How to See Which Program Is Using All Your CPU on Windows

Windows 10 task manager icon hero

Sometimes your Windows 10 PC slows down to crawl, maybe accompanied by a roaring fan and barely responding programs. Often the problem is an application that uses a lot of CPU power, leaving little room for other programs. Here’s how to check and how to fix it.

The best tool for diagnosing a Windows program that might be using too many system resources is a built-in utility called Task Manager.

RELATED: Windows Task Manager: The Complete Guide

To open Task Manager, right-click on the taskbar. From the menu that appears, select “Task Manager”. (You can also press Ctrl + Alt + Del and select “Task Manager” from the list.)

If you see the simple interface of Task Manager, click “More Details” at the bottom of the window.

In the full Task Manager window, click on the “Processes” tab. You will see a readout of all active processes and the resources they are using. Processes are applications or programs running on your computer, including vital system functions that run silently in the background.

To sort the processes by which the most CPU is used, click on the header of the “CPU” column. The process using the greatest percentage of the processor will appear at the top of the list.

At this point, if the process that is monopolizing the processor is an application, you can attempt to close it using the usual methods (such as selecting File> Exit from the application menu or right-clicking the application in the taskbar and select “Close window”)).

If the app is unresponsive, you can either wait for a task to complete (if you know the app is actively running and not just stuck), or you can force it to quit. To do this, select the name of the application or process in the list of processes in the task manager, then click on “End task”.

After that, the process will close. If your machine suddenly becomes responsive again, you know the CPU-hogging application was the problem.

If the CPU-hogging process is a system process or one that you don’t recognize, you can also try restarting your PC. Immediately after, it might be wise to run a virus scan with Windows Defender just in case malware is causing the problem.

RELATED: How to scan with Microsoft Defender Antivirus on Windows 10

If restarting doesn’t fix the problem, you can also try update the application or update Windows itself. This can fix a bug in the software that causes the process to crash. Good luck!

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