List of Processes in Task Manager

The Windows Task Manager allows users to see which processes are running and how these processes are using system memory. Users can access the task manager by right-clicking on the task bar and selecting "Task Manager" or by pressing "Ctrl" + "Alt" + "Delete" on the keyboard. You can end processes that are no longer responding from the process list in the Windows Task Manager.

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Process Management

"Svchost.exe" is a process on Windows systems, including Windows 7, that hosts other processes that require the use of dynamic link libraries. A key in the registry instructs this process to run so that it can enable other processes to function properly. You may see multiple instances of this process running to facilitate other processes.

Windows users may notice the entry "services.exe" in their task menu. This is the entry for the Windows Service Controller, which has responsibility for services that do not require user action to create system changes. These processes include Alerter, Clipbook Server, Computer Browser, Event Viewer, Messenger and Server and Workstation.

Users and Sessions

The process that manages interactive user logons and logoffs on Windows systems is "winlogon.exe." This is a critical process and users should not terminate it via the task manager.

The Session Management Subsystem will appear as "smss.exe" in the task manager. This process is the first process to run when a user starts Windows in user mode and handles the creation, management and deletion of user sessions.

The Local Security Authority Subsystem Service ("lsass.exe") works with the Windows logon utility to handle system security and authenticate user accounts. For example, this process checks that the password an user enters matches the stored password to allow an user to log on.


The Client/Server Runtime Subsystem, which appears as "crss.exe" in the Windows Task Manager, manages graphical elements of the operating systems such as application windows.

According to Neuber Software, Windows Explorer is the process that manages the user interface and the user's desktop, also known as the Windows graphical interface. For instance, this process allows users to open folders containing files on the system. You can end the process and restart it to reboot the interface if it is behaving incorrectly. The entry will appear as "explorer.exe." This is not the same as "iexplore.exe," the entry for the Internet Explorer browser.


Users may see non-Windows entries in the task manager. These entries may belong to user installed applications. For example, the Firefox web browser appears as "firefox.exe" in the Windows Task Manager while AOL Instant Messenger has the listing "aim.exe."

Because different users have different programs running on their computers, the processes list in the task manager varies from computer to computer. Users will always see the entry "taskmanager.exe" when looking at the Windows Task Manager because it is an active process.