To bring up the Task Manager, press “CTL SHIFT ESC” or right-click on the taskbar and select Task Manager. Most folks never get past the wee Task Manager window you see now — and this is all you need if you’re just looking to kill an app that’s locked up your system. Just click and highlight the app that’s locked up, and hit the End Task button, or right-click it and select End Task. Boom… the app that locked your system up gets killed off, and now you can get on with your computing.
By the way, when you’re right-clicking, know that checking Always on Top keeps the Task Manager on top of your other windows. It doesn’t keep, say, Chrome, Microsoft Word, Foobar 2000, or any other aap on top, though.
Ready to get to the cool stuff? Click on the arrow next to More Details on the bottom of the Task Manger window. It will get substantially bigger, and you’ll have a lot more to play with!
The first tab, Processes, lists everything running on your machine. Wondering what’s using all your CPU power? Click on the CPU tab so the arrow is pointing down, and you’ll see what’s eating your CPU from the biggest user on down. Right-click on that tap bar, the one with name/cpu/memory/disk, and you can add additional columns of information. The Command Line shows you where the .exe for the app lives, while Publish tells you who wrote it.
See something called “reallyweirdprocess that doesn’t have a name I’m famliar with is that malware or a virus?” Just right-click on that process and select search online. More often than not, it’ll be a background process or app associated with a another piece of software on your machine.
If Windows is behaving oddly — hey, it happens — scroll down the list of processes until you find Windows Explorer. Then, select Restart. This tool is there to relaunch Windows when your other apps are just fine. That said, if you’re doing this a lot, might be time to reinstall Windows!
The Startup tab lists every app that launches when you boot Windows. Startup Impact — graded as None, Low, Medium, or High — lets you which apps slow down the booting process. Simply right-click and disable the app if you want to stop it from automatically starting up. Just remember, if you disable something like Dropbox, you’ll have to launch is manually or it won’t be running in the background to sync your files!
Speaking of speeding up Windows, you’ve also got a Performance tab that tracks CPU, Memory, Disk, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth (if you’re running it). The tab will tell you how much CPU or Memory is being used, along with information regarding what CPU you’re running, the clock frequency, and how many cores your machine has among other tidbits of info.
Need to share the info for troubleshooting, or to show the boss you really are maxing out your machine? Right-click and select Copy to obtain a snapshot of your info that you can send in an email or over Slack.
Also, if you want to get your networking geek on, right-click and select View Network Details when you’re in Wi-Fi or Ethernet to get a real-time look at your network utilization, link speed, and other info.