How to master the new Task Manager in Windows 8

Task Manager Windows 8

Learn how to use Windows 8’s new Task Manager, from launching the tool to identifying which application is causing your problems, to getting familiar with every options.

The new Task Manager in Windows 8 has been redesigned to be more useful and user-friendly. It’s also packed with many new features, more than in any previous version.  The software giant is not just spending countless hours improving the user interface, but all the aspects of how Windows works under the hood and how users will control the OS as well; one of them is the new awesome Task Manager.

With the Task Manager you have a better view on how the operating system utilizes the PC’s resources; you can control all the apps that run at startup, and you can even now view the network adapter’s IP address. Also there are two modes: the Fewer details (default) view, this will give you a quick glimpse of all apps running in your system and a fast way to close Windows 8 apps and traditional programs. Then there is the More details view, this is a little more advanced, but still really easy to use. The first thing you’ll notice is the new color code that highlight each process and the color becoming more vibrant as the process starts using more system resources.

How to start the Task Manager

Launching the new Task Manager still the same as in previous versions of Windows. You can start it by using the Ctrl+Alt+Del at any time or place, and selecting the name of the utility from the menu.

Task Manager Lock Screen menu

You can use the traditional way by right-clicking the Taskbar and selecting Task Manager.

Taskbar - Task Manager

Or you can just use Ctrl+Shift+Esc keyboard shortcut to dive right into the Windows manager.

Processes — Easy to find applications

By default, the first time you start the Task Manager, it will start in the Fewer details view with the minimal information, and you will only see which applications are currently running in the system (no menus or complicated details). Microsoft made a big improvement on making it easier for the user to find and close any app. For example, now applications have meaningful names and icons that can help you identify those apps faster. The utility will always list traditional desktop programs and the new Windows 8 apps.

Task Manager Fewer details - Windows 8

Clicking on the More details button, will get you inside of the advanced view with a lot more information about applications, system performance, services, network information and much more. You’ll notice that now processes are group together depending on their relation (Apps, Background Processes, and Windows Processes) when compare to the old version. The resources are colored for each process and it will get darker as they consume more system resources.

Quick Tip: If you double-click any of the listed Windows 8 app, you will open it.

Apps with multiple open windows can be expanded to view each process that a particular app is running.

Task Manager - More details (Advanced)

To get more information you can right-click each process and a new menu will show several actions that you can use, such as Search online which when selected it will do an Internet search with the computer’s default search engine, or Properties, this option will open up the properties of the process giving you useful information about it.

Performance — System resources statistics

The Performance tab shows the new redesigned system statistics (line graphs). The tool will show CPU, Memory, Disk(s), Wi-Fi, and Ethernet performance. Click any of the elements on the left to view more information — This section can give you a great overview and find where system is having a high load.

Performance - Task Manager - Windows 8

This time around you can even view your system IP address (IPv4 and IPv6) without having to jump around the OS or using the Command Prompt.

Network - Task Manager - Windows 8

If you are looking for even more information, you can click the Open Resources Monitor, right next to Fewer details button. Resource Monitor provides a more comprehensive set of information that can help you to see and control how your system resources are being used by processes and services — This tool hasn’t been updated from previous versions of Windows, but it does give a hand full of data.

Resource Monitor - Windows 8

App History — Analyzing Metro style apps

In the App History section you can view how much CPU time, network bandwidth used and tile info updates of the Windows Store apps you used. This will give you a glimpse to find out if an app is misbehaving and get data on how much bandwidth an app is using when you are using a metered network (data cap).

App History - Task Manager - Windows 8

Startup — Start up Windows faster

In the past, it wasn’t easy for users to identify and control which application loaded at the startup. The only way was by configuring the msconfig, which wasn’t obvious for every user, or by using a third-party software. Now in Windows 8, Task Manager can also handle your Startup applications. Additionally, you can see if various apps are enabled or disabled on startup, and how long each application impacts Windows startup.

Startup - Task Manager - Windows 8

Users — Account breakdown

In the Users section will list all the users currently signed in and which resources each account is using.

Quick Tip: If more that one user is signed in, you can select any other user, click Disconnect to log that user out and gain more system resources.

Users - Task Manager - Windows 8

Details — Advanced processes view

Details is the Processes’ section in Task Manager from Windows 7. It will give you a list of all processes in use on the system. A difference from the previous version of the Task Manager, this version doesn’t allow you to add more columns to view more information, but now it displays icons to help identify the process and the Status column will tell you if the process is running or is in the suspended state.

By right-clicking you can get access to a contextual menu with several useful options like Set priority, Set affinity (useful when running Windows with multiple CPU cores), access to the Services, and more.

Details - Task Manager - Windows 8

Services — The lighter version

The Services tab is another addition to the new Task Manger in Windows 8. It is a lighter version of the Windows Services tool and includes a quick of all the services on the system, plus you have the ability to start or stop any service, or open it with the full version of the tool.

Services - Task Manager - Windows 8

Lastly, from the Task Manager menu, you can get access to the Run command and depending in which tab you are on, from the View menu you are going to have available different options (e.g., Expand all, Collapse all, Status values, etc.).

The Task Manager has been a great help for users since the beginning of Windows. Now not only advanced users will be able to use it, but average users as well. This new version brings great improvements in the totally redesigned user interface and many new features that will make anyone’s life easier.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].