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Learn How to Use Task Manager on Mac

Task Manager on Mac
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If you’re a Windows user, you might be familiar with Task Manager and its role.

However, the task manager is all different for Windows and Mac users. How you open a task manager in Windows or Mac might be different, but the function is the same.

Briefly said, opening a task manager is a knee-jerk reaction of users whenever they deal with a problematic system or want to force quit apps.

But a typical task manager in Mac does more than just that.

Are you one of those curious mates trying to find and use a task manager on Mac? If you’re, kudos, you are at the right place.

But first, let’s get our understanding clear about the task manager.

What is a Task Manager?

Task manager is a utility program that monitors and reports the status of running applications and background processes on your system in real-time.

You can get a lot of information about your system’s overall performance. Besides, it can also be helpful in critical troubleshooting issues.

Task manager is the first thing we look out for when dealing with non-responding apps, frequent lags, or severe system slowdowns. It assists you by forcing you to quit unwanted apps or background processes that might degrade your Mac’s performance.

How Does the Task Manager Help Mac Users?

Like Windows, Mac users can easily utilize Apple task manager to kill frozen or lagging programs.

To open Task Manager on Mac, press the [CMD] + [Option] + [ESC] key combination on your keyboard. It will open up the task manager utility window with a list of all the apps and processes running on your Mac.


From here, you can choose the application or processes causing troubles and click on ‘Force Quit‘ to remove them. 

What is Activity Monitor in MacOS?

Activity Monitor is the coined term for task manager in macOS. It does everything a typical task manager does, with advanced tracking and monitoring tools.

Something to Know: Task manager on Mac is just a subdivision of Activity Monitor.

Apple didn’t fail to put a Machish touch on the task manager.

So, the Activity Monitor, here, allows you to efficiently manage your Mac’s core fundamentals, like:

  • CPU: How are processes affecting the CPU?
  • Memory: How do individual apps and processes use the RAM on your Mac?
  • Energy: Which apps and processes are draining the battery, and how to conserve it?
  • Drive: How much data is processed and rewritten?
  • Network: How much data is sent and received by apps when using Mac?

Next, we will learn ways to open activity monitor.

Ways to Open Activity Monitor

If you were a Windows user, you rightly know how to fire up the task manager on your system. By right-clicking on the taskbar, that’s right!

However, doing the same on your macOS does something completely different. So, how do you open Activity Monitor on Mac?

Here’re a few easy ways to open Activity Monitor.

#1. Open Activity Monitor Via Spotlight

You can open Spotlight by clicking on the ‘🔍’ icon in the top right corner. Or, use the ‘Command + Space’ key combination to open Spotlight. Once it’s opened, type Activity Monitor in the Spotlight search bar.


Then, click on the Activity Monitor application shown in the search results. And that’s it! This is how you open the Activity Monitor using Mac Spotlight. 


#2. Open Activity Monitor Using Finder

Open the Finder from the Dock. For those unaware, this is what the icon looks like.


Now, once the finder utility is opened. Go to Applications > Utilities > Activity

#3. Open Activity Monitor Via Launchpad

To do so, click on the launchpad icon in your taskbar.


Then, type Activity Monitor in the search bar.


The Activity Monitor application appears underneath the search bar before you complete typing it. Click it, and you are all set!


#4. Open Activity Monitor from Dock

Another easy way to open the Activity Monitor is from the Dock. But before you can do it, ensure you have used one of the above ways so that the Activity Monitor icon is available on your Dock.  

Once you are completed with the process, you can optionally keep Activity Monitor in the Dock for easy and fast access in the future. To do so, follow the steps: 

  1. Right-click on the Activity Monitor icon in your Dock.
  2. Select Options.
  3. Choose “Keep in Dock”

Essential Metrics You Can Track via Activity Monitor?

As we discussed above, Activity Monitor helps you monitor many things besides letting you force quit applications. 

It has five tabs available at the top of the window 👇🏻


These are not just tabs but metrics that will help you monitor five essential aspects of your macOS. Let’s see how:

#1. CPU

When you open Activity Monitor, the CPU tab opens by default. From here, you can get an overview of your CPU usage.

