Seven Ways to Open the Windows Task Manager

Bringing up  Task Manager is not much of a task itself, but it’s always fun knowing different ways of doing things. And some of them might even come in handy if you can’t open Task Manager the way you’re used to.

Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete

You’re probably familiar with the three-finger salute—Ctrl+Alt+Delete. Up until Windows Vista was released, pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete brought you directly to Task Manager. Since Windows Vista, pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete now brings you to the Windows Security screen, which provides options for locking your PC, switching users, signing out, and running Task Manager.

Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc

taskmgr_3

The quickest way to bring up Task Manager—assuming your keyboard’s working—is to just press Ctrl+Shift+Esc. As a bonus, Ctrl+Shift+Esc offers a quick way to bring up Task Manager while using Remote Desktop or working inside a virtual machine (since Ctrl+Alt+Delete would signal your local machine instead).

Press Windows+X to Access the Power User Menu

Windows 8 and Windows 10 both feature a Power User menu that you can access by pressing Windows+X. The menu features quick access to all kinds of utilities, including Task Manager.

Right-Click the Taskbar

If you prefer mouse to keyboard, one of the fastest ways to bring up Task Manager is to right-click any open space on your taskbar and choose “Task Manager.” Just two clicks and you’re there.

Run “taskmgr” from the Run Box or Start Menu

The name of the executable file for Task Manager is “taskmgr.exe.” You can launch Task Manager by hitting Start, typing “taskmgr” in the Start menu search box, and hitting Enter.

You can also run it by hitting Windows+R to open the Run box, typing “taskmgr,” and then hitting Enter.

Browse to taskmgr.exe in File Explorer

You can also launch Task Manager by opening its executable directly. This is definitely the longest way of opening Task Manager, but we’re including it for the sake of completeness. Open up File Explorer and navigate to the following location:

C:\Windows\System32

Scroll down and look (or search) for taskmgr.exe, and then double click it.

Create a Shortcut to Task Manager

And last on our list is creating a nice, accessible shortcut to Task Manager. You can do this in a couple of ways. To pin a shortcut to your taskbar, go ahead and run Task Manager using any of the methods we’ve covered. While it’s running, right-click the Task Manager icon on the taskbar and choose “Pin to Taskbar.” After that, you’ll be able to click the shortcut to run Task Manager anytime.

If you want to create a shortcut on your desktop (or in a folder), right-click any empty space where you want to create the shortcut, and then choose New > Shortcut.

In the Create Shortcut window, enter the following location into the box and then press “Next.”

C:\Windows\System32

Type a name for the new shortcut, and then 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—keyboard or mouse not working, battling pesky malware virus, or whatever—any method that works 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

Walter Glenn is a long time computer geek and tech writer. Though he's mostly a Windows and gadget guy, he has a fondness for anything tech. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.