Learn which Windows apps use the most resources using the Task Manager

The App history tab in the Task Manager from Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 collects and reports usage statistics for the apps and programs running on your computer or device. For instance, you can check in regularly to see how much processor time or network usage an app has accrued over the past month. This may not be a glamourous feature, but it can come in handy, especially for those who use mobile devices like laptops, tablets or 2-in-1 devices. Identifying an application that uses lots of processing power can help you save battery life and slowing down a heavy downloader can keep you from going over your network usage caps. Here’s how it is done using the Task Manager :

NOTE: The information in this guide applies to both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Because the Task Manager window looks and works the same in both these operating systems, we will use screenshots taken only in Windows 10.

How to access App history in the Task Manager

To view your app’s resource usage, you’ll need to open the Task Manager . For a full list with the various ways to accomplish this simple task, check out this article: 10 Ways to start the Task Manager in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1.

Once the Task Manager is open, click or tap the “App History” tab.

Before we get to the tweaking of the settings, you should know that the App history tab displays five columns:

  • Name - The name of the app.
  • CPU Time - Total amount of processor time that the selected app has taken up.
  • Network - Total network utilization in MB for the selected app.
  • Metered Network - Total network utilization on a network that is marked as metered.
  • Tile Updates - Amount of network usage for updating the chosen app’s live tile.

How to show historical data for all processes

By default, the App History tab will only display usage for modern and Universal Windows Platform apps. To get the most out of this tab, click or tap on “Options” and then on “Show

history for all processes” .

The Task Manager will now list all the apps, programs and background processes that run on your Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 computer or device. This gives you the most accurate view - a complete history of all running processes and the resources they use.

How to customize the App history tab data

The apps and processes are by default ordered alphabetically. You can rearrange the data by selecting any of the other column headers.

While the default view shows you a pretty good picture of your data using apps, you can take it farther by adding more columns. Right click or long press on an existing column header to view a list of available data points. You can uncheck any of the existing columns to hide them, or select any of the following columns to add them to the view:

  • Non-Metered Network - Network usage on networks that aren’t marked as metered.
  • Downloads - The amount of downloads done by the selected app.
  • Uploads - The amount of data uploaded by the selected app.

Once you have your selected columns displayed, you can rearrange them by clicking and dragging their column headers.

How to clear your App history data in the Task Manager

When viewing your app history data, it can be difficult to discern how quickly your apps are racking up network usage. You may see that Netflix has used gigs of data, but if that’s over a long period that may not be so bad. However, if it’s only been a few minutes since data logging began, you’re in trouble.

If you want to clear your data and start counting again from zero, go ahead and click or tap on “Delete usage history”.

All of your recorded history will be deleted and all columns will be zeroed out. With careful monitoring you can now see how some of your apps quickly chew up data.

How to use the App history to learn more about processes

Let’s say you've been monitoring your App history and you found a particular process that seems to be gobbling up megabytes like they were hot wings during the big game. You’ll want to determine if this network usage is necessary and put a stop to it if you can. The trouble is, not all processes are named in a friendly and recognizable way. If you find yourself with a mystery process, try right clicking or long pressing on it for a few options that will help.

Select “Properties” to open the process’ Properties window. Check the Details tab for a list of information about the app. You might be able to find out who created it. If you see Microsoft, Intel or another trusted name like your antivirus’ name, it’s probably an essential or otherwise important process.

If this isn’t enough to go on, try selecting “Search Online” from the Task Manager to launch your default web browser and search for it. Browse through the top results and you’ll likely find all the info you need to identify it and figure out why it’s using so much of your data allotment.

Useful ways to work with the App history tab in Task Manager

As you get used to monitoring Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 apps in the App history tab, you’ll come to know what apps use what resources the most. But to give you a head start, we’ll let you know what sort of apps to look out for:

  • CPU Users - You’ll want to keep a handle on CPU users as they’ll waste a lot of your mobile device’s battery life. Obviously, any app you use a lot will accrue CPU time. Even Google Chrome, which is relatively lightweight, can add up if you spend a lot of time online. The apps you’ll want to look out for are larger and more intense apps including games and multimedia applications.

  • Network Users - Wasting battery life can be an annoyance, but overusing your network can cost you money. You’ll want to make sure you pay attention to any app that operates over the Internet. That includes web browsers like Opera, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Firefox.

  • Worse by far than browsers, however, are apps that stream HD video. You may not realize it, but as you stream the latest Game of Thrones episode, that entire video file is being downloaded to your device while you view. You can rack up gigs of data usage in just a few hours without even working at it. Just like Jon Snow, you’ll know nothing.

Conclusion

While the App history tab may not have the universal appeal of the Processes or Performance tabs, to a Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 mobile user with a weak battery or a cheap data plan, this will likely be the most important tab in the Task Manager . By giving you quick access to the apps that are wasting the most resources, it can help you prevent waste, prolong your autonomy and avoid damaging fees. If you any question about the Task Manager from Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below.