How to add Task Manager to right-click context menu in Windows [Guide]

The Windows Task Manager is one of the more essential system tools which shows you what software is running, and with it you can close software even if it has frozen (or crashed). The Task Manager does not have a shortcut on the Start menu or desktop, and so the usual way to open it is to press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and then selecting Start Task Manager. However, you can add a Task Manager shortcut to the Windows desktop context menu for more direct access.

Press the Win key + R to open Run, and then enter regedit. That opens the registry editor window below where you should go to the following location: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell. Then right-click shell, select New and Key. Now right-click that key, click Rename and enter the title Task Manager.

task manager

Right-click the Task Manager key, click New > Key to add a subkey to it. You should add a command title to the subkey. To add a value to the command key, right-click its (Default) key and then select Modify.


That opens its Edit String window above where you enter the value taskmgr in the text box. Click OK to close the Edit String window, and then close the registry editor as well. Now right-click the Windows desktop, and you should find a Task Manager option on the context menu. Click on that option to open Task Manager in the shot below.


This context menu option gives you a direct shortcut to Task Manager from the desktop. Alternatively, you could also add a Task Manager shortcut icon to the desktop by right-clicking the desktop, selecting New > Shortcut and then entering taskmgr.exe as its location.

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  • Pympjuice

    I had that problem at first also. The fix is to rename the subkey in the Task Manager key to ‘command’. Then continue to follow the steps as instructed. That should do it.

  • Pympjuice

    This is more helpful for people like me who refuse to have desktop shortcuts on their desktop ruining my panoramic backgrounds lol.

  • Pympjuice

    Thank you for this. I’m using Task Manager a lot lately, and using this quick tweak saves me time.

  • melen001

    Just add Task Manager shortcut to the Windows desktop context menu and it’s listed so now i can access it when needed. I really don’t like going into the registry and we all know why but your explanation is so understandable & to the point that i trust your expertise. I just remembered that right clicking the task bar the Task Manager is available so, why would i need this feature ??? Anyways, it’s done so i will keep it and use it……. it doesn’t hurt….. thanks for the tip…

  • Ashraf

    [@Louis] Ditto.

    [@Janet Berg] Yeah, I use that hotkey often.

  • Janet Berg

    You can also get to the Task Manager with a simple Shift+Ctrl+Esc.

  • Louis

    @linjuju[@jinjuju] Hi, thanks for the advice — I got it going now !

    @Ashraf : Yes, I agree, my Win 7 taskbar was ‘remade’ in more of a Win XP style, and is much ‘thinner’ that the stock Win 7 thick task bar, saving more real estate on my desktop. However, I’ve only got about one small area next to the system time bottom right, if my aim is good, to rightclick that taskbar ! — so clicking anywhere on the desktop is just great.

    @MatthewA : Thanks for this informative article — lately I’ve needed to end and restart the ‘cleanmem’ process quite a lot, and this is a real timesaver and very convenient — doing the ctrl alt del routine was really working on my nerves. And to be honest, to my eternal shame I must admit I actually didn’t know I could access the Task Manager via the taskbar heheh. This method of yours is much better on my system however.

  • jinjuju

    @ Louis,
    did you check out the file associations page?


  • Louis


    I see the entry in the rightclick menu ‘Taskmanager : However, when I click it, the following error message box pops up :

    “Explorer.exe : This file does not have a program assossiated with it for performing this action. Please install a program or, if one is already installed, create an assosciation in the Default Programs control panel. [OK] “”

    How to proceed from here ?

  • Ashraf

    [@Rob Down Under] [@Janet Berg] Some people don’t use the taskbar or hide it. Others find it move convenient to use the right-click context menu which can be brought up by clicking in many more places than the taskbar. Remember, everyone has different needs.

  • Janet Berg

    It’s already in the Taskbar’s r-click context menu, which is always accessible–why would you need it anywhere else as well?

  • Rob Down Under

    You could right click the Taskbar, and click the entry in that menu

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