How-To Geek

Six Ways to Open the Windows Task Manager


Bringing up Windows Task Manager is not much of a task itself, but when a virus disables Ctrl+Alt+Del and takes it hostage, how else are you going to open task manager? Or maybe you’re just looking for some diversity in your life, so here are six different ways to open Windows Task Manager.

1) Ctrl+Alt+Del

Readers will probably be most familiar with the three-finger salute (AKA Ctrl+Alt+Del). Up until Windows Vista was released, pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del brought you directly to Windows Task Manager. Since Windows Vista, Ctrl+Alt+Del now brings you to the Windows Security screen which provides users with five different options including Windows Task Manager.


2) Right-Click Taskbar

Arguably the fastest way to bring up Windows Task Manager is by right-clicking the taskbar and choosing the Start Task Manager option. It’s just two clicks and voilà! You’re staring at Task Manager in no time! Of course, you could always create an AutoHotKey script to bring up Windows Task Manager even faster with a click of a button.


3) Run taskmgr

The Run command is a great tool for accessing shared folders, but you can also use it quickly up programs such as Registry Editor or a Command Prompt. Click the Start button then the All Programs folder. Under the Accessories folder click the Run command. You can also press they Windows Key + R on your keyboard or enable the Run command in your Start Menu. Finally, simply type “taskmgr” and hit Enter.


4) Ctrl+Shift+Esc

Another quick keyboard shortcut to bring up Windows Task Manager is Ctrl+Shift+Esc. Besides bringing up Windows Task Manager while using Remote Desktop, you can also use Ctrl+Shift+Esc to bring up the task manager while working locally.


5) Browse to taskmgr.exe

This is definitely the longest way of opening the task manager, but if it’s your only option then it’s better than nothing at all. Open up Windows Explorer and navigate to C:\Windows\System32. The location of taskmgr.exe should be the same in all recent versions of Windows. Scroll down (or search) for taskmgr.exe and double click it.


6) Create taskmgr.exe Shortcut

And last on our list is creating a nice, accessible shortcut to the Task Manager on your desktop. Right-click on your desktop and choose New then click Shortcut. A new window will pop up. Browse to the same path as above, C:\Windows\System32. Scroll down until you see taskmgr.exe, highlight it, and then click OK. Click Next, type a name for your shortcut, and finally click Finish.


That’s the end of our list! Some methods are obviously more efficient than others, but if you’re in a tough situation battling a virus, any method is a good one. You can also check out our guide on how to start Task Manager in minimized mode during startup, so it will always be open when you turn your computer on.

Image by moonstar909

On the south side of Chicago born and raised. On the computer is where I spent most of my days. Nerding out, haxing, maxing my CPU. And all writing some How-To's is now what I do.

  • Published 10/2/15
  • Fred Nurry

    7 press the Windows key, type taskmgr in the search box, which is effectively Run these days.

  • Straspey

    Or you can do the following, which is my preferred method - although I'm not sure if it works in Windows 8 or 10 -

  • bnjohanson

    While on this subject, can someone here list all of the ways to skin a cat ?

  • James

    Method number 8: Run Task Manager using one of the above methods and while it is open, "pin" it to the Taskbar". Then it is always available with one click!

  • Virtus

    Install Process Hacker 2 to replace task manager and just double click the square running in your taskbar wherever you want. Or you can just hover your mouse over the square and see which process uses the most CPU, RAM, GPU, commit charge, etc. It's optimized and you can see all the processes running and have better control over your system. It can do so much more I don't even understand yet.

  • Elcidio

    @howtogeek 7. Windows + X key then choose "Task Manager". 8. takmgr in cmd.

  • Croatoan

    Even faster. Double click on empty space on taskbar (excellent program 7+Taskbar Tweaker needed :smile:

  • Scott

    User Norman suggests Win+X, then choose Task Manager.

  • Scott

    User Michael suggests this:You can also navigate to it, right click it, and pin it to your taskbar or startmenu

  • Peter Petropolis

    Why are these tricks "stupid"? And,if they are, then why are you presenting them? Unless you mean the geeks are stupid? I suppose some of them might be, but can such a generalization be made? Please clarify if you read this. Thanks.

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