Task Manager won’t launch
If you see an error message when launching Task Manager, it could mean that a system file is corrupted. System File Checker, a tool included with Windows, can fix this. Click Start, type cmd into the search bar (or straight into the Windows 8/8.1 Start screen), then right-click cmd (or Command Prompt in Windows 8/8.1) and choose ‘Run as administrator’. Next, in the Command window, type sfc /scannow, then press Enter and wait - it can take many minutes for the process to complete. Restart your PC, then try launching Task Manager.
If it still doesn’t work, a malware infection might be the problem. Make sure your security software is up to date, then perform a full scan.
Task Manager disappears from the Taskbar
If this happens when you hit Task Manager’s Minimize button (the single horizontal bar at the top right of the program window), it’s probably because you have the Hide When Minimized option ticked in the Options menu.
The solution is to remove this tick - but how do yo do that when Task Manager has disappeared? The trick is to doubleclick the small, green meter-style icon in the notification area at the far right-hand side of the Taskbar. Of course, now that you’ve discovered this handy trick you can always keep Hide When Minimized ticked for a tidier Taskbar.
All the tabs have vanished
This happens when you double-click the area just to the right of Task Manager’s tabs bar. To make the tabs reappear, just double-click at the very top of the Task Manager window. Note that you won’t have the problem of vanishing Task Manager tabs in Windows 8/8.1, presumably because Microsoft realised the confusion this can cause.
Processes tab is overrun with duplicate entries
It’s a bit worrying when you see duplicate entries in the Processes column - sometimes up to a dozen or so. But while you may think Task Manager (or your PC) is going haywire, this is actually quite normal. Chrome browser processes (chrome.exe) are a prime example. To help prevent crashes, Chrome launches each tab as a separate process. The idea is that if one tab becomes unstable, only that process needs to be closed, and doesn’t take all the others with it. This isn’t a fault so there’s no fix, as such, other than closing the related programs.
Task Manager keeps crashing
If Task Manager is unstable, the Windows Event Viewer can help track down the cause.
First, launch Task Manager and wait for it to crash (or perform whatever action causes it to crash). Then, immediately click Start, type eventvwr.msc into the search bar (or the Start screen in Windows 8/8.1) and press Enter. Now, in the left-hand pane, double-click to expand Windows Logs then click Application. In the middle pane, check those entries with a yellow Warning icon to see if you can find one that relates to Task Manager. You do this by selecting an entry, then clicking the Details tab below.
We obviously can’t tell you here how to fix every single possible cause of the problem, but the information on the Details tab should help you find the solution quickly. You can use Google to search for the info provided in the EventData field.
Some columns are missing
With Windows 8/8.1, Microsoft eliminated Task Manager’s disappearing tabs, but it added customisable columns - and it’s all too easy to accidentally hide one.
This is a particular problem on the Details column, where an inadvertent right-click on one of the column headings could lead to you choosing the Hide Column option accidentally: the pop-up menu’s so small you might not even notice it. So, if you’ve got missing columns in the Details tab, right-click another heading, choose Select Columns, tick the ones you want, then click OK. It’s much the same on other tabs, though the right-click menus are longer (and therefore easier to notice), and you can select or clear directly from the pop-up.