Windows XP / Beginners

Using Task Manager to adjust priorities

The Windows Task Manager is something that we all have experience with when we have problems with a frozen program. The Task Manager is actually a very useful utility. Another use of the Task Manager is to change the priority at which an application is running while it is running. The Task Manager makes it possible to dynamically change the priority of application. This capability can be very useful when you have a lot of programs running on your computer.

Caution Setting any application to real time can be dangerous, because doing so will allow the application to hog all of the CPU time and will make exiting a program that is running at this high priority impossible, if for some reason it crashes. Because the program is hogging all of the CPU time, it takes a very long time to just load the Task Manager to end the application.

If you have a program that is doing a lot of CPU-intensive operations, such as rendering a video clip or a game, you can adjust the priority of the application by following these steps:

  1. Load the Task Manager by clicking the Start Menu and selecting Run. Then type taskmgr.exe in the text box and click the OK button.
  2. Once Task Manager loads, click the Processes tab.
  3. Right-click the name of the process for which you would like to adjust the priority, select Set Priority, and then select the level.
  4. After you click the priority level, your change is complete.

If your computer has multiple processors or supports hyperthreading, then you will notice an extra option when you right-click a process called Set Affinity. This option will allow you to specify on which CPU the application will run (or which virtual CPU, in the case of hyperthreading users).

Using the Task Manager to change the priority levels is great. However, there is one downside. When an application on which you have altered its priority level is closed, the priority level it was running at will be lost. The next time the program is started up, it will be running back at the default level. This can be a real annoyance for some users; however, there is a great trick to fix this problem, which will be shown in the next section.

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