the Properties of the .exe file associated with the process.
You should not quit information unless you know what the task is. Many of these tasks are background processes important for Windows itself. They often have confusing names, and you may need to do a web search to find out what they are doing. We have a whole series that explains what different processes are done, from conhost.exe to wsappx.
This tab also shows detailed information on each process and their combined resource usage. You can right-click on the headings at the top of the list and select the columns you want to see. The values in each column are color-coded, and a darker orange (or red) color indicates greater resource usage.
You can click a column to sort by it. For example, click on the CPU column to see ongoing processes sorted by CPU usage with the largest CPU logs on top. The top of the column also shows the total resource usage of all processes on your system. Drag and drop columns to rearrange them. The available columns are:
- Type : The category of the process, which is App, Background Process or Windows Process.
- Status : If a program seems to be frozen, "Not Responding" will appear here. The programs sometimes begin to respond after some time and sometimes frozen. If Windows has turned off a program to save power, a green sheet will appear in this column. Modern UWP apps can interrupt to save power and Windows can also interrupt traditional desktop apps.
- Publisher : The program's name publisher. For example, Chrome shows "Google Inc." and Microsoft Word show "Microsoft Corporation."
- PID : The process identification number Windows has associated with the process. Process ID can be used by some functions or system tools. Windows assigns a unique process ID every time it launches a program, and process ID is a way to distinguish between multiple running processes if multiple instances of the same program are run.
- Process name : The file name of the process. For example, File Explorer is explorer.exe, Microsoft Word is WINWORD.EXE, and Task Manager itself is Taskmgr.exe.
- Command line : The full command line is used to start the process. This will show you the entire path to the process's .exe file (for example, "C: WINDOWS Explorer.EXE") and any command line options used to launch the program.
- CPU : The
- Memory : The amount of the physical work memory of the system that the process is currently used is shown in MB or GB.
- Disk : The disk activity that a process generates is displayed as MB / s. If a process does not read from or write to disk at the moment, it will display 0 MB / s.
- Network : Network usage of a process on the current primary network, shown in Mbps.  GPU : GPU (graphics processing unit) resources used by a process, which are displayed as a percentage of the available resources of the GPU.
- GPU Engine : The GPU and the engine used by a process. If you have multiple GPUs in your system, it shows which GPU a process uses. See the Performance tab to see which number ("GPU 0" or "GPU 1" is associated with which physical GPU.
- Power usage : The calculated power usage of a process with respect to its current CPU, and GPU Activity, for example, can say "Very low" if a process does not use many resources or "Very high" if a process uses a lot of resources. If it is high it means that it uses more electricity and shortening battery life if you have one.
- Power usage Trend : The calculated power consumption over time The power consumption column only shows the power consumption, but this column tracks the power consumption over time, eg if a program sometimes uses a lot of power but does not use much at the moment it can be said "Very low" in the power consumption column and "High" or "Moderate" in the Power Usage Trend column.
When you right-click The headings also show you a "Resource Values" menu the same options that appear when you right click on a single process. Regardless of whether you access this option by right-clicking on a single process, it always changes how all processes in the list appear.
Task Manager Menu Options
There are also some useful options in the Task Manager menu bar:
- File> Run New Task : Starting a program, folder, document or network resource with providing its address You can also check "Create this task with administrative permissions" to start the program as an administrator.
- Option> Always on top : The Activity Management window will always be on top of other windows while this option is enabled.
- Options> Minimize usage : The task manager is minimized when you right-click a process and select "Change". Despite the odd name, it is all this option.  Options> Hide when minimized : Task Manager continues running in the notification area (system tray) when you click the minimize button if you enable this option.
- View> Update Now : Update Speed : Select how often data displayed in the Task Manager is updated: High, Medium, Low or Paused. With Paused selected, data is not updated until you select a higher frequency or click "Update Now".
- View> Group by Type : With this option enabled, processes on the Processes tab are grouped into three categories: Apps, Background Processes, and Windows Processes. With this option disabled, they appear mixed in the list.
