Thursday, April 7, 2011

Using Task Manager

When Task Manager is first opened the dialog box shown below appears. It has four tabs. There is also a Users tab if you are using Fast User Switching. The default tab "Applications" is a list of the applications that are running in the foreground. These are programs that you can see on the desktop or on the taskbar and that are not running hidden in the background.

All the tab windows have information at the bottom showing the number of processes that are running, how much the CPU is being used, and how much memory resources are committed. The Applications window also has a button "New Task" in the lower right corner.

A common use for Task Manager is to end a program that has become frozen or hung. Select an application and click the button "End Task". Another way is to right-click on a program entry, which brings up the context menu shown below. It includes an entry "End Task". There is also an entry "Go to Process" that will take you to the actual process that is running a selected program. A new window will open listing all the processes.

The dialog box for processes will also open when the tab "Processes" is selected. A much larger group appears that includes many background services. Here, you can see how much memory and CPU time each process takes. This information can be enlightening and can help you decide if something is causing your computer to slow down. Processes can be ended either by a right-click menu or the button "End Process" that is in the lower right corner of the dialog box.

CPU and memory usage can vary over a substantial range. The "Performance" tab allows graphs of usage to be seen. An example is shown below. This can be useful in tracking down resource hogs.

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