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How to restore the good old Task Manager in Windows 8

Some users (including myself) are extremely pissed off with new "modern" task manager in Windows 8. Although some of its functions are not bad, like the "command line" column in the task list or performance graph, I don't really need them. The old Task Manager provides a more consistent way of task management for me, it is familiar and the new one does not even remember the last active tab. So I am definitely one of those who want the good old, more usable Task Manager back in Windows 8. Let me show you how to do that with a few simple steps.

How to restore the good old Task Manager in Windows 8

  1. Download the following ZIP file (containing classic Task Manager files from Windows 8's boot.wim) and unpack the TM folder into the root of your system drive.
    You should get the following:
    How to restore old good Task Manager in Windows 8
  2. Open System Properties and check which version of Windows 8 you are running - x86 and x64. Mine is x64:
    windows 8
  3. Double-click on the appropriate reg file . e.g. click on install_x64.reg file if you have Windows 8 x64 like me, otherwise click on the install_x86.reg file.
  4. That's it! You don't need to reboot, you don't to do anything else. Just press the Ctrl+Shift+Esc keys on your keyboard and enjoy the return of your good old friend:
    old taskmgr on WIndows 8


Note: Import the UNINSTALL_x86_or_x64.reg file to restore the "new" Task Manager of Windows 8 back.

How does it work:

In the example above, I used the old, famous trick  with the "debugger" option. As you may or may not be knowing, you can specify a debugger application for every executable file in Windows. It is possible to set it via the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options

Here you can see a list of executable files. It is possible to create the "debugger" option for every file shown in that list.

The "debugger" option usually contains the full path to the executable file which should act as the debugger. It will get the full path to the running executable file. We can use this to override the executable file of Task Manager.

I have extracted the genuine Taskmgr.exe and Taskmgr.exe.mui from the boot.wim file of Windows 8. But I can't use them directly, because the files have the same names as the new Task Manager from Windows 8. Also, even though replacing them is possible, SFC /scannow will restore the "original" one when it runs. So the files must be renamed before I can set the old Task Manager as the debugger. That's why the file is named "Tm.exe" file in the ZIP archive you downloaded above.

What do you think about the new Task Manager in Windows 8? Do you like it or do you still prefer the old one? Feel free to share your feedback in the comments.

15 thoughts on “How to restore the good old Task Manager in Windows 8

  1. Anders

    I agree with you, and this is a neat and handy article.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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  2. Timmy

    I installed it on my 64bit system and it doesn’t work.

    Windows cannot find “C:\system32\taskmgr.exe”. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again.

    Also you have a typo in your sentence. Its suppose to be shift not shit lol. “Ctrl+Shit+Esc”

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  3. Timmy

    Nevermind, i got it working. You forgot to mention you had to put the TM folder in the C:\ folder.

    “Debugger”=”c:\\TM\\x64\\tm.exe”

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    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Thanks for this. I will fix the article

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    2. fart

      i did that but it still not coming up

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  4. jjm789

    It’s all well and good to have the old task manager back. But this does not solve the problem with Msconfig. You can no longer enable or disable startup items. The new task manager was designated for it. Now what?

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    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      The ‘Sysinternals Autoruns’ software will help you a lot

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      1. jjm789

        Thanks. I installed it and like it. But its a bit confusing since it lists every item in the registry. I don’t even see a tab for startup items.

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    2. ORelio

      The Windows 8 msconfig.exe is the same as the Windows 7 one except than the “Startup” tab was replaced by a link to the task manager. So, using the method described in this article and a Windows 7 iso you can retrieve the Windows 7 msconfig with a fully fonctionnal Startup tab and safely replace the Windows 8 one using the debugger trick.

      The msconfig.exe file can be found in sources\install.wim (Open it with 7-Zip) in the system32 folder. Don’t forget to copy also the msconfig.exe.mui in system32\xx-XX\ when xx-XX is your language code (ex: en-US). Finally, place the files the same way as described in the article (ex: C:\TM\mcfg.exe & C:\TM\xx-XX\mcfg.exe.mui) and edit the setup.reg with notepad to match the new files (replace the “taskmgr.exe” with “msconfig.exe”, replace “TM.exe” with “mcfg.exe”). Apply the .reg file and you’re done.

      Congratulations, you have a fuly working “Startup” tab in msconfig ;)

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  5. Megan

    By the way, Sergey, go back to English school.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

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    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      I learned it from the book. No school for poor Russian guy :)

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  6. Skye-hook

    Thanks so much! This will fix one of the many things I really HATE about Win 8! Win 8 seems like they were told to come up with things that were very different on every detail of windows, whether it makes sense and is intuitive and natural for the human brain. I also really hate that the start screen comes up 1st, & that the start menu is in huge “tiles” instead of a list where I can see most or all apps at a glance, AND I hate that many apps can’t be closed or turned off, so they must shutdown by themselves after ? minutes, I guess. There is more I hate about Win 8, but I’ll stop here. lol:) Again, much thanks!

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  7. Carlos

    Gracias lo descargue y funciono bien, yo tenia un problema puse por defecto el administrador de tareas del tuneup 2013 y cuando lo desinstale no me queria abrir el administrador de tareas instale este archivo y ya funciona todo bien

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  8. Atpug Lausiv

    Hey this trick is extremely cool. I hated the new slow and user unfriendly Windows 8 Task Manager. Replaced it quickly with the classic one.

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    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Enjoy

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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