Open Windows Task Manager when using Process Explorer

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I love Sysinternals Process Explorer, it is so much more powerful and detailed than Windows Task Manager, especially since windows 8 when they decided to strip down the Task Manager and make it more user-friendly for non pc savvy users. I think the most useful feature by far though is its ability to find a process by simply dragging the target icon over any active window on the screen, it has helped save frustration so many times I cannot count.

If you dont know what Sysinternals Process Explorer is, it is a program built by Microsoft for more advanced Windows users, its simply Task Manager on steroids. It has a nice feature where by you can replace the Windows Task Manager with Process Explorer, so when you run taskmgr or CTRL + ALT + DEL it will open Process Explorer by default, this is handy since for the most part Process Explorer is way more feature rich than Task Manager.

However there are a few small features in Task Manager that dont appear in Process Explorer, or are not so easy to use, such as the Start-up feature, App history or the ability to open up Resource Monitor. The problem is though you cannot open Task Manager at all once Process Explorer is in charge, even finding the executable for Task Manager and loading it directly gets re-routed to Process Explorer.

So I found myself asking “How do I open the built-in task manager when it’s replaced by Process Explorer?“.

And that question was tricky to answer, the clear answer here is that you CANNOT load Task Manager at all while Process Explorer is in charge because of how the routing works through the registry and windows. But this opens up one clever solution, why not edit the registry, open Task Manager and then switch the registry back.

And lucky for me this trick works flawlessly. All you need to do is create a batch file on your computer with the below commands, replace the path to Process Explorer to where you have it stored, I usually just wack it in the root of my C:/ but thats my preference.

1. Create a file on your computer named “WindowsTaskMgr.bat”.

2. Right-click and “edit” the file which should open notepad.

3. Copy+Paste the code below, make sure to replace C:\procexp.exe to the full path to where your file is.

reg.exe delete "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\taskmgr.exe" /v Debugger /f
start taskmgr.exe
reg.exe add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\taskmgr.exe" /v Debugger /t REG_SZ /d "C:\procexp.exe" /f

4. Save the file. Now right-click the batch file and “Run As Administrator”.

The only downside to this is that you cannot just run the batch file, you have to right-click and run it under administrator privileges for it to work. You can make this more seamless by creating a shortcut to your batch file and then right clicking the shortcut and going to properties, from there you can check “run as administrator”.

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Author: Dean Williams

Professional PHP Web Developer with expertise in OpenCart Web Development, WordPress Web Development, Bespoke Systems - also a seasoned Linux Server Administrator.