Simple guide to Windows Task Manager

Where can I find a nice, simple guide to Windows Task Manager? The Applications tab is obvious enough, but what are the different columns in processes (working set versus private working set?), and what do the right-click options (e.g., UAC Virtualizations) do? What do the various graphs under the Performance tab refer to? What about Resource Monitor or Networking?

I’m looking for something basic that says a bit more than introducing how to kill a process, but doesn’t expect me to already know a lot. Something to scratch the look-under-the-hood urge, maybe tune some things or diagnose a bottleneck, but not start a new career.


This page looked helpful:

Thanks, but unless I’m missing more to the page (not an absurd suggestion) that’s much more introductory “here’s the process tab” variety. I’m not seeing anything on resource use or whatnot … or am I completely overlooking something?

My apologies. There’s less to that page than first met my eye.

First, Process Explorer is probably better for digging into system internals. It’s a free utility from Microsoft.

I think you will learn more by playing around with TM and asking questions than reading some sort of guide, but then it depends on how you like to learn. I like to work backwards by running into things I don’t understand and then having my questions answered. Different strokes.

For troubleshoot a program, you would use Rescource Monitor. Find the troublesome proggie in the top panel and put a check next to it. All of the other panels will only show processes (and maybe services) related to that program.

A process is sometimes the same bit of code that is listed on the application tab, but sometimes it isn’t. An app might have 1 process or a dozen depending on what it needs to do.

Services are system functions that apps use. These are usually part of the operating system but there are apps that run as a service as well. I think services run with the authority of the system itself. They are invoked by the system either at start up or when they are first called by an app.

At the bottom of the processes tab, you will see a box. If it’s checked it will show you all of the processes from all users - which really means your programs and whatever the system is running. I would leave that unchecked since it just confuses things.

This was developed independently by freelancer. MS bought/hired him out. Good stuff and the only way I was able to resolve a nasty root-kit infection a couple years ago. MS used to have some how-to videos from seminars he gave when he brought this to microsoft…they are probably still available.