How to Find Hidden Programs Running on My Computer

Windows runs many hidden programs that don't display on the Windows task bar. You can find hidden processes and services using the Windows Task Manager and Services applications.

Display Hidden Processes

You can display hidden processes in the Windows Task Manager.

To open Windows Task Manager, enter task manager in the Windows 8 Search function and select the Task Manager application or press Ctrl-Shift-Esc.

Select the Processes tab. If the Task Manager does not show the Processes tab, first click on More details to show the tabs, then click the tab.

The Apps section of the Processes tab displays all the normal programs that are shown on the Windows Task Bar. View the Background processes section to find hidden processes.

If you're unsure if one of the hidden processes is needed or you want to learn more about any hidden process, right-click the process and select Go to details.

The Details tab opens with the selected process highlighted. Read the Description field for the process to find out more about it.

Startup Programs in Task Manager

Some of the hidden processes on your computer are started when you launch applications, and some run automatically on Windows startup. When you install new programs on your computer, they may add new programs to be launched on Windows startup, and over time this can slow down Windows as the number of hidden programs increases.

To find out what programs run automatically at Windows startup, open Task Manager and click the Startup tab.

Display Services

Services are programs that are started by Windows when the computer starts, before any users log in. Services are intended to run while hidden in the background, doing their jobs without you noticing them. Services can be displayed using the Services application.

In the Windows 8 Search box, type services and select View local services. Select the Standard tab. The application displays the name and description of all services on your machine.

The Services application lists even services that aren't running. Services that are currently running display Running in the Status column. To easily view all running services, click the header of the Status column twice in a row to sort the services with the running services at the top of the list.