All The Task Manager Keyboard Controls You Should Know

We prepared a guide with the most useful task manager keyboard shortcuts to help you use task manager even without a mouse. Check it out.

If your laptop suddenly freezes and your mouse is not responding, do you know how to access Task Manager and end the task that makes your PC unusable by using only your keyboard?

This is why everyone should know some basic task manager keyboard controls.

A good grasp of task manager keyboard shortcuts will not only save you from situations like the one above but will also help you keep track of everything happening on your PC much faster.

In this article, I will show you the most useful Task Manager Keyboard Controls:

Keyboard Shortcuts to Open Task Manager

These are the three ways to open the task manager with your keyboard:

Keyboard Shortcuts to Open Task ManagerWhat it Does
CTRL + SHIFT + ESCIt opens task manager.
CTRL + ALT + DELIt opens Windows security options. Here you can press the Tab key to navigate the task manager.
Windows Key + X  ->  TWin + X opens the Power User Menu; then, entering T you will open the task manager.

As you saw above, CTRL + SHIFT + ESC is the main shortcut to open Task Manager; however, if it is not working, you can also do it through the security options (CTRL + ALT + DEL) or the Power User Menu (Win + X)

To open the task manager on a virtual machine or remote desktop, press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC while using the Remote Desktop. This will launch the Windows task manager on the machine you are viewing.

Inside the task manager, you can use the following shortcuts.

Task Manager Keyboard Controls

Here are the main keyboard shortcuts to use with task manager:

Keyboard Shortcuts to Use on Task ManagerWhat it Does
ALTAllows you to browse the Menu Bar of Task Manager with your keyboard arrows.
ALT + FOpens the File Menu.
ALT + OOpens the Options Menu.
ALT + VOpens the View Menu
ALT + O -> AIt makes the task manager always appears on top. (It is essential to turn this on, as sometimes the task manager will hide behind a frozen window)
ALT + DToggles between Fewer details and More details.
ALT + E or DelEnd Task
TabMoves between the different areas of Task Manager (For example, from the menu bar to the process tab, to fewer details, etc.)
CTRL + TabSwitch between the different tabs of Task manager (Processes, Performance, App history, etc.)
ALT + F4  or ALT + F -> XCloses the Task Manager

An important combination of shortcuts to master is how to end a task when you don’t have your mouse.

How to End Task in Task Manager with Keyboard

To end tasks in Task Manager is very simple, and it will become intuitive when you understand the logic of it. Here is how you do it:

  1. Press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC to open the task manager.
    (It is also possible to open the task manager by pressing Win + X, then pressing T. Or from the security options by pressing CTRL + ALT + DEL, then pressing TAB a few times to arrive in the task manager.)
  2. If you are not on the Processes tab, press CTRL + Tab until you switch to Processes:

    (If your task manager doesn’t show as much information as in the window below, it means you are in simple view. In this case, press ALT + D to switch to more details.)
  3. Press Tab twice so you can highlight the Name column:
  4. Use the arrows to move to the process you want to end.
  5. Then press ALT +E or Del to end task.

Remember to set your task manager to Always on Top, so the task manager is never frozen behind a window. This will allow you to kill a full-screen frozen application. To do this, open the task manager, press ALT + O (this will open the Options Menu), then A to activate Always on Top.

Even though we have covered everything about Windows Task Manager by now, our tutorial doesn’t end here, though, because there is another very important task manager, Chrome’s Task Manager.

Did you know Chrome got its task manager? Keep reading.

Keyboard Shortcut to Open Task Manager on Chrome

Many users don’t know, but Chrome comes with its own task manager, which is very useful, as it lets us visualize each process running on Chrome and how many resources each of them uses it.

This is very useful to help you end tabs and unused browser extensions that use too much memory or CPU.

Google Chrome Task Manager

To open Chrome task manager with your keyboard:

With Chrome open, press SHIFT + ESC to open Chrome’s task manager. In Chrome task manager, you can use your keyboard arrows to move between processes and columns; when highlighting a process, press ENTER to end the process.

(To understand more about Windows and Chrome task manager, check this article on what the number in brackets means on task manager.)

This process is not exclusive to Chrome; it works on Microsoft Edge, Opera, or any Chromium-based browser.


CTRL + SHIFT + ESC is the main keyboard shortcut to open the Task Manager, but you can also open it by pressing Windows key + X, then pressing T. Another way is to press CTRL + ALT + DEL and then use the Tab key to select Task Manager.

The more important shortcuts inside Task Manager are ALT + E to end tasks, ALT + D to toggle between fewer details and more details, and ALT + O, then A to set the Task Manager to appear always on top.

If your Left Alt key and Windows key have switched functions on your laptop or your wireless keyboard, check the article I’ve written.

Laerthe Côrtes

Laerthe Côrtes

My first desktop computer, back in the 1990s, opened a whole new world for me; since then I am a heavy PC user (who will never get used to smartphones.) I worked for five years in the PC software industry, and my favorite version of Windows is still Windows 95.

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