Windows 8 has the best built-in Task Manager yet, but even Windows 7′s Task Manager is a powerful tool that every Windows user should familiarize themselves with. Many of these tasks are easier on Windows 8.
Opening the Task Manager
Windows lets you get to the Task Manger in a variety of ways:
- Keyboard Shortcut: Press Ctrl+Shift+Escape anywhere in Windows.
- Mouse Shortcut: Right-click the Windows taskbar and select Start Task Manager.
- Traditional Method: Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and select Start Task Manager.
On Windows 7, the Task Manger opens to the Applications tab, which lists open applications and allows you to quickly close them with the End Task button. This works even if they have frozen and aren’t responding.
This tab doesn’t allow you to view resource usage. It also doesn’t show every program running on your computer — programs running in the background without visible windows aren’t listed here.
Click the CPU or Memory heading to sort the processes by their CPU or memory usage. This will show you which programs are using the most CPU time and amount of RAM.
If an process is misbehaving — for example, you may have closed a PC game and it continued running in the background, possibly using 99% of your CPU — sorting by CPU and memory usage will show you the misbehaving process consuming too many resources at the top of the list. Right-click the process and select End Process to close it if you can’t close it normally.
Click over to the Performance tab to view your computer’s total CPU and physical memory (RAM) usage. The CPU usage history graph shows total CPU usage as well as separate graphs for each CPU’s usage over time, while the Memory graph shows you total memory usage and how your memory usage has changed over time.
View System Network Activity
If you’re having problems with your Internet connection — maybe web pages are loading slowly or your voice is dropping out while you’re talking to someone on Skype or a similar VoIP program — you may want to check your computer’s total network usage. You can do this from the Networking tab in the Task Manager.
You’ll see a separate graph for each of your computer’s network adapters, which will inform you how much of your network’s resources the programs on your computer are consuming. This allows you to see whether there are any programs running in the background and saturating your network connection.
If you can see that your network connection is being used, you may want to know which applications are using the network. To see a list of processes accessing the network and how much network resources they’re each using, click over to the Performance tab and click the Resource Monitor button.
Check Per-Process Disk Activity
With the Resource Monitor opened from the Performance tab in the Task Manager, you can also click the Disk tab and see which programs are reading and writing to your disk the most. If your hard drive is grinding away, this tool will show you which programs are taking up all your disk resources.
Manage Startup ProgramsOn Windows 8, you can use the Startup tab in the Task Manager to control which programs automatically start with your computer.