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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.

Simultaneously pressing those keys brings up Task Manager.

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.

If you simultaneously press the Windows key and R, a pop-up appears with a “Run” dialog.

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.

You can also use the Star Menu, where Task Manager is hidden but only a few clicks away.

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.

Processes  

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.

Rows are all sortable, and you can select fewer details to see active apps, not background processes.

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.

Performance

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.

Under CPU, you can see your activity as you use your PC.

Memory and HDD show your hard drive’s average response time and capacity.

App History

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.

You can delete the usage history from here, but there’s nothing to manage and no settings to alter.

Startup

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.

If you want to change the settings for any of these programs, select it and then click on Disable or Enable.  

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.

Users

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.

You can also disable a user account from here, provided you have administrative privileges.

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.

The Wrap-Up

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.

How to Open Task Manager on Windows 10 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How can I pin Task Manger to my taskbar?

Use the Start Menu to find Task Manager using the method in our guide, and then right-click and choose more to see the “Pin to Taskbar” option.

Do Macs have a Task Manager?

Yes, it’s called Activity Monitor on Apple computers but has most of the same functions.

Why are there so many programs running in Windows Task Manager?

That could mean you have a lot of unwanted programs running or starting up with your PC when it boots up.

Should I close all background processes?

It’s not a good idea to close anything you don’t recognize because it’s unfamiliar. Instead, use Google to search for the process and find what it’s linked to.

Why isn’t Task Manager opening?

The main reason for this is that you’re not logged in as an administrator or do not have Admin privileges on the PC. If you do have that access, it could be malware or a damaged file in your registry.

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More from History-Computer

  • Microsoft Available here: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/troubleshoot/windows-server/system-management-components/task-manager-disabled-by-administrator
  • Microsoft Available here: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/shows/inside/task-manager
  • Wikipedia Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Task_Manager_(Windows)