Process Explorer in Windows 10: An advanced Task Manager (EXPLAINED)

The Task Manager on Windows 10 provides a detailed look at the apps and services that are running on the system. For many users, the Task Manager provides sufficient details about the apps and services that are running but in some cases, it falls short.

The Task Manager limits itself to showing the CPU, Memory Disk, Network, GPU usage, and the Process ID. It can tell you what’s dragging your system down and to quit an app that isn’t responding. It is a reasonable trouble-shooting tool but it does fall short at times.

What Is Process Explorer?

When Task Manager fails to provide enough information about an app or process or service, the number go-to tool for Windows 10 s Process Explorer.

Process Explorer is part of the Sysinternals suite of apps. Think of it as a more sophisticated task manager that can provide details the stock Task Manager cannot. 

Process Explorer can identify files that are in use by an app, and it can identify which process (or app) is accessing a particular DLL file. 

Process Explorer

Process Explorer Features

Here’s what Process Explorer is and does:

  • A process/app identifier that allows users to drag and release a target icon onto an app window. The related process is highlighted in Process Explorer.
  • A detailed list of all the directories i.e., folders and files that a particular process or app is accessing while it runs.
  • A detailed look at the registry keys that are associated with a process or app.
  • A CPU and GPU graph for each app that is currently running allows you to see the impact of an app on your system’s resources.
  • Search for handlers and find which apps are using them.
  • Kill or suspend a process.
  • Can replace Task Manager.
  • Submit a process to VirusTotal.
  • Kill an entire process tree instead of just one process at a time.

process explorer in windows 10 an advanced task manager explained 1 Process Explorer in Windows 10: An advanced Task Manager (EXPLAINED)

Process Explorer Usage

Process Explorer is a more advanced Task Manager so it begs the question, what or when should it be used?

Process Explorer is best used when you have to identify which app has a file open.

You can use the app to find the process for an app.

Find the registry entries for an app and modify or remove them once the app has been removed.

Suspend a process and reduce its system usage to zero without having to kill the app that’s running it. This is a great way to free up system resources without having to close/quit the session and start anew when you want to get back to the app.

View how processes and apps change as they work with the color-coded system that Process Explorer has. You can view the legend for the colors by going to Options>Configure Colors.

Process Explorer Limitations

Process Explorer is a powerful tool but it has a terrible UI. It’s enough to intimidate anyone trying to learn the app. 

Even after you figure the UI out, it’s still very busy and cluttered. The color-coding, while useful, isn’t easy to remember because the app makes use of a lot of colors. 


Process Explorer can be set as the default Task Manager on Windows 10. Whether you need it to be the default task manager app on Windows depends on how often you need to troubleshoot something and how often the Task Manager falls short of providing the information you need. Process Explorer is a great app and should be in your toolbox of troubleshooting tools.

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