If you've used a Windows computer, you are likely well aware of the Task Manager. This is the small control window that loads when you need to CTRL + ALT + Delete an application (which we've all done countless times when using a Windows computer). However, what happens if you're moving over to a Mac? Is there a Task Manager on a Mac? The short answer is yes, although it is referred to as the Activity Monitor on the Apple system. There are a handful of ways you can bring up the Task Manager Mac feature, which gives you additional control over what is happening on your computer.
What Is the Task Manager Mac Feature?
In many ways, the Task Manager Mac feature is like that of what you find on a Windows Computer. You can force quit applications, look at the power usage of programs, identify tasks that are siphoning off power or running in the background (which is helpful if you believe there is a virus running on the computer).
It basically gives you a complete rundown on what is happening on your computer. With that said, it has other features you won't find on a Windows computer. It is also more clear cut as everything you need will be on full display.
Breaking Down the Activity Monitor
When using the Activity Monitor / Task Manager Mac feature, you'll find there are a host of tabs at the top of the window. These tabs include CPU, Memory, Energy, Disk, Network and Cache. Each of these tabs provides specific insights into what is going on with your computer and how your system resources are being used.
This way, if you need to clear up an application that is overusing memory or your hard drive is near full and you want to make room, all you need to do is bring up the Task Manager Mac feature and select the desired tab.
The CPU tab, which is the first selection listed, shows what processes and applications are using the computer's processor plus the percentage of processing power devoted to performing the specific task. It will also show how long the process has been running.
There are times where it will feel like your computer is overheating and the fan is running overtime. This happens when an application is using more than its share of CPU. You can select a process, control-click it and tell the process to quit.
The Memory tab shows which applications and processes are running and how much RAM (Random Access Memory) each is using. If you need to run an application heavy on RAM (such as a video editing program), you can look over these applications and close out ones you do not need to use.
This is the amount of electricity an application is siphoning off of your computer. It also shows the overall impact the application has had on your computer since it started. (The computer will show the last eight hours of run-time.) It also shows if the application has been "napped." This is like a screen saver for the application, where it is put to sleep, but can be opened easily without rebooting.
This tab also helps indicate how quickly the battery on a laptop will run down. If you want to extend the life of your battery (or at least extend the current charge), you'll want to quit those applications that have a higher impact on your energy usage.
This tab shows how much storage a current application has used up on your computer. This is broken down by the bytes it has written on your computer and the bytes it has read during the current iteration of its run time. You can see the overall size of the application and what it has added since starting up.
Your computer, when it is connected to the Internet, will receive and send information via the network. If you believe your computer is transmitting information with a virus, you can scan over the processes sending and receiving information by clicking on the Network tab.
It also shows the file size that has been sent and received plus the total packets of data sent and received. You'll also be able to see which user is sending out information.
Task Manager Pro Tips
In general you won't need to use the Task Manager Mac feature for what you're doing on your computer. However, there are times where it is helpful to bring it up. This is especially the case if the computer is running strangely, if your laptop is hotter than normal or if the fan seems like it has kicked on and remained on for long periods of time.
Most modern MacBook Pros use a solid state drive which reduces the amount of internal hardware that moves. Because there is no longer a spinning hard drive, it helps keep the entire system cooler and run quieter. Due to this, if the computer feels hot or if the fan kicks on, it means there is an application using a considerable amount of information. With the Task Manager Mac feature, you'll be able to identify this.
If the computer is running strangely, you're able to look up the Task Manager Mac feature to look at what exactly is going on. You may see one application is using a large amount of the processing power which is usually what causes the system fan to kick on and for the computer to run hot. If it is running a large amount---you may see it running over 100 percent when the computer's hot to the touch, it likely means there is a run-time error or another issue going on.The best way to correct this, help your computer cool down and stop the system from overheating is to close out of the application.
Many times, the processes causing your computer to overheat are not obvious applications (like Safari) running. It is a task behind-the-scenes that has run into a problem. Think of it as a car tire that has become stuck in a ditch. You might hit the gas to try to claw the tire out, but instead the tire just spins, burning rubber in the ditch. This happens with an application or process that has become stuck. It continues to spin, building up heat until it causes additional problems. The only way to fix this might be to select the application, control-click it and force quit the process.
Different Ways to Prompt Task Manager in Mac
There are basic ways you can go about opening up the Task Manager Mac feature. Of course, if you use the Activity Monitor a good amount, you can always create a dock icon for it. You'll be able to launch it with a single click of the mouse. If this isn't a possibility, you're able to load the Task Manager Mac feature in a few extended movements.
You can use Spotlight to open the Task Manager Mac feature. This is likely the easiest option available to you. To do this, you'll want to click the Spotlight icon (the magnifying glass) in the upper-right corner of the desktop. With this open, type in "Activity Monitor" into the search field.
On the left side of the screen, you'll see the "Activity Monitor" option load. It has an icon that looks like a heartbeat monitor. Click this to load the Activity Monitor. The Task Manager Mac feature will load, and you'll be able to use it.
The other option is to use Finder to open up the application. Click on the "Finder" icon in the lower-left corner of the screen. (This is the blue smile face icon.) When the new window loads, click "Applications," then choose "Utilities." Now scroll through the list of utilities until you find "Activity Monitor." Select this, and the Task Manager Mac feature will load on the screen.
If you want to create the dock shortcut for the Task Manager Mac feature, you need to find it under the Utilities listing, then click and drag the icon image down to the dock. Hold the icon image in between two current images on the dock. These two images will separate, leaving you an open space. Let go of the mouse, and the new Activity Monitor icon will appear on the dock.
It is important to know what is going on behind-the-scenes with your computer. The best way to do this is to monitor what is using processing power, is downloading behind-the-scenes and stay on top of what information your computer is sending and receiving over the network.
With the help of the Task Manager Mac feature, you'll be able to do this. Plus, should you ever experience problems with the computer overheating or an application taking up more than its share of CPU power and memory, you'll want to head here to see what's going on.