9 Things you can do from the Task Manager's compact view

The first time you open the Task Manager in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, you might be in for a surprise because there's isn't much to see in its window. Don't panic, this is the compact view of the Task Manager , not the whole tool. Though there isn't much going on in this view, it is still very useful for switching between open apps and desktop applications or for killing programs without having to switch to them. This works especially well on Windows computers and devices with touch. Read on and we'll show the many things you can do from this simple user interface:

NOTE: The Task Manager works the same in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. The screenshots used in this guide were taken in Windows 10.

1. How to open the compact view of the Task Manager

Open up the Task Manager using any of the options available to you. While there is no shortage of ways to get to the Task Manager , we're partial to the keyboard shortcut "Ctrl+Shift+Esc." If this is your first time opening the tool, you'll see the compact view that we're looking for. This view shows a list of all the applications, both desktop and modern style apps, that are running on your Windows device.

If you've used the Task Manager before and switched to the more detailed view, you'll need to click or tap " Fewer details" , as shown below.

This gets you back to the compact view of the Task Manager .

2. Switch between open apps in the compact view

The compact view of the Task Manager not only shows what you're running at any given time, it also gives a very quick way to switch between applications. To switch to one of your open desktop applications or modern apps, double-click/tap on its name from the compact view of the Task Manager . You can also right-click or long-press the application's name and press " Switch to" .

3. Close apps and desktop programs from the compact view

If you're done with one application or another, this simple Task Manager view gives you a fast way to close it without first having to switch to it. Select an app from the list and right-click or long-press it to open a context menu. Then, press " End task" . Alternatively, you can simply select the application and click or tap the " End task" button on the bottom-right corner of the compact view.

4. Start a new app from the compact view

Not only can you close applications from this Task Manager view, you can also easily open them. Right-click or long press a listed application and then click or tap "Run new task" .

The "Create new task" window is opened, also known as the Run window. You can enter the name of the application that you want to run. You can also click or tap Browse and select the executable file of the program that you want to run, from File Explorer .

Then, select the box to run the process with administrative privileges if necessary and then press Enter or click/tap OK to launch the program.

5. Keep the Task Manager from getting hidden behind other windows

If you plan you do a lot of work with the Task Manager , you may get annoyed that, each time you select a new window, it gets hidden in the background. If you want to fix this issue, and keep the Task Manager on the top at all times, right-click or long-press any listed process and click or tap "Always on top" .

Repeat this process if you want to deselect the option.

6. Find the location of a running app

Sometimes you need to know where an application's executable is stored on your hard disk. Maybe you need to create a shortcut for it or maybe you want to manually delete it. Whatever your motivation, the Task Manager can help you out. Right-click or long-press on the application's name in the Task Manager . In the context menu that opens, click or tap "Open file location" .

The File Explorer will launch, opening the folder where your chosen application's executable file is stored.

7. Research an unknown application

The compact view of the Task Manager only shows desktop applications and modern apps that are open. Obscure background processes are hidden in the more detailed view of the Task Manager . This means that the items you see listed in this view should be obvious and recognizable. If you see something running that you don't recognize, you'll want to figure out what it is to make sure it isn't malicious. To research an unknown app, right-click or long-press it and then click or tap " Search online" .

Your default web browser will launch and run a web search on your default search engine, of the process' name to give you more information about it.

8. View the properties of an application

Looking at an application's properties lets you see a lot of information about the executable that runs the program. You can see the file's size, location, access dates, security settings and you can troubleshoot compatibility issues. Typically, you'd need to find the executable in the File Explorer , right-click it and then click or tap Properties to get this information. If the program is running however, you can just right-click or long-press it in the compact view of the Task Manager and click or tap Properties .

The same Properties dialog you'd get from the longer method mentioned above opens up giving you access to all of the information you need.

9. Open the detailed version of the Task Manager

Now you've seen almost everything you can do from this simple view of the Task Manager . It's certainly useful, but this awesome Windows tool has more to offer. To take a look at the full version of the Task Manager , just click or tap " More details" from the bottom of the window.


At first glance, it doesn't appear that the compact view of the Task Manager is very useful. Afterall, it's just a list of programs. You now know that this isn't the case. From this very basic window you can easily switch between running applications, kill processes and then run new processes. You can do all this without even opening the full version of the Task Manager . For more useful tips and tricks about the Task Manager in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, don't hesitate to read the articles recommended below.