- View> Expand All : Expand all process groups in the list. For example, Google Chrome uses multiple processes, and they appear together in a "Google Chrome" group. You can expand individual process groups by clicking the arrow to the left of their name as well.
- Show> Hide All : Hide all process groups in the list. For example, all Google Chrome processes will only appear under the Google Chrome category.
Show performance information
The Performance tab shows real-time charts showing the use of system resources such as CPU, memory, disk, network and GPU. If you have multiple discs, network drives or GPUs, you can see them all separately.
You will see small charts in the left pane and you can click on an option to see a larger chart in the right pane. The chart shows resource usage over the last 60 seconds.
In addition to resource information, the Performance page displays information about the system's hardware. Here are just a few things that the different boxes show in addition to resource usage:
- CPU : Name and model number of your CPU, its speed, number of cores it has, and whether hardware virtualization features are enabled and available. It also shows the system's "uptime", which is how long your system has been running since it last started.
- Memory : How much RAM do you have, its speed and how many RAM cards you have motherboards used. You can also see how much of your memory is currently filled with cached data. Windows calls this "standby". This data will be ready and waiting if your system needs it, but Windows will automatically dump the cached data and free up space if it needs more memory for another task.
- Disk : The name and model number of your hard drive, its size and its current read and write speeds.
- Wi-Fi or Ethernet : Windows displays a network adapter's name and its IP addresses (both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses) here. For Wi-Fi connections, you can also see the Wi-Fi standard used at the current connection, such as 802.11ac.
- GPU : The GPU panel displays separate graphs for different types of activities, for example, 3D vs. video encoding or decoding. The GPU has its own built-in memory, so it also shows GPU memory usage. You can also see the name and model number of your GPU here and the graphics driver version it uses. You can monitor GPU usage directly from the Task Manager without any third party software.
You can also change this to a smaller window if you want to see it all the time on the screen. Just double-click anywhere in the empty white space in the right pane, and you will get a floating, always on top window with that graph. You can also right-click the graph and select "Graph Summary View" to enable this mode.
The "Open Resource Monitor" button at the bottom of the window opens the Resource Monitoring tool, which provides more detailed information about GPU, memory, disk and network usage of individual driving processes.
The App History tab applies only to Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. It does not show information about traditional Windows desktop apps, so most will not find it useful.
At the top of the window you see the date that Windows started to collect resource usage data. The list shows UWP applications and the amount of CPU time and network activity that the application has generated since that date. You can right-click on the headings here to enable some more options for more insight into network activity:
- CPU Time : The amount of CPU time the program has used within this time frame.
- Network ]: The total amount of data transmitted through the network of the program within this time frame.
- Measured network : The amount of data transmitted over measured networks. You can set up a network that is measured to save data on it. This option is intended for networks with which you have limited data, such as a cellular network to which you connect.
- Tile Updates : The amount of data that the program has downloaded to display updated live plates on the Windows 10 Start Menu
- Network Survey : The amount of data transferred over non-saturated networks.
- Downloads : The amount of data downloaded by the program on all networks.
- Uploads : The amount of data uploaded by the program on all networks.
Programming Starter Program
The Start tab is Windows 10's built-in launcher software. It lists all programs that Windows automatically launches for your current user account. For example, programs appear in your Startup folder and programs that start in the Windows registry.
To disable a launcher, right-click on it and select "Disable" or select it and click the "Disable" button. To activate it, click on the "Enable" option shown here instead. You can also use Settings> Apps> Boot Interface to manage startup programs.
In the upper right corner of the window, you see "Latest BIOS Time" on some systems. This shows how long your BIOS (or UEFI firmware) took to initiate the hardware when you last started your computer. This will not appear on any system. You cannot see if your computer's BIOS does not report this time to Windows.
As usual, you can right-click on the headings and activate additional columns. The columns are:
- Name : The name of the program.
- Publisher : Program publisher.
- Status : "Enabled" appears here if the program starts automatically when you log in. "Disabled" appears here if you have disabled the startup task.
