Windows 8 comes with a number of tweaks and improvements over previous versions of Windows. One of the most noticeable areas of improvement is with the new Windows 8 Task Manager.
The Task Manager has been completely overhauled to make it more useful and accessible to the average PC user. Today, we’re going to show you how to use the new Task Manager to speed up your PC, fix problems, and perform other useful tasks.
How to launch the Windows 8 Task Manager
Launch the Task Manager using the same keys you’ve known and loved for several generations of Windows: Ctrl+Alt+Delete.
After pressing that, you’ll be greeted with four different options. Choose the Task Manager option (obviously).
Alternatively, you can right-click anywhere on the taskbar and choose Task Manager. That’s useful if pressing three keys simultaneously is too hard for you, or if you want to avoid the unnecessary ‘Lock’, ‘Switch User’, and ‘Sign Out’ screen.
Use the Task Manager to Manage Processes
Managing open applications is easier than ever thanks to the Windows 8 Task Manager. By default, the first Task Manager window shows active applications. As opposed to the old Task Manager, which highlighted a bunch of background processes, this Task Manager is trimmed down.
You can click on the More details button at the bottom of this window to reveal a surprisingly deep amount of information about all active processes. You can see how much CPU each process is using along with their specific memory usage, disk transfer rate, and network bandwidth usage.
A new color coding system makes it easy to identify high resource using applications. Applications with darker colors are using more resources than applications with lighter colors. Simple, right?
You can also click on individual apps to see if you have multiple windows open. If you’re using a number of different internet explorer tabs, for example, then your Task Manager will look like this:
Processes = Apps + Background processes + Windows processes
You can scroll through the Processes menu of the Task Manager to reveal more information about every single process currently operating on your PC. The list is divided into apps, background processes, and Windows processes.
Identifying those strange processes on your system
One of my favorite parts about the Windows 8 Task Manager is the ability to search for a specific process online. When optimizing a PC or searching for viruses, I usually end up searching for a number of strangely-named processes on the internet. Sometimes, the processes with strange names are totally harmless. In other cases, they’re serious viruses. Windows 8 removes a step from this searching process by allowing you to search online simply by right clicking on any process.
The Performance tab and System Statistics
Want to see how well your system is running? Check out the Performance tab under the Task Manager. This tab is similar to the ones seen in previous versions of Windows, although it’s a little more colorfully presented.
Choose any of the CPU, Memory, Disk, or Ethernet options along the left hand side of the page to reveal more information about each type of resource (Tip: You can instantly view your IP address by going to the Ethernet tab).
App history is another feature that was in previous versions of Windows but received a significant aesthetic upgrade. With the new App History section of the Task Manager, Windows 8 users can view the approximate network usage, CPU time, and tile updates of each app on their system.
For PC users, this information probably isn’t profoundly useful – unless you’re downloading several gigabytes of data on Bit Torrent. But if you’re a mobile user carefully monitoring data usage, this Task Manager can help prevent data surcharges.
This is another excellent addition to the Windows 8 Task Manager: the Startup tab. In previous versions of Windows, users had to open a run command box to access startup settings, and even then, the menu wasn’t very intuitive for novice PC users.
With Windows 8, things have changed, and users can edit their startup programs directly from the Task Manager. To do that, simply navigate to the Startup tab and right click on any files that you no longer want to start up with your system. By default, this menu doesn’t display any programs that are integral to the Windows operating system, so don’t worry about messing up your system.
Users, Details, and Services
The final three tabs aren’t very useful for the average PC user, so I’ll lump them into one section. With the users tab, you can view resource usage and data usage by user. On the Details tab, you’ll find a menu that looks like the old Windows processes tab – so if you’re feeling nostalgic, head there. And finally, the Services tab shows all running services on your system and, more importantly, allows users to instantly stop or restart a particular service.