How to manage Windows services using the Task Manager

T he Services tab has been present in the Task Manager in all modern Windows operating systems: Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. With its help, you can view the complete list of system services, view which services are running and handle basic management tasks. You can even open up the main Services tool, if you need to handle more in depth tasks. Here’s how it all works, in all new versions of Windows:

NOTE: The information shared in this tutorial applies to Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7. For simplicity, we will use screenshots taken in Windows 10.

How to access the Services tab in the Task Manager from Windows

Before you can get to the managing of the services running on your Windows computer, you have to first start the Task Manager . There are ten ways to get there that we’ve talked about before, in this tutorial , so we won’t get into details here too. When you open Task Manager , if it shows you its Compact View , click or tap on “More details” to expand the tool to its full view.

Once you see the full view of the Task Manager , go to the Services tab.

You’ll find that the tab is laid out in columns that you can click/tap and drag to reorder. Click or tap a column header to reorder the list of Services by that column’s values.

Each column displays different data:

  • Name - Displays the name of the service.
  • PID - Displays a unique process identifier that can be used to identify the service.
  • Description - A plain text description of what the service does.
  • Status - Displays whether a service is running or stopped.
  • Group - Displays the name of the service group, if applicable.

How to identify services in the Task Manager from Windows

Reading the names of your services can occasionally give you basic idea of what they do, but not always. For instance, WinDefend obviously has something to do with Windows Defender . While this one is easy, it’s also certainly an exception to the rule. You’ll find that most services names are baffling, to say the least.

Your best bet is to look to the Description column for more information. This will provide more information about the service than its name, but it may still not tell you what you want to know. To learn more about a specific service, right click or long press its name to open the contextual menu. Then, click or tap on “Search online”.

This link will launch your default web browser or open a new tab if it’s already open . I t will then make a search online for the service’s name, using the Bing search engine.

Check out a few of the top links and you should know enough to have a basic idea of how important that service is.

NOTE: Another good alternative to learning more about the services that are running is to read this article: Which Windows Services Are Safe to Disable & When?. It describes all the standard Windows services and what they do.

How to start or stop a service in the Task Manager from Windows

Services that are scheduled to run at startup are typically never shut down. While they are often completely overlooked when diagnosing a slow system, shutting down unneeded services can sometimes give you a speed boost. The Task Manager makes this job simple: scroll through the list of services to locate the ones you’re sure you don’t need. Right click or long press on the service name to open its contextual menu.

You’ll have three options for changing the service’s status:

  • Start - Runs an inactive service.
  • Stop - Shuts down an active service.
  • Restart - Shuts down and then reruns an active service.

How to access the Services tool from the Task Manager in Windows

The Task Manager gives you a quick way to view and play around with Windows services, but it cannot replace the actual Services tool. You’ll need that to actually change the way the services are run. If you get to the conclusion that the Task Manager can’t do the job you want, try opening the actual Services tool.

Before you go clicking or tapping in the Settings app or in the Control Panel , take a look at the bottom left corner of the Services tab from the Task Manager . You’ll find a link called “Open Services” . Click or tap on it to do that.

You can also right click or long press anywhere in the Services tab and click or tap on the “Open Services” option from the contextual menu.

If you want more information about the Services tool and how to work with the service from Windows, check this article: What are Windows services, what they do & how to manage them.

Conclusion

The Services tab from the Task Manager doesn’t have the same extensive feature list that some of the other tabs do. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. While it can’t handle the more advanced tasks, it’s the fastest way to quickly start or stop a service when needed. It’s easy to get to and easy to use, both in Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. If you have questions or issues you need help with, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment below.