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7 secrets of Windows Task Manager every computer user should know

6. Look up processes online

In Windows Vista and 7, if you want to check out a suspicious process, you need to open up a browser and type in the process name to do a search. In Windows 8.1 and 10, simply right-click on a process and select "Search online" to instantly see what the internet knows about it.

7. Customize Task Manager

By default, Task Manager shows most people what they need to know. However, there are times you might want to know more.

In all versions of Windows, for example, you can add more columns of information to the Processes tab. In Windows 8.1 and 10, simply right-click on the column header, such as where it says "Name." You'll see a number of other columns you can add, such as Type, Status, Publisher, etc.

Two columns you might want to use are "Process name" and "Publisher." The Process name shows you the actual .exe name of the process, just like in Windows 7 and Vista, instead of just what it says it is. This can help you spot programs that might be telling you one thing but are really another.

Similarly, the Publisher column can tell you where the process comes from. For example, a lot of them will say "Microsoft Corporation." If you spot a company you don't recognize, you can look them up and see if they're on the up-and-up.

In Windows Vista and 7, add more columns by going to View >> Select Columns. These options are going to be a lot more detailed than you probably need. For Windows 8.1 and 10, these same column options can be added in the Details tab of the Task Manager.

Finally, in Windows 8.1 and 10, you can also adjust whether you see percentages or absolute values. For example, in the Processes tab, you might see in the Memory column header that 70 percent of your memory is in use.

However, for each process, you see numbers like "2.2 MB" or "25 MB." Those numbers are useful, but you might want to see the percentage of memory each process is using to more quickly track down the hogs.

Right-click on a process and go to Resources values >> Memory >> Percents. Now you'll see the percentage each process takes up. You can do the same for Disk and Network.

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