Guide to Windows XP Task Manager Part I

Ever had a program freeze on you that refuses to close or disappear? One annoying problem is when a poorly written application crashes and refuses to be shut down. Or maybe you’ve noticed that your computer is suddenly running very slow, but there’s no clear indication as to why? In that case, you might have a process running on your system that is hogging all of the CPU time or taking up loads of memory.

Well, the Windows Task Manager can help you out in some of these situations to help determine the cause and completely kill the problem application. First off, the purpose of the task manger is to provide computer performance information along with details about currently running programs and processes. It also provides the ability to monitor your network traffic if you are connected to a network.

So let’s get started with learning about this very useful tool in Windows XP. You can get to the Task Manager in a few ways:

1. Press Ctrl + Shift + ESC one after the other while holding the keys down. Just like you would do Ctrl + Alt + Delete, which I think most people have done by now.

2. The other way is to press the second key combination mentioned above, Ctrl + Alt + Delete, and then on the menu pressing the “Task Manger” button. This button is usually the middle button on the second row.

Now you should see the Task Manager dialog on your computer screen. This window by default stays on top of everything else, so you it’s kinda hard to miss!

windows xp task manager

You’ll see that there are five tabs across the top: Applications, Processes, Performance, Networking and Users. Let’s go through each one in detail.

Applications Tab

This will be your favorite tab when it comes to killing a program that has crashed or is frozen. The Applications tab will list any of the programs that you currently running on the system. The programs shown here are usually the programs that you see on your task bar at the bottom of the screen.

So what you can do here is to click on a particular application and choose either End Task, Switch To, or New Task. Switch To does nothing more than just bring that application to the front of all other windows. New Task is for starting up another program, but is not useful for most users. Of course if you want to kill the program, choose End Task and you’ll usually get a popup dialog saying something like “The program is not responding, do you want to end now?“. In this case, click End Now.

end program

This will more than likely solve 90% of your problems. In the rare event that using end task does not work, you can right click on the program and choose “Go to process“.

go to process

This is where the Processes tab comes into play. As you can see, we are now looking at all the processes running on the computer and there are a lot more here than what you see listed on the Applications tab.

windows xp processes

By default, it will highlight the process whenever you use the Go to process option. You can now try to kill the program by clicking on End Process. Check out Part II of this series on Windows XP Task Manager to learn about the processes tab. Enjoy!