How to use the task manager (and when to use it)
Although computers are prevalent in many aspects of our lives, how many people know how to use them? Less than you may think. 69% of the population can only perform basic tasks such as opening a recent email or surfing the web.
But the more you know, the more you can get out of your computer. No matter who you are, you should know how to use Task Manager. This diagnostic tool can help you locate and solve both hardware and software issues.
This is to say that you will not only have a better user experience, but you can even prolong the lifespan of your computer. Of course, even if you know how to navigate to Task Manager, that doesn’t mean you know how to use it to its fullest potential. Let’s take a deep dive into the functions of the Windows Task Manager.
1. How to Use Task Manager
Whenever you notice performance issues plaguing your computer, it’s a good idea to launch the Task Manager. This should be your first action whenever a program freezes. But we’ll talk more about that later in this guide.
First, you should know how to access Task Manager in the first place. Most people are familiar with the ctrl-alt-delete method.
By using the control-alt-delete shortcut on your keyboard, you’ll access your computer’s start menu. Located on this list of account options, you’ll find Task Manager. Click on this option to open up the Task Manager browser.
Advanced users know you can open the Task Manager without accessing the start menu. Simply hold ctrl-shift-esc and the Task Manager window will appear.
If you’re a Mac user, you’ll be disappointed to learn that the Windows Task Manager isn’t available on these devices. The good news is that Apple has included a comparable tool known as the Activity Monitor. The functions and shortcuts are slightly different, so you’ll want a different guide to put you in the right direction.
Learn more about the task manager Mac equivalent.
2. Understanding the Simple Task Manager View
If you’ve never touched the Task Manager on this computer, you’ll first see its simple view. On the simple version, you’ll find a list of active applications.
Most users access the Task Manager to disable a program that has stopped responding. To do so, select the program listed on the Task Manager and click the End Task button on the bottom-right of the window. This will disable the application.
With the simple view, you’ll also be able to prioritize Task Manager or the programs listed. Right-click any application and select Always On Top if you want Task Manager to stay visible even while selecting other applications. This can be useful when your computer runs multiple applications at one time.
You can select the Switch To command in the right-click menu. This will open up the window corresponding with the application.
There’s one last function worth mentioning. While the simple view of Task Manager is open, you can find your computer resource allocation in the notification bar. That’s accessible in the bottom-right corner of your taskbar on Windows 10.
Here you’ll find a rundown on your computer’s CPU, memory, disk, and network usage. Numbers that fluctuate near 100% often indicate a software or hardware problem. Accessing the more detailed version of Task Manager can help you locate the cause.
3. Making Sense of the Advanced Task Manager View
The simple view is handy in a pinch. But for anything more than disabling a troublesome application, you want the entire Task Manager suite. To access the true power of the Task Manager, select the More Details button on the bottom of the simple window.
You’ll now see Task Manager has a massive list of applications, processes, and tabs. On the Processes tab is a list of everything running in the background of your computer. On the right, Task Manager will display processes which are utilizing computer resources.
If you want to watch computer resources fluctuate over time, access the Performance tab. Here you’ll find constantly updating graphs related to your computer resource utilization. This can help you detect software issues as they happen.
For example, some applications have something known as a memory leak. Normally, applications will release system memory when it’s no longer being used. But applications with memory leaks will continue to hog memory until it’s utilizing everything on your device.
By embracing the Performance tab in conjunction with the application, you should notice a steadily increasing curve on the memory graph.
The Startup tab is arguably the most important for the average user. Ever wonder why certain programs start as soon as you turn on your computer? That’s because they’ve been told to.
For computers with limited resources or those that use HDDs, the start-up process can take several minutes. By disabling startup programs, you’ll reduce the load on your computer and help it get into gear faster. To do so, simply select a program you don’t need and click the Disable button.
Master the Task Manager
No matter who you are, you’ve no doubt experienced computer or software problems from time to time. That’s why it’s important to know how to use Task Manager. Not only is it a simple program to understand, but it offers diagnostic help when things go awry.
Record the keyboard shortcut to your memory or just type the tool’s name into the Windows search bar. The next time something seems fishy, the Task Manager is there for you.
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