- Startup Impact : An estimate of how much CPU and disk resources the program uses when it starts. Windows measures and tracks this in the background. An easy program will show "Low" and a heavy program will show "High". Disabled programs show "None". You can speed up your startup process more by disabling programs with a "High" start stroke than by disabling a
- : Launcher : This shows whether the program starts due to a registry entry ("Registry") or because it is located in your startup folder ("Folder".)
- Disk I / O on startup : The disk activity that the program performs at startup, in MB. Windows measures and records this every start.
- CPU at startup : The amount of CPU time that a program uses at startup, in ms. Windows measures and records this at startup.
- Running Now : The word "Running" appears here if a startup program is running. If this column is displayed for a program, the program has turned itself off or you have closed it yourself.
- Deactivated time : For the startup programs that you have disabled, the date and time you deactivated will be displayed. here
- Command line : This displays the full command line that the launcher launches with, including any command line options.
The Users tab displays a list of logged in users and their driving processes. If you are the only person logged into your Windows computer, you will only see your user account here. If other people have logged in and then locked their sessions without logging out, you will also see the locked sessions displayed as "Relaxed." This also shows CPU, memory, disk, network, and other system resources used by processes running under each Windows user account.
You can disconnect a user account by right-clicking on it and selecting "Disconnect" or force it to log off by right-clicking on it and selecting "Logout". The cancel option terminates the desktop connection, but the programs continue to run, and the user can enter in-like lock a desktop session. The sign-off option ends all processes like logging out of Windows.
You can also manage another user account process from here if you want to terminate a task that belongs to another running user account.
If you have the right-click on the headings, the available columns are:
- ID : Each logged in user account has its own session ID number. Session "0" is reserved for system services, while other programs can create their own user accounts. You usually do not need to know this number, so it is hidden by default.
- Session : Type of session this is. For example, it will say "Console" if it is available on your local system. This is primarily useful for the server's remote desktop system.
- Client Name : The name of the remote client system that opens the session, if available remotely.
- Status : Session Status-For example, if a user's session is locked, the status is "Disabled".
- CPU : Total CPU used by user processes.
- Memory : Total memory used by the user's processes
- Disk : Total disk activity associated with the user's processes.
- Network : Total network activity from the user's processes.
Manage detailed processes
This is the most detailed activity management box. It is like the Processes tab, but it provides more information and displays processes from all user accounts on your system. If you have used Windows 7 Work Manager, it will become familiar to you; It is the same information that the Processes tab in Windows 7 shows.
You can right-click on processes here to access additional options:
- Final task : End the process. These are the same options available on the Normal Processes tab.
- Exit process tree : End the process and all processes created by the process.
- Set Priority : Set a priority for the process: Low, Under Normal, Normal, Over Normal, High and Real Time. Processes start at normal priority. Lower priority is ideal for background processes, and higher priority is ideal for desktop processes. However, Microsoft recommends touching real-time priority.
- Specify affinity : Set the processor affinity for a process, in other words, which processor runs a process. By default, processes run on all processors in your system. You can use this to limit a process to a particular processor. For example, this is useful for old games and other programs that assume you only have one single CPU. Even if you have a single CPU in your computer, each kernel appears as a separate processor.
- Analyze the waiting time chain : Show which threads the processes are waiting for. This shows which processes and threads are waiting to use a resource used by another process and is a useful debugger tool for programmers to diagnose hangings.
- UAC Virtualization : Enable or disable user control virtualization for a process. This feature addresses programs that require administrator privileges by virtualizing access to system files, redirecting files, and registering to other folders. It is mainly used by older programs, such as Windows XP era programs not written for modern versions of Windows. This is a debugging option for developers, and you shouldn't have to change it.
- Create dump file : Take a snapshot of the program's memory and save it to disk . This is a useful programmer debugging tool.
- Open file location : Open a file window that shows the process executable file.
- Search online : Make a Bing search for
- Properties : Display the property window of the process's .exe file.
- Go to service (s) : Display the services associated with the process on the Services tab. This is especially useful for svchost.exe processes. The services will be highlighted.
If you right-click on the headings and select "Show Columns" a much longer list of information that you can show here, including many options that are "t is available on the Processes tab, is displayed.
