Here’s how to navigate the Task Manager software tool

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Q: I’m relatively new to Windows and want to understand when and where I should use the Task Manager utility.

A: Windows Task Manager is a very useful troubleshooting tool that starts by showing you what’s running and its potential impact on your computer’s performance.

It’s also a great tool to see if something has stopped responding and force it to stop.

You can open the Task Manager by right-clicking the “Start” icon and selecting it from the menu or by pressing “Ctrl+Shift+Esc” on your keyboard.

There are so many things this tool can do, so I will focus on some of the basics.

BeginThe default screen is the “Processes” page, which will show you what’s running separated vertically by “Applications”, “Background Processes”, and “Windows Processes”.

Each item listed will have a horizontal series of technical readings that will show CPU, Memory, Disk, Network, and GPU usage in percentage.

These technical categories are useful when trying to determine how much memory a program can use or which applications are taking up most of your processing power (CPU).

Browser memory testTabbed browsing has changed the way we all use the internet, but being able to open so many tabs has the downside of consuming your working memory, which can lead to performance issues.

Task Manager is a great way to compare how much memory two different browsers use when you open your most used web pages.

Restart your computer so that no applications are running, then open each browser you want to test with the exact same web pages, then open task manager.

Your browsers will be listed in alphabetical order, but if you want to see which one is using the most memory, click your mouse on the “Memory” header to re-sort based on highest memory usage .

When you’re in descending view mode, you’ll see a small down arrow appear next to the read percentage in the “Memory” header. If your computer is having performance issues, sorting the list may take a second or two.

When you see a significant difference in memory usage, you can choose the browser that uses the least memory, especially if you’re a “taboo!”

Stopping programsWhen you come across a situation where a program stops responding, you can use the task manager to stop it.

Simply right-click on the application and click “End Task” to close it.

What loads on startup?A major impact on your computer’s overall performance is the number of programs and processes that load at startup.

To see what is currently autoloading and the potential impact each item may have, click on the “Startup” tab.

When troubleshooting, it’s useful to disable an item that would normally load at startup by right-clicking it, selecting “Disable” and restarting the computer.

It’s easy enough to see programs you don’t want loaded on startup, but if you don’t recognize something, it’s best to leave it running until you find out exactly what it does.

There’s so much more this awesome tool can do, so if you want to dive deeper, check out this great online overview.

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