The Windows Task Manager is a tool that is used quite often, for a lot of reasons. Whether to kill a rogue application, check memory consumption, or check running processes, that tool is often the go-to tool for system administrators or support staff.
But there are times, troubleshooting for example, when it is necessary to see the processes that have been executed by all users (and not just the logged-in user). In order to add this helpful column to the Task Manager report, a few steps must be taken. It's not terribly challenging, and the end result is quite useful.
There is a button in the Windows 7 Task Manager that will close and reopen the Task Manager with the processes listed for all users. But who wants to take that extra step when the day is already filled with too many headaches and tasks?
With that in mind, let's create both a desktop icon and a hot key to start the Windows 7 Task Manager automatically showing All Users.
Step 1: Create the shortcut.The first step is to create the desktop shortcut that will be used to start the application. Right-click the desktop and then click New | Shortcut. In the resulting window (Figure A), enter taskmgr.exe in the Type the Location of the Item field and click Next.
You can either browse for the executable or just enter the text in this text field.
In the next text field, give the shortcut a name (such as TM All Users) and click Finish.
Step 2: Configure the shortcut.With the shortcut created, it's time to configure the properties such that the shortcut will open the Task Manager in the desired manner. Right-click the newly created shortcut and then select Properties. When the Properties window opens (Figure B), click on the Advanced button.
If you want to change the icon for the shortcut, click on the Shortcut tab and click the Change Icon button.From the Advanced window, click Run as Administrator and click OK. Back in the Properties window, click OK, and you're done. Now when you double-click that icon, the Task Manager will open showing tasks being run by all users, as shown in Figure C.
You can sort tasks by user by clicking the header of the User tab.
Stay on top of the latest Microsoft Windows tips and tricks with TechRepublic's Windows Desktop newsletter, delivered every Monday and Thursday.
What about the UAC?
There might be instances where this shortcut will cause the User Access Control (UAC) to pop up, requiring yet another click. There is a way around this thanks to scheduled tasks. Here's how this works:
Step 1: Create a scheduled task.
Open the Task Scheduler (type task in the search field and select Task Scheduler from the results) and click the Create Task from the Actions pane on the right side of the window. Fill out the necessary information for running the Task Manager, making sure to check the box for Run with the Highest Privileges. Give the task a simple name like Taskmanager.Click on the Actions tab of the Create Task window and click New. When the new window opens (Figure D), make sure Start a Program is selected from the drop-down menu and then enter C:\\Windows\System32\taskmgr.exe in the Program/Script text area. If that explicit path does not work, do a search for taskmgr.exe so that you know exactly where the executable is on your system. Click OK to save and dismiss the remaining windows related to the Task Scheduler.
This particular action will need no arguments.
Step 2: Test the task.
Create a new shortcut like you did earlier for the taskmgr.exe application, only enter schtasks /run /tm taskmanager in place of the taskmgr.exe. Now, you have a shortcut that will start Windows Task Manager for All Users and will also bypass the UAC prompt.
Although many may find this shortcut not nearly as helpful as others, it is nice to know it is available for administrators who frequently need to dig around a system and know exactly what user is running what task.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.