In Windows 11 you can enable the End Task context menu for the taskbar to terminate any running app. This option is pretty convenient, as you don't need to switch to the app window, click its close window or press Alt + F4. You just right-click the taskbar icon, and close the software you no longer need.
While the option to close a window present in all Windows version, including the legacy ones, the "End task" feature is new to Windows 11. It is quite different, as it does a forced termination of a process. Here are some details.
There are multiple three ways to close an app or window. You can click the "X" button in window title bar. Also, you can achieve the same by using the Alt + F4 key combination. Finally, you can exit your running software by selecting the "Close window" item from the context menu of the its icon on the taskbar.
But if your app hangs, the reviewed methods will most likely fail. To terminate a frozen software, you should either use the Task Manager, or a taskkill console command.
Finally, Microsoft has made things much easier. Starting with Windows 11 23H2 , you can terminate programs forcibly with a new context menu option available in the taskbar context menu for an app. It is simply called "End Task".
Unlike the “Close windows” entry, the “End task” option closes all processes for the select app, including those that run in the background. So it will kill the whole process tree.
By default, the End Task command is hidden and not enabled. There are at least two methods to activate it.
To enable the End Task option for the taskbar context menu, do the following.
Enable End Task for the Taskbar Context Menu
- Open the Settings app by pressing Win + I on the keyboard.
- Click on System on the left, and then select For Developers on the right.
- Scroll down the right side down to the End Task section, and toggle enable the option.
- Close the Settings app.
You are done. As a result, a new "End task" item will become visible in the context menu for all running app icons in the taskbar.
Tip: You can directly open the "For developers" settings page by using the ms-settings:developers command. Type it in the Run dialog (Win + R), and hit Enter.
Alternatively, you can enable the option in the Registry. There are several methods for that. Let's review them too.
Turn on the End Task item in the Registry
- Press Win + R, type regedit in the Run box, and hit Enter to open the Registry Editor app.
- Navigate to HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\TaskbarDeveloperSettings on the left. You can simply paste this path to the address box to go to the key directly.
- If you don't have DeveloperSettings, right-click the Advanced subkey in the left pane, and select New > Key from the menu. Name it DeveloperSettings.
- If you have the TaskbarEndTask value in the right pane, double-click it and set it to 1.
- Otherwise, right-click the DeveloperSettings key in the left pane, and select New > Dword (32-bit) value from the menu.
- Name the new value TaskbarEndTask, and double-click it.
- Set its value data to 1. This will instantly enable the new context menu for apps in the taskbar.
Finally, to save your time, i have created two ready-to-use Registry files. You can download them here:
Extract the ZIP archive you have downloaded and open one of the following files.
enable_end_task_item.reg- turns on the context menu item.
disable_end_task_item.reg- hides the command. this is its default state as of this writing.
If you prefer to change the Registry from batch files or command prompt, here is an additional option for you.
The command prompt method
Right-click the Start button, and select Terminal from the menu. Note: You need the regular Terminal, not the "Admin" one.
Now in the Command prompt (Ctrl + Shift + 2) or PowerShell tab (Ctrl + Shift + 1) type and run the following command:
reg add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\TaskbarDeveloperSettings /v TaskbarEndTask /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
This will enable the End Task item in the right-click menu for app icons in the taskbar.
The undo command looks as follows:
reg add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\DeveloperSettings /v TaskbarEndTask /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
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