Here is what every possible column means:
- Package name : For apps in the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), the name of the app package is displayed, from which the process is from. For other apps, this column is empty. UWP apps are usually distributed through the Microsoft Store
- PID : The unique process ID number associated with that process, which is associated with the process and not the program, for example if you close and open a program, the new program process will have a new process ID
- Status : This shows if the process is running or turned off to save power, Windows 10 always hangs UWP apps that you do not use to save system resources. troll if Windows 10 interrupts traditional desktop processes.
- Username : The name of the user account running the process. You will often see system user account names here, such as SYSTEM and LOCAL SERVICE.
- Session ID : The unique number associated with the user session running the process. This is the same number that is displayed for a user on the Users tab.
- Job object ID : The "job object where the process runs." Job objects are a way of grouping processes so that they can be managed as a group.
- CPU : The percentage of CPU resources that the process is currently using over all CPUs. If nothing else uses CPU time, Windows will display the System Idle process with this one. In other words, if the system solution process uses 90% of your CPU resources, it means that other processes on your system use a combined 10% and it was idle 90% of the time.
- CPU Time : The total processor time (in seconds) used by a process after it started running. If a process is closed and restarted, this is reset. It's a great way to discover CPU-hungry processes that may be idle at the moment.
- Cycle : The percentage of CPU cycles process is currently used over all CPUs. It is unclear exactly how this differs from the CPU column because Microsoft's documentation does not explain this. The number in this column is, however, roughly the same as the CPU column, so it is likely that a similar information measured differently.
- Working mode (memory) : The amount of physical memory that the process is currently used.
- Work Set Kit (Memory) : The maximum amount of physical memory that the process has used.
- Working mode delta (memory) : The change in work memory from the latest update of data here.
- Memory (Active Private Work Set) : The amount of physical memory used by the process that cannot be used by other processes. Processes often cache certain data to better utilize your RAM, but can quickly give up the memory space if another process needs it. This column excludes data from suspended UWP processes.
- Memory (Private Work Set) : The amount of physical memory used by the process that cannot be used by other processes. This column does not exclude data from suspended UWP processes.
- Minne (delad arbetsuppsättning) : Mängden fysiskt minne som används av processen som kan användas av andra processer vid behov.
- Kommitstorlek ]: Mängden virtuellt minne Windows reserverar för processen.
- Paged pool : Mängden sidbar kärnminne som Windows-kärnan eller drivrutinerna allokerar för denna process. Operativsystemet kan flytta dessa data till personsökningsfilen när det behövs.
- NP-pool : Mängden icke-sidbart kärnminne som Windows-kärnan eller drivrutinerna tilldelas för denna process. Operativsystemet kan inte flytta denna data till personsökningsfilen.
- Sidfel : Antalet sidfel som genereras av processen sedan det började springa. Dessa inträffar när ett program försöker få åtkomst till det minne som det för närvarande inte har tilldelats till det, och är vanliga.
- PF Delta : Förändringen av antalet sidfel sedan senaste uppdateringen.
- Basprioritet : Processens prioritet, till exempel, kan det vara Låg, Normal eller Hög. Windows prioritizes scheduling processes with higher priorities. System background tasks that aren’t urgent may have low priority compared to desktop program processes, for example.
- Handles: The current number of handles in the process’s object table. Handles represent system resources like files, registry keys, and threads.
- Threads: The number of active threads in a process. Each process runs one or more threads, and Windows allocates processor time to them. Threads in a process share memory.
- User objects: The number of “window manager objects” used by the process. This includes windows, menus, and cursors.
- GDI objects: The number of Graphics Device Interface objects used by the process. These are used for drawing the user interface.
- I/O reads: The number of read operations performed by the process since it started. I/O stands for Input/Output. This includes file, network, and device input/output.
- I/O writes: The number of write operations performed by the process since it started.
- I/O other: The number of non-read and non-write operations performed by the process since it started. For example, this includes control functions.
- I/O read bytes: The total number of bytes read by the process since it started.
- I/O write bytes: The total number of bytes written by the process since it started.
- I/O other bytes: The total number of bytes used in non-read and non-write I/O operations since the process started.
