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Windows 7 Task Manager – Processes

Posted – in: Maintain

Windows 7 Process Tab

For a more detailed view of your running programs, windows processes and background apps, check the Processes tab. This is perhaps the most useful tool you can use when it comes to solving computer performance problems. I tried to show the entire list of bloat (err…necessary programs), but my screen couldn’t even fit it in. This isn’t quite the default Windows 7 set of processes as I’ve put a few other applications on since installing, so don’t be worried if I have something you don’t.

In case it is unchecked, hit the “Show processes from all users” checkbox and you might find a few other processes that weren’t showing before. We can do quite a lot from here, it just takes a little interpretation.

Image Name – this is the actual application name. This used to be all we would get up until XP, but Vista and 7 have added a nice little Description column to the right hand side. Now you can actually tell what the program is without knowing every .exe name off by heart.

I’m running the 64-bit version of Windows 7 in this case, which is why you see some applications have *32 written after their names. This simply means that they are running in 32-bit mode, where anything else is in glorious 64 bit luxury.

User Name – on this test PC my account is called Billy for some reason – those are programs I have loaded up. The System account is a user account, only you can’t login with it and it has full access to the system. It generally runs things that Windows needs to run, even without someone actually logged in. Network and Local Service accounts are very similar, only they aren’t user accounts, they’re service accounts. Nothing to worry about for most people.

CPU – This shows you how much processing power each individual application is using right now. The higher the number, the more it is using. You can click the word CPU at the top of the column (or any other column) and sort by highest usage. This will make the whole list jump around as different apps request more or less CPU power, so it might be a bit harder to use that way.

As in the applications tab, you can right-click on any program and close it (End Process). This is not advised unless you actually know what you are closing, but then it won’t make your PC explode. Some are Windows processes that can break features such as networking, others might prompt the system to shut down instantly as a security measure. Either way, all will be restored with a restart. Ending a process tree is similar, but closes other applications that the app in question also started – but it doesn’t always work. I just go through one at a time doing the normal End Task.

Worth Noting: There is one process that will probably throw you – the System Idle Process. Basically, ignore it. When you system is idle it will be up to 98 or 99%, but that’s fine – that is the way it is meant to be. If you have any other program hogging a huge percentage of your CPU power then focus on closing that one, not the System Idle Process.

Memory (Private Working Set) – In a nutshell this is the amount of RAM each process is using. It’s not entirely true and you can put another column in which shows a more accurate figure (see below). Again, click the top of the column to sort with the highest at the top (click it again if it sorts the wrong way around).

How to get the most from the processes tab Go to the View menu and choose Select Columns. In here you can customize the columns that are shown in the processes tab.

Process Tab Options

I find that Memory – Working Set is better and more accurate to have on than Memory – Private Working Set. I also change the Image Path Name to Command Line (scroll down to find it). This is especially useful for things such as svchost.exe, which runs many different processes under one application. By adding in the Command Line rather than Path Name, we can differentiate between the different versions that are running, as shown below. Here you can see how each one is in fact running a different process, otherwise all called svchost.exe

Command Line Task Manager

In general if you close anything in Task Manager, it will load again next time you reboot, if it is set to do so. To set whether some of these Windows services load at boot-up, we should check the next tab – Services.

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Windows 7 Task Manager – Applications

Posted – in: Maintain

Windows 7 Task Manager Applications Tab

The Applications tab pretty much shows you what you see in your taskbar at the bottom of the screen.

I’ve got a folder open with pictures in, Firefox browsing a brilliant PC advice website ;), Skype, eBay Turbo Lister, TweetDeck and LiveWriter that I’m using now. I’ve also got 7 buttons in my taskbar for the items above (Task Manager itself not showing up in this list)

When something crashes, you can check here to see if it says “Not responding…”. If it appears to have hung, namely no response after 30-60 seconds, just hit end task down at the bottom.

Occasionally you can’t get back to a window you were on for some reason. If it shows up in this list, clicking “Switch To” might bring it into focus.

The New Task button is the same as the run dialog – application names can be put in here to fire them up. About the only real use for this is when your explorer.exe has crashed and you get nothing but a black screen. Open Task Manager and run explorer.exe and all should come back to life.

For a more detailed view of all the programs running at once, you need to view the Processes tab, a guide on which is in the next post.

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Windows 7 and Vista Task Manager – A Complete Guide

Posted – in: Maintain

Windows gives us a great way to see what is going on inside the PC in real time. A quick glance shows which programs are running and how much memory and CPU power they are using. Very similar to Vista’s Task Manager, Windows 7 gives us more features than XP and Windows 2000 allowed us. Let’s get in there and have a look at it.

Ways to start the Task Manager..

  • Right click on your Taskbar at the bottom of the screen and choose Start Task Manager
  • Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete. This only brings up a menu; it doesn’t force a reboot these days
  • Use the keyboard shortcut for it – Ctrl+Shift+Esc
  • From the run dialog (Windows key + R), then type taskmgr and press enter
  • From the Start menu. Hit the Windows key alone and type “taskm” Before bothering with the “gr” at the end, Windows finds it instantly. Either choose taskmgr.exe or there is also an option to “View running processes with Task Manager”

A quick tip for the first time you open Task Manager – go to the options menu and un-tick “Always on Top”. This always bugs me on a fresh install of Windows.

Here’s what Task Manager looks like

Windows 7 Task Manager

You get the normal menu bar along the top edge offering a few options.

Under that you have 6 tabs. Shown is the performance tab, giving an overview of the processor and memory usage.

Task Manager is a great tool for me when I go to fix other people’s computers. To start with, Task Manager is always installed, so Internet or not, I can always use it. Next, you can see so much about what is going wrong with a computer, you barely need anything else to diagnose problems.

See the next few posts for more details on getting the most from the Windows 7 Task Manager

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Who and What is a Cornish Nerd

Posted – in: How-to Guides

Hi everyone!

I figured it was time to start blogging. I am constantly reciting the same old tutorials to my clients, family and friends so I thought why not get them all online to help as many people as possible.

Let’s start at the beginning I suppose. I’m Tom. I live in Cornwall, England. Yes, I’m also a nerd! I love messing around with computers, doing all sorts of things with them. It’s now been more than 15 years since I ripped apart someone else’s computer and successfully put it back together again. I’ve since done what can only be described as a plethora of different work relating to computers. I’ve been self-employed for a few years now, mainly fixing local computers and building websites. A couple of years back I also went back to college for a bit to work on some Microsoft qualifications. Currently a Microsoft Certified Professional and Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician. I might do some more exams in the future but it’s not 100% relevant to where I’m going really.

I am constantly improving myself and have been on a learning mission for years. The end of formal education was the beginning of my practical learning. I like to read, and that I have certainly done. Whenever I get stuck, I head to Google. And from there it never ends…. I’m a bit like Johnny 5 (other than the robotic form lol!) in that I want more and more information!

As you’ll hopefully get to see over the coming posts, I’m keen to help anyone get to grips with their computer, make the most of it and in general get it to do what it says on the tin.

If you have any ideas for a post, problem you have or any tips about anything I’ve written, please feel free to email me or leave a comment on the site.

Cheers for now!

Tom, aka the Cornish Nerd

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