Task Manager creator shares anecdotes about the incredibly useful tool

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,305   +120
Staff member

For example, did you know that if Task Manager ever hangs or crashes, you can open a new instance by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc? According to Plummer, Winlogon will search for an existing instance and try to recover it for up to 10 seconds. “If the old Taskmgr doesn't start making sense by responding with a secret code within that time, another one will be launched,” he added.

Plummer also noted that Task Manager is one of the few apps that won’t just “fail and bail” if things go wrong. If resources are low, the app will load in a reduced mode – only showing the processes page if that is the most pertinent.

Other useful nuggets include:

  • You can restart Task Manager to factory defaults by holding down Ctrl+Alt+Esc while restarting it.
  • You can access the binary for any process in the process table by right clicking it and selecting “Show File Location.”
  • There isn’t much that Task Manager can’t kill. “It will even escalate privilege and (if you have it) enable debug privilege to attach to and kill apps that way if needed. If TM can't kill it, you've got a kernel problem.”
  • Ctrl+Shift+Esc will also launch Task Manager without any help from the shell so if the shell / explorer is dead, you can use this combo to bring up TM then reset / restart the shell. “Even if your tray is missing and gone, this combo should start it.”

Plummer notes that the tips are all based on Windows XP as he left Microsoft long ago.

While there, he also worked on ZIP folders, the Start Menu, the calculator app and product activation. He even wrote / ported Space Cadet pinball (3D Pinball for Windows). Nowadays, Plummer said he codes every day in addition to helping teach kids to program at school and restoring old muscle cars / pickups.

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 2,885   +2,607
Command and Conquer: Yuris Revenge has bugs in Windows 10 that basically crash my video card drivers when I exit the game. Task Manager is what I fall back on, but often, even it gets locked up.

To tell you the Truth, I'm shocked that "Task Manager" doesn't get it's own button like WINDOWS has. CTRL+ALT+Delete is not straightforward to the average person learning a PC.
 

ShagnWagn

Posts: 1,297   +1,081
To tell you the Truth, I'm shocked that "Task Manager" doesn't get it's own button like WINDOWS has. CTRL+ALT+Delete is not straightforward to the average person learning a PC.
Agreed. Millions of computers have been thrown away because their computer runs slow. Casual users most often think it has a virus. That is less so in the last ten years.

One of the most useful things for me is adding a column in Details called "Command Line". It lets you see the exact path and what switches it's running with. This helps you see differences with copies of the same .exe running (svchost.exe).
Right-clicking and "Open File Path" is also extremely convenient.
In Performance for CPU, right-clicking and changing to Logical Processors is very nice for seeing if something is maxing out a single core.
I still use Win7 at home, but I am forced to use Win10 on my work PC. The only thing it has over previous task manager versions is now it shows Disk usage as a graph. GPU is also there for my discrete add-in card.

Now it's likely they have run out of memory and it's caching to the drive. Microsoft could easily make an alert on when it's at maximum memory usage. Most often it is junkware that feels it needs to run at startup - Steam, Microsoft office, Cisco, etc etc. About every company feels like they need a client running hidden. This also substantially increases boot times. Then you have web browsers that chew up 2-4GB themselves. Antivirus is ridiculous - mcafee runs 8-12+ executables and 1GB of memory by itself on our servers. A simple removal of startup apps and services fixes computers right up, but Microsoft doesn't tell people how to do that.

I hope David Plummer was generously compensated for adding in significant and useful apps for their operating system.
 
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Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,135   +1,824
Task Manager is extremely powerful. It always surprised me that Microsoft never featured it more prominently but then I suppose that's the point, they didn't want joe average messing around too much in there.
 
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ddferrari

Posts: 443   +206
TechSpot Elite
Command and Conquer: Yuris Revenge has bugs in Windows 10 that basically crash my video card drivers when I exit the game. Task Manager is what I fall back on, but often, even it gets locked up.

To tell you the Truth, I'm shocked that "Task Manager" doesn't get it's own button like WINDOWS has. CTRL+ALT+Delete is not straightforward to the average person learning a PC.
In Windows 10 all you have to do is right-click on the task bar and there is a direct shortcut to Task Manager. Maybe Windows 7, too. Can't remember.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 2,885   +2,607
In Windows 10 all you have to do is right-click on the task bar and there is a direct shortcut to Task Manager. Maybe Windows 7, too. Can't remember.

You can’t right click if the game itself crashes your video card drivers because when that happens none of the buttons work. Sometimes you can crash so hard that control alt delete itself doesn’t work.
 

ddferrari

Posts: 443   +206
TechSpot Elite
You can’t right click if the game itself crashes your video card drivers because when that happens none of the buttons work. Sometimes you can crash so hard that control alt delete itself doesn’t work.
True.

My post is just referring to your statement "CTRL+ALT+Delete is not straightforward to the average person learning a PC". Up until about six months ago, I didn't even know about the shortcut and was still using CTRL+ALT+Delete, and I'm definitely not a noob. :)

It sounds like you experience hard crashes somewhat often? Either the system is unstable (overclocking?) or a component is failing. I don't think I've had a hard crash in years.
 
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