How Do I Tell If Programs Are Working in the Background on My Computer?

There are a lot of processes that occur when a computer is on. You might see some of these processes when you use an application for the Internet or while using a word processor. There are other processes you may not be aware of.

Microsoft Windows operating systems have Task Manager, an application that shows you all of the processes running on your computer at any given time. Looking at Task Manager may give you an idea of which programs are running, whether they are from applications you are aware of, or from applications which run in the background.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows NT-based operating system or greater
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  1. How Do I Tell If Programs Are Working in the Background on My Computer?

    • 1

      Verify the operating system. The Task Manager is available on Windows NT-based operating systems, which includes XP, Vista, and 7. You can verify your operating system by right-clicking on the Computer or My Computer icon, and selecting Properties.

    • 2

      Open Task Manager. You can bring up Task Manager by: 1) right click on your taskbar (where your system time clock is located), and select Task Manager, or 2) on your keyboard press the Control (CTRL), Alternate (ALT), and Delete keys at the same time, and select Task Manager, if it does not pop up automatically.

    • 3

      Look for processes. In the Task Manager window click the Processes tab. You can use your cursor to pull and re-size the window from its corners for a better view.

    • 4

      Scrutinize the running processes. The processes might have shortened, abbreviated names such as "svchost.exe," which appears in the first column under the Image Name heading. Glancing to the right you will see a Description column, which will reveal the program associated with that process. For even greater detail you can see which services are associated with that process by right-clicking the Image Name, and selecting Go To Service(s).

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