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Understanding the Windows Task Manager

Task manager is an important part of Windows, and it is very useful, but only if you know what it is and how to use it.

Task manager can usually be accessed by pressing ctrl+alt+del keys on the keyboard. What it will do is show you what is running in the background. In many cases, programs will be running that don’t need to be running. You can ‘end task’ or ‘end process’ on these (depending on the version of windows) to close the program. In other cases, a program may freeze and not allow you to do anything with it, including closing it. Again, task manager will allow you to close the program. Note that some programs should be running, and sometimes in the case of a freeze of a program, the program will need to be relaunched if you want to use it.

While closing a program using task manager may cause you to lose any unsaved information in that application, it is important to keep in mind that when you restart the computer, the programs that are set to automatically start up will start up again, so don’t get worried that if you close the wrong thing, you can’t get it back. Just restart the computer.

Windows ME, XP, and Vista also have a utility that allows you to control what automatically starts up when windows is booted. To get to this utility, go to Start, click Run, type MSCONFIG and press the enter key. Click the startup tab, and it should list everything set to automatically start up. To prevent something from starting up automatically, uncheck it, then click Okay and restart the computer for the change to take effect. NOTE: some of the items on the list should run automatically, primarily those that have to do with windows.

Also note that not everything that automatically starts up will be listed here, only those things that start from the registry will be listed. Also check by clicking Start, clicking Programs, then scrolling to the folder called Startup. Click on it and check what is listed, if anything. If there is something there that you don’t want loading on start up, right mouse click on it and select delete. Nearly everything that will be listed in the startup folder will be a shortcut, so deleting it should have little or no effect on the program. You should also receive a notice from windows saying that you are removing a shortcut and asking if you want to proceed, which lets you know that it is indeed a shortcut.

If you are using task manager and see something there that you don’t recognize, which is rather common, simply google the file, and you should be able to find out what the file is and what program it belongs to.

It is best to be informed about what is running on YOUR computer, and this is one way to do it.

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