Your PC has just crashed again. But wait a second before you hit Ctrl-Alt-Del and reboot the machine. I realise that rebooting is the go-to solution when a program won't shut down, or the system starts dragging or acting wonky, but there is another way. The Task Manager is a powerful tool for troubleshooting and resolving issues in Windows 7.

Task Manager lets you view the programs, processes, and services currently running on the PC. You can use Task Manager to monitor your computer's performance, and to close a program that is not responding, view network status, and see which users are connected to the PC.

You can have many applications open at once in Windows 7 - limited only by the available memory and processor capacity of the PC. But what you see is a little like watching a duck on a pond. On the surface it seems to calmly glide along, while under the water its feet are furiously paddling away. Generally, Windows does an awesome job of prioritising and managing all of the underlying processes and services, but every so often something goes awry. That is when you need to dive into Task Manager.

Starting Task Manager

To begin with, you have to open up Task Manager. You have a few different ways to do this.

  • Press Ctrl-Shift-Esc.
  • Press Ctrl-Alt-Del, and then select Start Task Manager.
  • Click Start, type 'task manager' in search bar and press Enter.
  • Right-click anywhere on the task bar and select Start Task Manager.

Use any of the above techniques, and you will open up the Task Manager console.

Vital information at a glance

At the bottom of the Task Manager window - no matter which tab you happen to be viewing - is a sort of dashboard view that displays the current number of running processes, the percentage of the processor capacity being used, and the percentage of physical memory. The information displayed here can instantly let you know if a process or application is consuming all of the CPU or memory resources, which is your first clue for troubleshooting a problem.

NEXT PAGE: Task Manager tabs

  1. Use Task Manager rather than rebooting
  2. Task Manager tabs
  3. Applications tab
  4. Processes tab
  5. Services tab