Terminate… With Extreme Prejudice

Sometimes, you just have to get tough with your computer. Some program has run amok and is slowing everything to the speed of a drugged snail. There is a way to kill, or terminate, a runaway program as long as the computer isn’t completely frozen. You do this with a program built into Windows called, appropriately enough, the Task Manager.

The task manager is not easy to find in Windows unless you know where to look. Fortunately, there are several ways to get to the Task Manager very easily. Write one or more of these on a post-it note and stick it in a prominent place:

  • The fastest way is the keyboard way. Hold the Ctrl (Control) and Shift keys, and press the Esc (Escape) key. (The Escape key is usually in the top left corner of your keyboard. The Control key is usually in the bottom left and/or right corner of your keyboard.)
  • Or, Right-Click on a blank part of  the Taskbar (The bar at (Usually) the bottom of your screen, where the clock lives), and select Start Task Manager from the resulting menu.
  • Or, Hold Ctrl and Alt and press Delete, then click on Start Task Manager.
  • Or, hold the key with the Windows Logo (Bottom row, usually between the Ctrl and Alt keys), press R, and type taskmgr in the Run box.
  • Or, Click the Start button and type task manager in the Search box. When View running processes with Task Manager appears at the top of the Results, press Enter.


Whew! Well, now that you have the Task Manager window open, what now? It looks kind of intimidating! Just click on the Applications tab at the top. Chances are, in the list of running applications (programs), you’ll see a program with the words (Not Responding) next to it. Click on the Not Responding program to highlight it, then click the End Task button at the bottom. You may get a box that asks you if you want to end the program or wait; this depends on your patience factor, and if you have unsaved data you want to salvage. Often, a hung program will begin working again after a few minutes. Go have a cup of coffee or something. If it’s still unresponsive when you return, go ahead and click End Task again and then click the appropriate button to kill the program (with Extreme Prejudice!) This may take several tries, and of course you’ve lost any unsaved data at this point.

If all else fails, you might have to just restart the computer, but try the task manager first.

For even more empowering technology info, read my new book, “Deciphering the 21st Century,” Available now!

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