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It's often helpful to be able to see CPU activity at a glance. This lets you know if a system slowdown is related to the CPU being tied up with a task. A simple way to add this functionality is to make the Task Manager a fixture in the Windows system tray.
By default, when the Task Manager is active you will see a dark green square in the system tray. When the CPU activity goes up to 50 percent, a green light fills up half the square. When the CPU activity goes up to 75 percent, the green light fills up three quarters of the square, and so on. You can also hover your mouse over the green square to see the exact CPU usage at any moment.
You have to keep the Task Manager running all the time in order to keep the green CPU monitoring square active in the systray. You probably don't want to clutter up your Taskbar by having the Task Manager sitting there all the time, so you can set it to simply minimize to the systray. You can do that by opening the Task Manager and clicking Options | Hide When Minimized.
To open the Task Manager you can press [Ctrl][Shift][Esc], or you can click [Ctrl][Alt][Del] and then click Task Manager. However, if you want permanently to make the Task Manager part of your system tray, then there are two ways to do it.
The first option is that you can go into the System32 directory and make a shortcut of the file taskmgr.exe. Then, cut and paste this shortcut into the Startup folder (Go to Start | Programs | Startup. Right-click on Startup and click Open. Then paste the taskmgr.exe shortcut in there.). Next, right-click on the taskmgr.exe icon in the Startup folder and click Properties. Under the Run option, select Minimized.
The second option is to make a registry edit. Add a REG_SZ value to the following registry key:HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
Give the REG_SZ value the name TaskManager and then give it the following string:
start /min c:\\winnt\system32\taskmgr.exe
Remember that editing the registry is risky, so be sure you have a verified backup before making any changes.
Now, whenever you log on, the Task Manager will be waiting in the system tray. (Don't forget that the Task Manager uses some system resources itself.)