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Windows Tip: Put Task Manager in widget mode

What?

Microsoft Windows logo

Collapse Windows Task Manager into a desktop widget that's between full size and the minimized system tray icon.

In two clicks, you can put Task Manager in "widget mode" and see useful information at-a-glance, without taking up a lot of room.

Why?

Widget mode is much smaller than normal, but still large enough to display different kinds of useful information.

Windows Task Manager is a great way to see what your computer is doing, but sometimes it takes up too much space. Minimizing it to the system tray moves it nicely out of the way, but it

  • displays only the current processor load,
  • doesn't show processor load history, and
  • doesn't display any other information.

How?

Double-click on the inner border of any Task Manager tab to put it in "widget mode". Double-click again to restore Task Manager to its normal state.

SCREENSHOT: Windows task manager collapse to widget

Tips & Tricks

  • Click and hold on the border to drag the widget around your desktop.
  • This works for any tab in Task Manager, so you can use it to keep an eye on all kinds of information, like network utilization, your process list (to see what's hogging all the memory or processor), etc.
  • Find a creative way to use Task Manager in widget mode; look in the View menu in each tab to choose optional information to display. Some things (e.g. I/O reads & writes, network throughput, etc.) might be really useful to see at-a-glance, depending on what you're doing.

Disclaimer: I stumbled on this by accident. In fact, I'll come clean and admit that I did this months ago on one of my computers, and figured there was just something wrong with Task Manager. :) It wasn't until I accidentally did it again today and started to experiment with resizing it that I realized it might be a display mode!

Update: I didn't think by any means that I was the first to "discover" this; I mainly wrote it up because I'd been too lazy to look into the "problem" before, and thought I'd share it with others who may have done the same. My wife encouraged me to search for more information; it turns out this is called Tiny Footprint mode. (I think "widget mode" is cooler!)