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Article Number: 000139671

How to Use Task manager in Windows 7 on your Dell PC

Summary: This article is a guide using the Task Manager utility in the Windows 7 operating system on your Dell PC.

Article Content



This article provides information on what task manager is and how it is used on a Windows 7 Dell PC.

Table of Contents:

  1. What Is Task Manager?
  2. How to open Task Manager
  3. The Applications Tab
  4. The Processes Tab
  5. The Services Tab
  6. The Performance Tab
  7. Networking Tab
  8. The Users Tab


What is Task Manager?


Task Manager shows you the programs, processes, and services that are currently running on your computer. You can use Task Manager to monitor your computer’s performance or to close a program that is not responding.

If you are connected to a network, you can also use Task Manager to view network status and see how your network is functioning.

If more than one user is connected to your computer, you can see who is connected, what they are working on, and you can send them a message.

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How to open Task Manager


The Windows XP's CTRL+ALT+DEL key combination which brought up the task manager has a different effect in Windows 7. It brings up a selection dialog which requires another click or key press to either:

  • lock the computer
  • switch user
  • log off
  • change a password
  • start the task manager

SLN265816_en_US__11377267478523.task managers backdrop

To go directly to the task manager and bypass this dialog altogether press the CTRL+SHIFT+ESC keys together instead.

Alternatively you could run a search for it from the task bar or put it into a Run box or you can right click on the task bar and choose task manager from the menu that appears.

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The Application Tab


The Applications tab in Task Manager shows a list of the programs currently running.

Most applications that have a taskbar entry will appear on this tab, but this is not always the case. Right-clicking any of the applications in the list brings up a menu that allows switching to that application, ending the application and showing the process on the Processes tab that is associated with the application.

Choosing to End Task from the Applications tab causes a request to be sent to the application for it to terminate.

If you click a particular column header to sort the list, you’ll see a small arrow in the column header that not only alerts you to which column header has the current sort, but also lets you know if the sort is ascending or descending - if the arrow points up the sort is ascending and if it points down, the sort is descending.


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The Processes Tab


The Processes tab shows a list of all running processes on the system.

This list includes services and processes from other accounts. Beginning with Windows XP, the Delete key can also be used to terminate processes on the Processes tab. Right-clicking a process in the list brings up a menu that allows changing the priority the process has, setting the processor affinity - setting which CPU(s) the process can execute on and allows the process to be stopped.

Choosing to End a Process causes Windows to immediately kill the process.

Choosing to End Process Tree causes Windows to immediately kill the process, as well as all processes directly or indirectly started by that process. Unlike choosing End Task from the Applications tab, when choosing to End Process the program is not given warning nor a chance to clean up before ending.

By default the processes tab shows the user account the process is running under, the amount of CPU, and the amount of memory the process is currently consuming. There are many more columns that can be shown by choosing Select columns from the View menu.

When you’re troubleshooting Windows 7, you’ll discover that the Processes tab provides you with more detailed information. For example, when you access the Processes tab you’ll notice straight away the new Description column which identifies each process.


The Description column provides very useful information in a troubleshooting situation. If you need more information then pull down the View menu and choose the Select Columns command to reveal the Select Process Page Columns dialog box.


This lets you get more descriptive detail by selecting the Image Path Name or Command Line check boxes.

Image Path Name

the full path to the file behind the running process

Command Line

the full command line, including the parameters or switches used to launch the process


You can add the Image Path Name and Command Line headers to the Processes tab.

You can get useful information about a particular process by right-clicking on it and selecting the Open File Location or Properties command.

  1. When you select the Open File Location, Windows Explorer opens the folder containing the file

  2. Selecting Properties opens the file's standard Properties dialog box



You can right click on a process and select the Open File Location or Properties commands

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The Services Tab


If you want to investigate whether a running service is tied to a particular process then you can right-click on the service name and select the Go to Process command.

Task Manager will then switch to the Processes tab and highlight the associated process.


Using the Go to Process tab makes it easy to identify services running as processes.


SLN265816_en_US__8icon Note: If you click Go to Process and no process is highlighted in the Processes tab, the process is not running under your user account. To view all processes you’ll need to click the Show processes from all users button and go through the User Account Control (UAC).

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The Performance Tab


The performance tab shows overall statistics about the system's performance, most notably the overall amount of CPU usage and how much memory is being used. A chart of recent usage for both of these values is shown. Details about specific areas of memory are also shown.

There is an option to break the CPU usage graph into two sections.

kernel mode time
One of the most important facilities for CPU usage of the Task Manager is that it allows two modes such as Kernel Mode Time and User Mode time. In our system many components such as device drivers, core part of Windows operating system run in kernel mode. The performance monitoring of these devices are displayed in the Kernel mode time. Kernel Mode time is represented graphically by a line graph. It is represented as red area.

user mode time
User Mode time is another graphical representation of CPU Usage. In the system most of the components run as user application. These include additional programs installed by the user and user applications. We can enable user mode time of the CPU usage from the View menu. In the View menu choose ‘show kernel time’. After selecting this user mode time is represented by red area.

Many device drivers and core parts of the operating system run in kernel mode, whereas user applications run in user mode. This option can be turned on by choosing Show kernel times from the View menu. When this option is turned on the CPU usage graph will show a green and a red area. The red area is the amount of time spent in kernel mode and the green area shows the amount of time spent in user mode.

The bottom graphs and the majority of the statistics measure actual memory usage rather than page file usage. It also displays system uptime as well as provides a link to the full blown Resource Monitor.


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The Networking Tab


The Networking tab shows statistics relating to each of the network adapters present in the computer. By default the adapter name, percentage of network utilization, link speed and state of the network adapter are shown, along with a chart of recent activity.

More options can be shown by choosing Select columns from the View menu.


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The User Tab


The Users tab, shows all users that currently have a session on the computer.

On server computers, there may be several users connected to the computer using Terminal Services.

As of Windows XP, there may also be multiple users logged onto the computer at one time using the Fast User Switching feature.

Users can be disconnected or logged off from this tab.


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Article Properties

Affected Product

Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Fixed Workstations

Last Published Date

21 Feb 2021



Article Type