Task Killer

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Task Killer is a small, memory resident freeware program that provides the ability to quickly find and shut down processes, services, and applications that are running in Windows.

While shutting down processes or apps is not something any PC user aspires to have to do, it seems that many times when you need it most the Windows’ built in task manager (accessed through CTRL-Shift-Esc) can be too slow or sluggish, especially when the machine’s resources are being drained by a process or program that’s gone berserk (or is malicious).

Task Killer provides an easier option for shutting down running processes, apps and even services that is more user-friendly. Here are some notes on this program:

  • Resides in system tray: processes are listed straight from the system tray icon, with submenus for processes, applications, and services
  • Display: the icons for individual processes/programs are displayed, making it easy to identify the different programs/processes at a glance. You also have the option to list the full path for each entry on the hard drive, which might clutter your list a little bit but can be very valuable. The memory consumption for each process/app is also displayed.
  • Color coding: problematic processes (or ones that are taking an inordinate amount of resources) are listed in red for easy identification. Known system processes are displayed in green.
  • Hotkeys: you can assign hotkeys that can display the list of running processes, the list of running apps, or the list of services. (Alternately, a hotkey to display a popup menu of processes with submenus for apps and services).
  • Smart Kill: is a mode you can enable that aims to “kill applications more safely”, according to the developer’s website. No further info is provided.
  • Exclusion list: this is where you can define apps and or processes that, for whatever reason, you do NOT want Task Killer to display in its lists.
  • Command line: is supported.

A nice program overall that takes about 2 megs in memory (not a lot by any stretch, but not microscopic). It works well and will definitely prove useful if you have a system that is hiccuping or problematic. For other related freeware check out Process Explorer (provides lots of valuable info on processes, but takes 20 megs in memory and is geared towards the advanced user), or Advanced Process Termination, which I is the heavy artillery of freeware process termination programs and employs innovative methods to kill the most stubborn of processes. [via Lifehacker].

Version tested: 2.3

Compatibility: Windows 9x/Me, NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Server 2003, 64-bit versions of Windows for x64 and IA64 processors, and Windows Vista.

Go here to download (approx 326K).