NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, December 2008
Window Pains – Task Manager
By Bob Balogh, President, Boca Raton Computer Society, Florida
helpbrcs(at)yahoo.com (click to email author)

Obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups.

Task Manager is a helpful application that is part of the Windows Operating System (2000, XP & Vista). You can open it with the three fingered salute – Ctrl/Alt/Delete, or more easily, my preferred way, by a right click on an open space on your Taskbar, and clicking on Task Manager. You may also open Task Manager by going to Start-Run and entering "taskmgr" (without the quotes).

Most of us have only experienced dealing with the Task Manager when a program no longer seems to be functioning. We then open the Task Manager and click on the Applications Tab, see the list of running programs, and highlight the program we are having difficulty with, then click on “End Task” at the bottom of the page. Voila, the program is shutdown and is no longer causing you a problem. Of course, you still will want to find out why the problem began or why the program froze in the first place. However, that is for another time.

You can also click on the “Processes” tab, to see exactly which programs are running in the background.

Go on open yours up and see what is running. Here is part of mine:

Of course all these programs do not have to run. In fact while many of these programs are useful and are needed others are not needed and may at times cause problems. The problem is what determining what these programs do. Even if you are not inclined to stop any of these programs it is a step forward to know what these programs do so at least you have an idea as to what may be causing a particular problem when it arises.

To see a list of most of the possible programs that are running in the background just go to this web site http://www.answersthatwork.com/Tasklist_pages/tasklist.htm and peruse the programs from A-Z. Well, you don’t have to look at all of them, just the ones you have listed in your Task Manager.

Remember, all the programs, that are listed in your Task Manager, may not be listed at “Answers that Work”. Why you might ask? Well, just look at my list and you will see a program listed called SnagIt32.exe. That is a program that I added to my computer, and use often.

Actually, it is the program I used to create the picture of the Task Manager above. So it is listed, since it was still “running”, when I made the screen capture. Could I turn it off? Sure, all I have to do is close the program.

If you want to turn off a program that is running in Task Manager, don't change, or disable it in the Windows Task Manager. Instead, go to the Control Panel | Administrative Tools | Services, and change them there.

Double click on the entry, and change it from the dropdown list where it says "Startup Type". Carefully read what it does, and what it is related to, before making a decision. Write down what you changed, in the event you wish to change it back.

If you have System Restore or Go Back operating, write down the date and time, in case you want to return to an earlier time, when all was well. Additionally, set a new restore point, prior to doing anything. If the service isn't listed in there, then more than likely it was added by an application you added after the install. You'll need to decide if it's necessary, or if you only want it running when you decide. There also comes a time when a particular program “freezes” and is not functioning as we mentioned at the outset of the article. What should you do? Simply use Ctrl+Alt+Delete, open the Task Manager, and simply close down the program by selecting it and clicking on “End Task”. The following figure demonstrates it for you:

The Performance tab displays an overview of your computer's performance, including graphs for CPU and memory usage as well as the total number of processes running. Google such other items displayed if you are interested in the purpose they serve. I do not wish to get too technical here.

The remaining tabs, Networking and Users are basically self explanatory. If you are running a home network it will show up under Networking and inform you of it function ability. As far as Users is concerned you will see a list of those using your computer.

Peruse the headings in the toolbar (top), just to get an idea of what they are and do. Of course the Help tab, as usual, is the most important in explaining the program at hand. Use it and you will learn much.

This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).

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