Using Windows 8’s Task Manager in Monitoring Apps that Eats Too Much System Resource

The task manager has changed slowly since it was first seen on Windows XP. This valuable tool has made its way down to Windows 7 with just minor improvements but the task manager on Windows 8 has got lots of improvement you can’t afford to miss.

One very noticeable change is the “App History” tab which is not found on the task manager versions included on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. This section of the Windows 8 task manager gathers usage statistics and other reports for all the programs and applications that you set to run on your computer. This may not seem to be that much useful if you are using a laptop computer but this is very useful to other mobile devices like tablets and Windows phones which have limited storage space and processing capabilities.  If you’re wondering why your battery drains up power very fast or your computer has been sluggish these past days then you should go to the “Apps History” tab on your Windows 8 machine and check if there is an app or program which has been using up too much system resource. Read on so you learn how to do this!

How to Access Windows 8’s Task Manager

The first thing that you need to learn is how to get to the Task Manager on your Windows 8 computer. You can access the Task Manager in many ways but to save time and space, we will only discuss two easy methods:

1.  Search Task Manager on the Start Screen

  • While you are on the “Start” screen, hover your mouse over to the Search box or tap on it and type “task” then press the “Enter” key on your keyboard
  • The search results will appear on the left side of your computer screen. From this Window, click on the “Apps” search result category under the Search box and look for the “Task Manager” shortcut on the left which should be the first one on the list then click or tap on it to open the Task Manager Window.

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2. Using the Windows Key + X Keyboard Shortcut

  • Another way of accessing the Task Manager is by simultaneously  pressing the Windows Key then the X key on your keyboard.
  • After pressing the said keys, a menu that looks like the screenshot below should appear. From this menu, look for the “Task Manager” item and click or tap on it to open the “Task Manager”.

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  • You can also open the same menu by moving the mouse pointer towards the bottom left corner of the screen or tapping on it. A “Start” tile will appear after you do so. Just right-click on it or press and hold on the tile until the menu appears.

What’s in the Apps History Tab

Once the Task Manager Window opens, just click on the Apps history tab on top but before we do some tweaks on it, we will first see what information do each of the five columns in it contains:

  • Name- This column contains the name of the app, process or program.
  • CPU Time- The amount of CPU time that a specific app or program has accrued over a specific period of time.
  • Network- The network utilization (in MB) of a particular app shown in its total.
  • Metered Network- Network utilization and its total which is metered and marked accordingly.
  • Tile Updates- The network usage amount that is taken to update the live tile  of a specific App.

Showing the Historical Data of All Windows 8 Apps and Processes

As its default setting, the “App history” tab only displays the usage for the Windows 8 Apps installed on it. In order to make the most out of this tool, you need to click or tap on the “Options” item on top then select the “Show history for all processes” option on the menu that appears.

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Once you’re done selecting the option, task manager will list all the apps, background processes and programs both those that are running normally and the rest that runs on the background. The results displayed will give you a precise view of the resource used as well as the history of all the stuff that runs on your Windows 8 machine.

Customizing the Data Displayed on the App History Tab

By default, the apps installed on your computer are listed by their name in alphabetical order. You can rearrange the data that is displayed by clicking on any of the column headers.

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The default columns that are displayed shows an informative detail of the amount of data that the the apps are using. You can add more information and show an even greater detail of each app by right-clicking or pressing and holding on any of the column header until a list of available data points to display appears. You can disable a column (uncheck) or enable it (check) so it displays on the Window. The available columns which you can choose to display are as follows:

  • Non-Metered Network- Usage of the networks for the apps and processes that are not marked to be metered.
  • Downloads- A selected app’s amount of downloads done on a period of time specified.
  • Uploads- A selected app’s amount of uploads done for a specific period of time.

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After selecting the information that you want to display in the columns, you can rearrange them according to your liking by clicking and dragging them to the desired location.

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Deleting the History Data of a Specific App

An app’s history data accumulates over time and it would be hard for you to discern how much memory and CPU usage the app has taken if the result covers a long period of time so it is better to reset everything to zero and start measuring all usage aspects again. To do this, you need to delete the history of all the apps and this is simply carried out by clicking the “Delete usage history” link found just below the tabs which are lined along with the “App history” tab.

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After doing so, all of the usage history and other stuff that the apps on your computer has accumulated will be set to zero again. Now, by monitoring things closely, you will be able to find out which app uses most of your machine’s data and resources.

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Learning More About Processes with the App History Tab

If you’ve been monitoring the usage that some processes has accumulated and you’ve noticed one that chews up megabytes of your data and system resource like a hungry monster then you need to identify if this process is really needed and put it to stop if you see that it is not necessary to have it running.

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But the problem is that some processes are not named in a way that would help  you identify what they are used for. To find out more about a certain process that you’ve identified as a culprit, you need to right-click on it or press and hold it then select “Properties” and once you reach the “Properties” Window, just click on the “Details” tab so you can see more information about the process/app.

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If the information on the “Details” tab is not enough then you can click or tap on the “Search Online” option and browse through the top search results to find a wealth of related information that will help you identify what the process is used for and why is it using too much data form your machine.

That’s all there is to it. Although the App History tab appears irrelevant to some, this section of the taskbar is no doubt a handy tool for prolonging battery life on most users who own mobile devices like Windows phones and tablets which has weak batteries and cheap data plans.