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Task Manager On Mac: The Activity Monitor & How To Use It

Task Manager On Mac: The Activity Monitor & How To Use It.

Looking for a Mac Task Manager? While macOS is an essential part of working with Windows, there is no exact equivalent of a Windows utility. Instead, macOS has a program called Activity Monitor, which basically does the same job as the Windows Task Manager

Let’s take a closer look at what Activity Monitor is, how it is an alternative to Task Manager on Mac, and how to use it.

What is Activity Monitor?

One of the main tasks of the operating system is to manage all the programs running on your computer. It allocates memory, processor power and makes sure that different applications do not step on each other’s heels.

The Activity Monitor gives you a window into this incredibly busy world and allows you to make some decisions as well. Basically, it’s the Mac Task Manager.

Forget CTRL + ALT + DEL: How to access Task Manager

Everyone, even people who have little knowledge of computers, have heard of “Control, Alt, Delete”. This is a universal keyboard shortcut for Windows PCs that brings up the Task Manager. Among other things, it allows you to destroy frozen or crashed programs.

MacOS does not have such a keyboard shortcut for invoking Activity Monitor. Again, this kind of system freeze-related misbehavior is unheard of in macOS, so it’s hardly a problem. To access Activity Monitor, all you have to do is find it using Spotlight search (CMD + Space).

Alternatively, you can get there by choosing Finder and then Applications Utilities.

Understanding Tabs

Activity Monitor contains quite a lot of information that most Mac users honestly never need to pay attention to. Before launching Activity Monitor, let’s take a quick look at each of its main tabs.


Regardless of which Mac model you have, its processor can perform many different tasks at the same time. This tab shows all the various processes that are drawing his attention. Each active program will show the percentage of currently used CPU time. They can fluctuate, and macOS will allocate more CPU time to processes that are active and need it now.

So, for example, when you export a video project to Final Cut Pro, expect it to use almost 100% of your CPU

Memory Tab

RAM or RAM is the high-speed storage hardware your processor needs to send instructions to it. If you are running low on memory, your Mac will be forced to start using much slower disk space.

The memory tab shows how much of your RAM is in use and which programs are using it the most. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about this information. Why? Because even when active programs are not using RAM, modern operating systems intelligently preload information into RAM to improve performance.

It’s much better to keep track of your memory pressure graph. This handy Activity Monitor shows you how heavily loaded your system memory is. If it turns red, it means that your Mac is using the boot disk to increase RAM, which is bad for performance. This means that you need to close some programs or, if that is not an option, consider upgrading your RAM.

Energy Tab

This may not matter much for Macs plugged into a wall outlet, but MacBook users will definitely pay attention as soon as battery concerns begin. The Energy tab can be very helpful when it comes to figuring out which apps are drawing all of your battery power.

Of all the columns located on this tab, the average. Energy Impact should be your source of energy consumption information. This shows how much power each app has consumed since loading or in the last eight hours, whichever is longer.

Disk & Network Tabs

The last two tabs are probably far less interesting to most people than the first three. The Disk tabs show how much each program has written to or read from disk. For the average user, the most useful application of this information is to check if a program is misbehaving or linking your disk for no reason.

The Networking tab is also of limited interest to most Mac users, but if you’re on a data-limited plan this is a good way to find out which software is draining your data limit.

Discard the columns you don’t want

Does this sound like information overload? Well, the good news is that you can crop some of the content in Activity Monitor that you don’t particularly need.

Just click View Columns in the menu bar and deselect the columns you don’t want. You will also see other columns to choose from if you want to add even more activity monitoring types.

Noise Sorting

As you saw, each tab has several columns in which each process is in a row. You can click the name of any column to sort the processes by specific information type.

For example, when you click on% CPU, the processes will be sorted in ascending or descending order depending on what percentage of the processor they are using.

How to kill (force terminate) task using Activity Monitor

Let’s say one of the processes or applications on your system is not working as expected. This usually means that the program is not responding, not the entire system. How do you kill him? It’s actually pretty simple!

Just select the process you want by clicking it once and it will be highlighted. Then click the “X” button in the upper left corner of the Activity Monitor.

You will be asked once if you really want to abort the process. There are two ways to do this if you are really sure. A button labeled quit nicely asks the program to complete its business and close. This is useful if, for some reason, you cannot find its window or icon.

A button labeled force quit unceremoniously exits the program, which means the possibility of data loss. It doesn’t matter if the program is completely frozen.

Now, you are the master!

While most people will never need to use Activity Monitor at all, it’s good to know that this utility is well-made, easy to use, and effective, allowing you to see what’s going on under the hood and troubleshoot issues in their path. The next time someone asks you where the Mac Task Manager is, just point them to Activity Monitor!

Task Manager On Mac: The Activity Monitor & How To Use It

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