Really Cool Things You’ll Find Useful in Windows 8’s Task Manager

One of the best changes made in Windows 8’s desktop platform is its task manager. With the new task manager, you can easily diagnose problems and close applications that don’t respond with much more fluency than you have had with the old one that’s stuck around since the Cambrian era. This new and improved window not only fits better with the rest of the interface, but it also seems to be one of the most user-friendly application managers to date.

1. A Simpler Task Manager

Your task manager now lets you close programs right from its first screen, and lists all applications you start. Let’s look at the simple version, shall we?


As you can see, I’m running IE with MS Paint. I can just click an application and click “End task” if I want to close it. This is particularly convenient for those who don’t want to see a list of programs that they didn’t open themselves. That’s the end of the story. You won’t see every top-level application running on the computer. Instead, you’ll just see a more understandable list of open applications without all the panic involved. This means you no longer have to hunt for eggs. If you want a comprehensive view of all running applications, just click “More details” near the bottom.

2. The Heat Map

If you’re looking at your task manager in Windows 8 right now after clicking “More details,” you’re probably wondering what all the colors are about. If you don’t have Windows 8 installed, let me show you what I’m talking about:


This array of colors represents the activity on your computer with respect to one particular resource and one particular application. Each column represents a resource and each row represents a running process. More pronounced and dark colors represent higher resource usage. This gives you a proper visual presentation of how your computer is performing with each application, saving you from the daunting task of debunking what your system’s using. Oh, have you noticed the process names? “Chrome.exe” became “Google Chrome,” and so on. This makes it easier for you to recognize what processes you’re looking at. If you don’t know their functions, there’s another neat little trick for this that the task manager offers.

3. Search The Web

If you’re unsure of what a process does, you can always scour the web through Google. Just type the name into a search bar after opening your browser. Sounds like fun, right? Not really.

It can be a very exhausting task when someone tries to figure out what’s wrong with their computer and comes up with squat. That’s why Microsoft now implements online searching within the task manager. Just right-click a process and click “Search Online.” It will open your default browser with the search term already in place via your default search provider.

4. Child/Parent Processes

In case you didn’t notice it on the above image, there are small arrows next to certain processes. Usually, this represents a parent process that has opened some child processes. To view all the children, just click the arrow and all will unfold. This is similar to what Process Explorer gives you, and makes the task manager a very powerful tool for determining problem areas in your computer.


We’d like to hear your thoughts on this matter. Perhaps Windows 8’s task manager has finally cut to the chase, or has it? Let’s hear a bit from you on what you have to say on the subject. Opposing views are more than welcome, as long as you preserve civility. Leave a comment below!

Miguel Leiva-Gomez
Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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