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Tasklist.exe is a utility to examine your system's running programs. It's not on every version of Windows but a more powerful alternative is available.

What is Tasklist.exe, and why don't I have it?

In several articles here I talk about using a tool called tasklist to determine which services are being provided by the various instances of svchost.

As it turns out that advice is very confusing for some since they don't actually have tasklist. Users with Windows XP Home for one since tasklist.exe is provided only with Windows XP Pro and (I assume) Windows 2003 server.

Fortunately there's an alternative, and it involves one of my favorite tools.

SysInternals makes a free tool called Process Explorer or "procexp". I've referenced it in various articles here because it's a great tool for viewing everything from what processes are running on your machine, to what process is holding a file open. It turns out that it's great for determining which services an instance of a process is providing.

Here's a portion of procexp's display on my machine:

Procexp display

You'll note that there are at least two instances of SVCHOST.EXE running. If we double click on one we get the following:

Procexp display

Note the tab labeled "Services" at the top. If we click on that we'll get something like this:

Procexp display

This instance of SVCHOST happens to be providing 30 separate services to the operating system, from "AudioSrv", aka "Windows Audio", on down.

The information is actually a more detailed than tasklist would provide since it includes the full text name of each service, as well as the descriptive help information for each found at the bottom of the display.

Process Explorer is free and runs on all Windows platforms. The services information we're discussing here only applies to Windows NT based versions which include Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

Article C1924 - April 12, 2004 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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18 Comments
Len
May 10, 2004 6:33 PM

Thanks heaps for this. Much appreciated

JMichael
May 11, 2004 3:06 PM

The information you provide is excellent, can you
recommend a great reference document on "window processes", online or in print. thanks

Leo
May 11, 2004 3:10 PM

Can you tell me what you mean by "Window Processes"?

Brian B
July 20, 2004 7:56 PM

I ran the Process Explorer for SCVHOST.exe and upon opening the details for the SVCHOST.exe taking up 100% usage, I find about 200+ programs. I know this is not normal. There about 100 HKLM or HKCR or some kind of variation. So I'm not sure which to get rid of. And does Process Explorer find them for me?

Leo
July 20, 2004 8:08 PM

Please see my comment in response to your entry in the comments section of this article: http://ask-leo.com/archives/000105.html - what you are seeing is *normal*.

ch1zra
April 25, 2005 6:13 PM

SysInternals is a great company. I use their process explorer instead of XP's built in taskman.
btw, nice page you have leo, keep up the good work :))

vivek
June 3, 2006 2:46 AM

Hi everybody,
i have a question ant process, in which system idle process shows cpu 98%, why is it so
pls reply back, as in 1 of the interviewer asked me the same question,
thanks in advance

Anand
July 10, 2006 4:01 AM

But i need to use it in batch file. Are there any alternatives for tasklist on 2000?

Pranav Vora
September 5, 2006 6:49 AM

hi,
- I want to use it from my program. can I use 'Process Explorer'?
- will tasklist.exe work on win2k? exe is single file which I can add on win2k system or any other depedent files needed?

regards,

Pranav

HJr
September 16, 2006 10:34 AM

Process Explorer now can be found at http://www.sysinternals.com/Utilities/ProcessExplorer.html

Steve
February 16, 2007 7:15 PM

If you have a box with XP pro, you can look in the C:\windows\system32 folder for the program tasklist.exe. From there, it's only a matter of copying it to the C:\windows\system32 drive on your other computer. Know this works with home, not sure about older versions. A.K.A. 2000.

BSmith
February 21, 2007 1:27 PM

Under Win2000 the file is called tlist.exe and is not loaded by default. I just loaded it on my Win2000 computer from by Win 2000 Professional CDROM. Mount the CDROM and extract it from the support.cab file under Support\tools. Put it in C:\windows\system32. Under START, RUN do tlist /? for options. Hope this helps.

gc
April 4, 2007 11:52 PM

Hi all ,

Is there any way to know what processes are running on a remote pc in a a LAN, including what files have been opened and what sites have been opened. I want to do this using command prompt only, using commands like tlist, tasklist, process, etc

Adam
July 13, 2007 2:13 AM

You still havent stated how to get rid of the error! it's really annoying how i have to turn on my pc to this error and have no sound.

Rusty Nail
March 23, 2008 6:42 AM

Process Explorer now can be found at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx

r j
December 25, 2008 1:55 AM

Most of the tasks can also be accessed by pushing control, alt, delete. You can find most of the processes and charts by the tabs on top.

Kleven
January 5, 2009 1:34 PM

i would like to know what should be deleted and what should be kept in the Task Manager. When looking at technicians arrnaging computers i see many of them removing many of these tasks. could you kindly tell me what should be keep and what to remove as my CPU usage is being almost all the time high in its percentage.

Thanks

Kleven

There's no simple or single answer. It depends on your computer, what you have installed, and how you use it all. This article has more: What's the minimum set of processes needed to run Windows XP?
- Leo
06-Jan-2009
FriendlyDutch
April 25, 2009 9:07 AM

It's not just you Leo, who refers to tasklist.exe. Microsoft themselves in kb article (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/875357/?FR=1) which applies to Windows XP Home also refer to tasklist.exe but don't tell you where to find it.

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