A+: Task Manager

Task Manager gives a useful real-time inside Windows and running programs. Launch it by:

    • {Ctrl-Shift-Esc}

    • Right-click on the taskbar, select Task Manager

    • Open the Run prompt and type taskmgr

    • {Ctrl-Alt-Del} then choose Task Manager from the Windows Security dialog box. (In Windows XP, this requires turning off the Welcome Screen option.)

Tabs include Applications (shows running applications); Processes (program components in memory); Performance (CPU, memory, pagefile, and caching stats). XP added a Networking tab (lists network utilization by adapter in use) and a Users tab (lists current users). Vista added a Services tab (displays the services on the computer and their status).

The Applications tab shows if a program has stopped responding; you can shut down these programs by using the End Task button. Use the Processes tab to see which processes are consuming the most memory. Use this dialog along with the System Configuration Utility (MSConfig) to help determine if you are loading unnecessary startup applications; MSConfig can disable them to free up memory.

If you are unable to shut down a program with the Applications tab, you can also shut down its processes with the Processes tab, but this is not recommended unless the program cannot be shut down in any other way.

Use the Performance tab to determine whether you need to install more RAM memory or need to increase your paging file size. Use the Networking tab to monitor the performance of your network.

The top-level menu can be used to adjust the properties of the currently selected tab and to shut down the system.