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Use the Task Manager in Windows 7

The Task Manager

The Task Manager can be accessed by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc, or by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del and choosing Task Manager. In Windows 7, it’s where you can see CPU usage, memory usage, check on running programs, and remove tasks that are stuck. It’s extremely useful for keeping Windows 7 running smoothly throughout the day. Let’s cover each tab in the Task Manager.

Illustration: Gordon McAlpin


All of your open Windows applications are listed here. You can right click on any application to end it. This is an extremely slow process if the application is not responding, forcing to search for that app’s processes in the next tab.

The Applications tab is where you control individual Windows apps.


These are all the processes associated with Windows and with each open application. Often there are multiple processes for each application. If an app freezes up, you can right click on each of that app’s processes from here and end them.


These are Windows services that help Windows function. The one you’re going to want to be familiar with is the Print Spooler. If your printer ever gets stuck, right click on Print Spooler and click Stop Service, then Start Service. This will clear the queue and allow you to print again.


Performance lets you keep track of how much CPU and memory is being used by Windows and your applications. CPU usage is listed as a percentage, while memory usage is less than or equal to the total amount of memory in your PC. If you see CPU usage maxing out or memory maxing out, it might be time to end an app or process that’s causing the issue.

The Performance tab is where you check on CPU and memory usage.


This screen lets you see all the various networks your PC is connected to, real and virtual, and how much your PC is using that network.


If there are multiple users logged in to your PC, you can see them all from here. If you’re the administrator, you can even log off individual users from here.

Master the Task Manager

Mastering the Task Manager will go a long way toward a headache-free PC experience.

Steve Horton

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