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Dated: Jun. 15, 2010
Related CategoriesWindows XP
Computer Beginners Guides
Back in the days of MS-DOS, if you wanted to reboot your computer you either pressed the reset button on your computer case or, as many people quickly discovered, you gave your PC the "three fingered salute". This term, oddly enough never officially adopted by Microsoft despite its widespread use, referred to the Ctrl+Alt+Delete combination that resulted in a restart (called a warm reboot) of the operating system. Ctrl+Alt+Delete was used, quite Simply, when you could do nothing else but start over.
Ctrl+Alt+Delete lives on in Windows, albeit with a somewhat different function. These days, the three-fingered salute results in the Windows Task Manager appearing on screen, one of whose functions remains, indeed, to shut down the system when you can't do so through the Start menu. Rather than initiating a brute-force, all-or-nothing shutdown, however, the Task Manager lets you shut down each program individually, indeed even some open windows within a particular program individually Because it interacts directly with the Windows XP system, Task Manager has the ability to close programs and windows you cannot close through the usual methods, such as clicking the Exit button or choosing Close or Exit from the File menu.
You can launch the Task Manager by pressing the Ctrl+Alt+Delete key combination or by right clicking the Taskbar and choosing Task Manager. When studied, you’ll quickly see that the Task Manager Applications tab on a system shows activity of several programs simultaneously. To close a program in the list, select it and click the End Task button. If the program is currently busy, a dialog box asks if you wish to shut it down immediately; if the program has been causing problems by acting strangely or running slowly, say yes to unload it from memory The Task Manager helps you most by letting you shut down programs that have crashed; they appear in the window with the status "Not responding."
Here you can see the computer processes currently active in your system. All programs run processes, as do numerous elements in the operating system itself. As with the Applications window, you can click on any process shown here and stop it by clicking the End Process button. One of the main benefits of the Processes window is that many items appear here that do not appear as full programs on the Applications menu, and you can learn quite quickly which processes you can shut down to save memory. If you don't work regularly with Acrobat reader, for example, terminate the Acrobat.exe process. Similarly, if you're not planning to use the DVD drive to play movies, you can terminate cinetray.exe. Before doing so, however, check the System Tray to see if the icons for these programs appear there, and close them normally instead. Ending a process via the Task Manager can result in program crashes and even complete system crashes. But when all else fails, with your system behaving erratically or extremely slowly, try ending some recognizable services and see if doing so clears up the problem.
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