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 and msconfig.exe to manage startup apps) and unpack the installer to any folder you want.
    You should get the following: Classic Taskmgr Unpack Installer
  2. Double-click on the classic-taskmgr+msconfig-win8-win10.exe file and follow the setup wizard. It will register the classic Task Manager app (and msconfig.exe if you keep it) in the operating system. Classic Taskmgr Installer 1 Classic Taskmgr Installer 2
  3. 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: To restore the "new" Task Manager of Windows 8 back, go to Control Panel\Programs\Programs and Features. There, you can uninstall classic apps and restore defaults.

Uninstall Classic Task Manager

Tip: we have a standalone msconfig package here. Refer to the following article: Get classic msconfig.exe back in Windows 10 and Windows 8.

The package supports both Windows 10 32-bit and Windows 10 64-bit. It comes with almost the full set of MUI files, so it will be in your native language out-of-the-box. The following locale list is supported:

ar-sa
bg-bg
cs-cz
da-dk
de-de
el-gr
en-gb
en-us
es-es
es-mx
et-ee
fi-fi
fr-ca
fr-fr
he-il
hr-hr
hu-hu
it-it
ja-jp
ko-kr
lt-lt
lv-lv
nb-no
nl-nl
pl-pl
pt-br
pt-pt
ro-ro
ru-ru
sk-sk
sl-si
sr-latn-rs
sv-se
th-th
tr-tr
uk-ua
zh-cn
zh-hk
zh-tw

The installer is required only to install MUI files and register apps. It doesn't modify anything else in your operating system.

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.

34 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.

    Reply
  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”

    Reply
  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”

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Thanks for this. I will fix the article

      Reply
    2. fart

      i did that but it still not coming up

      Reply
  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?

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      The ‘Sysinternals Autoruns’ software will help you a lot

      Reply
      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.

        Reply
    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 ;)

      Reply
      1. John McElhaney

        I tried your solution to get the startup tab in msconfig under win 8.1 I cant seem to get it working ! what is mcfg.exe ? (msconfig.exe)?

        Reply
        1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

          It looks like we need another tutorial here,
          Added to my TO DO list.

          Reply
  5. Megan

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

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

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

      Reply
    2. Daniel

      Why do there always have to be pricks like this?

      Here’s a guy investing time into writing articles to help out other people for free. Some people are convinced to donate something in gratitude – and then there’s people who just have to find a way to be an arsehole about it.

      Really, Megan, the Internet could be such a nice place if people like you just stayed away from it. We all thought the Internet could be the thing that connects people and information, but you’re the reason why today it’s mostly just a cesspit of people shouting insults at each other for no reason. Ultimately driving nice people like Sergey, who want to contribute something, to at some point wonder “why do I bother?” and quit. I’ve seen it happen many times, and it’s a shame.

      Respect, Sergey, for taking this with humour, probably the only valid response here apart from ignoring the trolls. Unfortunately, I can’t always be that decent and above things. Megan does not deserve a reply this long, but it goes out representatively to all the millions of other trolls out there just like her:

      Please, Megan, do everyone a favour, get lost and don’t show up on any other website, ever again. You don’t deserve people’s goodwill or help, or the results of their work, because you’re an ungrateful drain of resources, siphoning energy out of people without ever giving anything back. You don’t have a way to earn people’s respect by doing something positive, so you resort to being offensive to at least earn their attention. I guess it worked on me. You’re not capable of contributing anything constructive to the world, so lay off the ones who are, and be absolutely silent until you have something to say that is of any value to anyone, whatsoever.

      Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Enjoy

      Reply
  9. Chris

    THANKS! Massive help :)

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      You are welcome

      Reply
  10. Steve F

    TY, very helpful article. I donated a few bucks. Hope to see the tutorial for the msconfig fix soon.

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Thank you. Added to my to do list.

      Reply
  11. Andrea Borman

    I actually managed to get the Task manager from Windows 3.11 working on Windows 8. most of the old software from early versions of Windows will run on 8 though I have 32 bit.
    Andrea Borman.

    Reply
  12. Jerry

    Instead of replacing the functionality completely I chose to add a new shortcut to my start menu and assign a global shortcut to it — e.g. or anything you like.

    This way you have both versions at hand.

    For Non-English versions of the host OS the appropriate language version of the MUI file has to be extracted from the install CD (or a running computer with Windows 7 installed).

    Reply
  13. a

    In article:
    “I have extracted the genuine Taskmgr.exe and Taskmgr.exe.mui from the boot.wim file of Windows 8”

    8? True?

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      True.
      Check the file version yourself.

      Reply
  14. Alex Marcio

    Sergey,

    Is it still possible to download the old task manager files for WIndows 8?

    I just tried right now (Feb 5, 2017) and was given the error message that the file could not be found when I visited the following download link that you provided: https://winaero.com/request.php?43

    Please let me know.

    Thanks,
    Alex

    Reply
  15. Daniel

    Hi Sergey, thank you for the article and the files. It’s definitely much more comfortable than the new task manager. As a developer and power user, not having to constantly choose the same options over and over again, because the new app is too stupid to remember any of its settings, definitely adds up in time and clicks saved. I really wonder how a company like Microsoft can release something so buggy and unfinished with a commercial product, and not fix it for years.

    However, do you know of a way that I can prevent Windows from respecting the “Debugger” setting explicitly for a single run? I definitely want to keep the old task manager as a default, but very rarely I’d like to use a feature of the new one. Right now, I always rename the registry key, start the new task manager, then rename it back. It would be nice to have a way of explicitly skipping attaching the debugger when requested.

    Reply
    1. Daniel

      Never mind, I resorted to an ugly workaround that works fine enough for me :)
      Copy the executable of the new task manager to a new name, and explicitly run it from there. IFEO seems to match executables based only on filename, so if it’s renamed, it can’t recognise it anymore and won’t attach the Debugger.

      Reply
    2. Daniel

      Actually, the workaround doesn’t work, I’m way too fast with the posting today! (Would you mind deleting my previous reply?)

      It turns out that the new task manager crashes if it’s not named Taskmgr.exe. The window will be blank, and after a few clicks it will crash. Again, the poor quality of this application, just like that of most of the new “app-style” stock tools, is almost mind-boggling.

      Reply
  16. Anixx

    Would not it be better to use the debugger trick for msconfig as well, so not to have two msconfig entries in the control panel (and no UAC prompt when calling rthe Classic one)?

    Reply
  17. Anixx

    This is how I use the debugger trick for MSConfig. It would be great if it were included in the package (instead of creating the second menu entry)

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\msconfig.exe]
    “Debugger”=”C:\\Windows\\System32\\msconfig1.exe”

    Reply

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