For example, you will know how specific applications and activities affect your CPUs performance. 

Plus, you can better understand this by sorting all processes in order of highest to lowest CPU usage. To do so, click on the % CPU menu bar.


Doing this will surely ease the process for you to kill unnecessary applications.

Besides, this is one of the two most valuable tabs to analyze when your Mac becomes problematic. 

In layman’s terms, when the CPU is used at par, the system heats up rapidly, and the in-built fans fail to keep it cool. This slows down your system while consuming more than the average battery life.

Using this tab, you can control and monitor CPU usage and quickly optimize usage when things go south.

#2. Memory


As the name suggests, the Memory tab monitors the amount of Random Access Memory (RAM) consumed by each running application or process.

But how can you know when you need to act on this metric?

Generally, when you feel your system is not working at its fullest potential or like it’s impacting your regular work, it indicates that RAM has been overused or maxed out.

You can use this tab to measure your memory usage by individual apps or processes. 

Besides, the tab also has an embedded RAM gauge. Its working is simple – if the area under the curve you see in the image above is green, your system consumes decent memory. And, if it’s red, consider buying off some additional memory.

Pro Tip 💡: You can use apps like App Tamer, which, if enabled, detects heavy memory consumers and slows them down automatically.

#3. Energy


The Energy tab gets you all the insights and stats related to your battery consumption. You can overview the application and background process that are slightly or drastically draining battery life.

The metric can be essential when you want your Mac to last longer while binge-watching a series or working long hours.

Using this, you can manually close or force quit some apps draining excessive battery life.

#4. Disk


Now, this is a lesser-used tab with a greater purpose. Why? 🤔

In the Disk tab, you will find all processes interacting with receiving and writing data to your hard drive. Basically, you can find all the data ever stored on your Mac. 🗃

Imagine a scenario where you get a malware infection on your files, which are suddenly corrupted. Under time-sensitive situations like this, you’ll be able to spot and quit the harmful processes before they go haywire.

#5. Network


Another critical tab that helps you monitor how much data is transmitted (sent or received) by different applications from the network.

Task Done Easier: You can sort the Sent Byte column from highest to lowest to keep large numbers under the eye.

The network section in Activity Monitor is important for security reasons. In a world of cyber attacks, it’s best to be prudent about what data you send and receive from third-party apps downloaded on your Mac.

How to Use the Activity Manager to Speed Up Your Mac?

Analyzing the activity monitor is one thing, but how do you know which files to quit? If you quit files based on their CPU usage or Memory consumed, you might fall into grave danger.

So to know which files to quit, only look for the apps you’ve installed on your Mac and stay away from files you think are inbuilt.

For example, see the image below:


From the image, you can quit Activity Monitor, CleanMyMac app, Finder, and even Chrome (if you’re not working on it). But we suggest you avoid files like kernel_task, deleted, tccd, trustd, etc.

To quit an application from the activity monitor, just double-click on the app you want to delete.


If you want to analyze the app’s running process further, you can click on the Statistics tab and do it.

To quit the app, simply click on Quit. And that’s it!

The same procedure can be done for every app based on CPU, Memory, Energy, Disk, and Network usage.

What is the Ctrl-Shift-Esc Shortcut For Mac?

Well, this key combination in Windows is a direct shortcut to open Task Manager, enabling you to force quit apps within a few clicks. The best part is this key combination works even if your system is completely jeopardized.

Sadly, this won’t work on your Mac. But fortunately, there’s an alternative shortcut for you.

On Mac, you can press Command-Option-Esc to directly open the force quit utility.

From here, you can choose the application or process you want to stop or quit and then click on the Force Quit button in the bottom right corner to finish apps instantly.


Note: Unlike Windows, if an application is frozen and not responding on Mac, its name will be highlighted in red in the Mac task manager utility.

Final Words

Now you might have a better understanding of the whole task manager theory and how it differs for Windows and Mac users.

Knowing how to use Task Manager on Mac is crucial because, with time, when your Mac becomes older, you might face issues like slowing down or a frozen screen.

So better be prepared beforehand rather than wait for that to happen!

Next, you can check Mac optimization software for better performance and security.

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