- Image path name: The full path to the process’s executable file.
- Command line: The exact command line the process was launched with, including the executable file and any command-line arguments.
- Operating system context: The minimum operating system the program is compatible with if any information is included in the application’s manifest file. For example, some applications might say “Windows Vista,” some “Windows 7,” and others “Windows 8.1”. Most won’t display anything in this column at all.
- Platform: Whether this is a 32-bit or 64-bit process.
- Elevated: Whether the process is running in elevated mode—in other words, with Administrator—permissions or not. You will see either “No” or “Yes” for each process.
- UAC virtualization: Whether User Account Control virtualization is enabled for the process. This virtualizes the program’s access to the registry and file system, letting programs designed for older versions of Windows run without Administrator access. Options include Enabled, Disabled, and Not Allowed—for processes that require system access.
- Description: A human-readable description of the process from its .exe file. For example, chrome.exe has the description “Google Chrome,” and explorer.exe has the description “Windows Explorer.” This is the same name displayed on the Name column in the normal Processes tab.
- Data execution prevention: Whether Data Execution Prevention (DEP) is enabled or not for the process. This is a security feature that helps protect applications from attacks.
- Enterprise context: On domains, this shows what enterprise context an app is running in. It could be in an enterprise domain context with access to enterprise resources, a “Personal” context without access to work resources, or “Exempt” for Windows system processes.
- Power throttling: Whether power throttling is enabled or disabled for a process. Windows automatically throttles certain applications when you’re not using them to save battery power. You can control which applications are throttled from the Settings app.
- GPU: The percentage of GPU resources used by the process—or, more specifically, the highest utilization across all GPU engines.
- GPU engine: The GPU engine the process is using—or, more specifically, the GPU engine the process is using the most. See the GPU information on the Performance tab for a list of GPUs and their engines. For example, even if you only have one GPU, it likely has different engines for 3D rendering, encoding video, and decoding video.
- Dedicated GPU memory: The total amount of GPU memory the process is using across all GPUs. GPUs have their own dedicated video memory that’s built-in on discrete GPUs and a reserved portion of normal system memory on onboard GPUs.
- Shared GPU memory: The total amount of system memory shared with the GPU the process is using. This refers to data stored in your system’s normal RAM that’s shared with the GPU, not data stored in your GPU’s dedicated, built-in memory.
Working With Services
The Services tab shows a list of the system services on your Windows system. These are background tasks that Windows runs, even when no user account is signed in. They’re controlled by the Windows operating system. Depending on the service, it may be automatically started at boot or only when necessary.
Many services are part of Windows 10 itself. For example, the Windows Update services downloads updates and the Windows Audio service is responsible for sound. Other services are installed by third-party programs. For example, NVIDIA installs several services as part of its graphics drivers.
You shouldn’t mess with these services unless you know what you’re doing. But, if you right-click them, you’ll see options to Start, Stop, or Restart the service. You can also select Search Online to perform a Bing search for information about the service online or “Go to Details” to show the process associated with a running service on the Details tab. Many services will have a “svchost.exe” process associated with them.
The Service pane’s columns are:
- Name: A short name associated with the service
- PID: The process identifier number of the process associated with the service.
- Description: A longer name that provides more information about what the service does.
- Status: Whether the service is “Stopped” or “Running.”
- Group: The group the service is in, if applicable. Windows loads one service group at a time at startup. A service group is a collection of similar services that are loaded as a group.
For more information about these services, click the “Open Services” link at the bottom of the window. This Task Manager pane is just a less powerful services administration tool, anyway.
Process Explorer: A More Powerful Task Manager
If the built-in Windows Task Manager isn’t powerful enough for you, we recommend Process Explorer. This is a free program from Microsoft; it’s part of the SysInternals suite of useful system tools.
Process Explorer is packed with features and information not included in the Task Manager. You can view which program has a particular file open and unlock the file, for example. The default view also makes it easy to see which processes have opened which other processes. Check out our in-depth, multi-part guide to using Process Explorer to learn more.
RELATED: Understanding Process Explorer