If you’ve ever had a program on your Windows 10 PC go haywire, you probably understand how vital Task Manager is. It’s been a staple on Windows systems since Windows 95, but there are more ways to access it today. This guide shows you how to open Task Manager on Windows 10 and discusses what to do if Task Manager is disabled.
What is Windows Task Manager?
Task Manager is a system program that allows you to shut down or terminate any process on your PC. Those who use Windows a lot are probably familiar with it.
If you install a new game or app that causes issues with your system, you can use Task Manager to kill the app and address the issue. It’s helpful when a program becomes unresponsive, causes your PC to freeze, and even allows you to reboot it.
Being able to stop a program instantly that’s freezing up your computer is priceless, but that’s not the only thing Windows Task Manager can do. It gives you an overview of your PC’s performance at any given time. This allows you to check and see how your PC is running in real-time, but you can also see and access services, active users, app history, and the programs that boot on startup.
There are two ways to do this, starting with the traditional method. We’ll tell you how to navigate task manager and what each section does.
Ways to Open Windows 10
The easiest way to access Windows Task Manager is through key combinations.
Press the Control, Alt, and Delete
When you press those keys, you’re taken to a new screen with options for Lock, Switch User, Sign Out, or Task Manager. Select Task Manager, and you’ll see a window similar to the one below.
In some cases, this method could be blocked or disabled during gameplay. If those keys don’t work, you can press Control, Shift and Escape at the same time to bring up Task Manager.
Use command and Windows Key
Another workaround is using a command and the Windows key on your keyboard. You can type taskmgr into that box, which brings up the program.
We recommend this video directly from Acer to see a live demonstration of how to open Task Manager.
Open Task Manager with the Start Menu
Click on the Start Menu button and scroll through the list of applications until you see a folder labeled Windows System. Select that folder, and you’ll see an icon for the Task Manager, which you can click to open the program.
How to Use Windows Task Manager in Windows 10
Once you know how to open Task Manager, you can shut down a program with a few clicks, but that isn’t all you can do. The program has six sections: Processes, Performance, App History, Startup, Users, Details, and Services.
When you want to shut down an app misbehaving in Windows 10, you’ll do it from the Processes tab in Task Manager. Once you open the program, follow these steps.
1. Locate the Program
With Task Manager open, scroll through the list until you see the application you need to close. If your PC is bogged down, you can click on the CPU or Memory sections to sort the columns and find any memory hogs.
2. End Task
Select the app or background process you want to end and click on End Task, which should immediately end the program and remove it from the list.
Unfortunately, you can’t select multiple programs at once in Windows Task Manager. You’ll need to repeat these steps to kill more than one application.
Curious about how your system is running in real-time? You can check those statistics at any time from the Performance section of Task Manager.
Here you’ll see several areas which will vary depending on the configuration of your PC. We have CPU, Memory, Disk 0, Disk 1, and Wi-Fi, in this case. Clicking on each section provides information on that area. In our SSD section for Disk 1, you’ll notice no activity as it’s used for booting up the PC.
Memory and HDD show your hard drive’s average response time and capacity.
The App History section provides details on app usage across a period of time on your PC. Data for this area includes CPU time, tile updates, and network usage. CPU time shows how much time your system spent accessing specific applications, while Tile Updates is self-explanatory. Depending on your setup, the network section includes data for metered and unmetered connections.
As the name implies, Startup is where you’ll find programs starting when you first turn on your PC. It details the program, publisher, and each startup program’s current status. You can also check the impact these programs have on your PC, if any.
You can see several services that were disabled in this screenshot, including iTunes Helper, Microsoft Edge, and Phone Link. Others are essential processes for this PC.
This section won’t be useful if you are the only person using your PC. When you share a computer with other people, it’s a different story, however.
The Users section shows anyone that has a user account on your PC. It also shows you which programs they can access and how those affect your system in real-time. There’s a number next to the account name, and the drop-down menu will show all those applications.
When open, you can use this area to end a running process on the PC.
Details & Services
Under the Details tab of Task Manager, you’ll see a list of processes running on your PC along with data like the account name and memory usage. Unless you know what you’re doing, it’s a good idea to steer clear of this section which allows you to kill tasks under the Processes section. Simply put, Details provides a more in-depth look at what’s happening with specific programs behind the scenes.
Want to stop or restart a service on your PC? You can do that from Services on the Task Manager. While you’ll see a lot of data here and can access the Services menu in Windows 10, this is another area you need to be careful with. Antivirus services are found here, and for plug-and-play devices and networking services.
If you want to end a service, right-click to access the submenu where you can alter the settings for that service. You can also select Open Services from the bottom of the screen to open that section in a new window.
Using and opening Task Manager on Windows 10 is simple, and the application is incredibly useful once you know your way around. If you plan to use Task Manager frequently, it’s a good idea to add it to your desktop or pin it to the taskbar for easier access.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©monticello/Shutterstock.com.