Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

If Windows Task Manager doesn't have a menu or tabs, then it is probably running in what's called "Tiny Footprint" mode.

Why does Task Manager suddenly have no menu or tabs?

Windows Task Manager has a mode that maximizes the data display by hiding the menu and title bar.

It's easy to accidentally get Task Manager into that mode.

It's just as easy to get it out.

Task Manager

Task Manager as we normally expect it

This is what you normally see when you open Task Manager. It varies slightly from version to version of Windows, but the issue that we're dealing with here has not.

Here's the version that you're probably seeing:

Task Manager in 'tiny footprint' mode

Note that there is no menu bar or window title bar. This is the so-called "tiny footprint"† mode.

Switching modes

Double-click anywhere in the empty area around the information display:

Double-click to change modes

This is actually a toggle - double-click in normal mode and you'll get tiny footprint. Double-click in tiny footprint and you'll get normal.

Typically, that's the accident that got you here - somehow, the window was double-clicked on.

There's actually a Knowledgebase Article on it, based on Windows XP.

† No, I don't know why it's called "tiny footprint". It's certainly not smaller; in fact, the displayed data takes up more, not less, of the display area. Perhaps the idea is that you can then resize the tiny footprint window to be significantly smaller and still display meaningful data.

(This is an update to an article originally published June 20, 2004.)

Article C2076 - May 28, 2011 « »

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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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67 Comments
Eule
September 27, 2004 11:20 AM

From MS-Support-Page:

SYMPTOMS
The menu bar and tabs may not be visible in Task Manager.
CAUSE
This behavior may occur if Task Manager is running in Tiny Footprint mode. If you double-click the empty space in the border around the tabs, Task Manager switches to this mode.
RESOLUTION
To switch Task Manager to its typical display mode, double-click the top border of the window.
MORE INFORMATION
When Task Manager is running in Tiny Footprint mode, you can resize the window.

Nic
June 24, 2005 1:44 AM

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I REALLY like your site- so helpful.

BRENT
January 10, 2006 5:26 AM

I cannot get TASK MANAGER to open at all! What would cause this?

Thanks

Leo
January 10, 2006 10:46 AM

What happens when you try? What happens when you Start->Run and type in "taskmgr" and press OK?

mahen
February 9, 2006 9:35 AM

its says another program is currently using this file

Anewrys
March 10, 2006 1:05 AM

I have the same problem mahen has its says another program is currently using this file. what can i do?

Travis Snyder
May 21, 2006 8:37 PM

it says another program is my task manager too and i cant figure out how to get it back. :(

asdf
August 5, 2006 2:49 PM

double click the bar with the red mark

greenlight
August 9, 2006 12:01 PM

It could have just had a box for (advanced) I looked for a while before double clicking on the border. Do other windows processes share that feature, meaning you have to guess when to click the border to get the advanced settings?

Criss
August 19, 2006 12:01 PM

my task bar is at the bottom of my screen, i used to be able to open a program, minimize it and see it in the task bar - now it is always empty and when i minamize a program, i have no way to retrieve it. what do i do?

Leo A. Notenboom
August 25, 2006 10:28 AM

That's this article: http://ask-leo.com/why_dont_running_programs_show_in_my_taskbar.html

Cort Lillard
March 17, 2007 5:54 PM

hey i have been also been hiving the problem as the other people when i ctrl-shft-esc, ctrl-alt-del, or open it from win system32 it says its in use by anothe program, when there are no other programs running, even when i do start programs there seems to be no problems with thoes either.... that would be great if you would kindly help me with this

Sandeep Gill
June 7, 2007 11:38 PM

It's too simple just double click on any where on the task manager window & u ill get back ur Task manager Menu or Tabs.

Bob
September 5, 2007 2:32 PM

"It's too simple just double click on any where on the task manager window & u ill get back ur Task manager Menu or Tabs."

Geez you saved my life. Damn i was so dumb, and the worte thing is i work as a technician :s. I guess you cant know it all

Nikki
September 18, 2007 12:43 PM

Thanks a lot! It actually worked..................its been driving me nuts! for almost 3 months. I am soooo happy.

Saundra Bruce
December 15, 2007 2:02 PM

I love it when things are so simple. Thanks for the advice. You're a genuis.

K. Stoyanov
April 17, 2008 11:01 PM

How does Task menager inter this "Tiny Footprint Mode" by himself?

Rose
April 27, 2008 10:18 PM

thanks! at first a virus infected my task manager. when it's working again, the menu bar doesn't show up. i thought it's still infected with a virus. haha ^____^

berto
May 24, 2008 1:24 AM

lol! I thought my task manager is infected with a virus because ive lost the title bar,menu and tabs..
"double click anywhere in the form of task manager is the solution". What the!

marcus
July 4, 2008 10:18 PM

hmms . i can't even open my task manager , and solutions ?

alex
August 15, 2008 12:43 AM

wow another thanks to you man


lol ur amazing

Mya
August 15, 2008 1:44 AM

I was going to do a clean install to get my Task Manager back!!!!!!!! Thank You Leo for such a simply wonderful easy fix.

Ali
September 7, 2008 8:43 PM

Thanks for the wonderful advice.

Renee
September 13, 2008 8:51 AM

You have no idea what was going thru my mind when the tabs disappeared! I figurerd for sure it was a virus. Thanks! I am going to tell everyone I fixed it myself.

David Chesler
September 23, 2008 11:12 AM

Just another reader grateful to have found this article. Thank you, and thank you Google menu bar suggestions feature.

Carlos Ribeiro
October 10, 2008 11:11 AM

my computer does not open task maneager only apears a blank blue screen and when i make alt+ctrl+del apears the message 'TASK MANAGER HAS BEEN DESACTIVATED BY ADMINITRATOR' and does nothing. I have already reinstalled windows xp home and nothing seems to resolve it.

That's malware of some sort, and you must be getting infected again after your reinstall. Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware scans are happening and above all up to date. Then have a look at this article: Why is my Task Manager disabled, and how do I fix it?
- Leo
11-Oct-2008

Andy Roberts
October 31, 2008 5:07 AM

That has been bugging me for so long and it was so simple to resolve! Thanks!

Ton
November 12, 2008 9:47 PM

Thanks!!! I was already thinking about having to do a clean windows install to fix this. Wow, what a F'd up feature is that. It makes you wonder what else you shouldn't double-click on.

Jorgeb
November 24, 2008 10:36 AM

jajajaj, It was driving me crazy LOL. THANKS!!!

Ben
November 25, 2008 7:59 PM

Wow. Sometimes you think you know what you're doing, and then something like this stumps you. Thanks!

FWA3
January 2, 2009 1:45 PM

never even heard of this mode or option and i've been running xp pro since day 1. how stupid. and i thought i had some crazy virus.

M Rob
February 3, 2009 2:21 PM

Great Stuff, i really thought it was a virus too.. but was planning to restore the system to later date... has this failed i really paniced ... scanned the whole system nothing found.

when released that i need the online help to see if i fix the problem.

thanks to u i have sovled my problem ... have learned something new....

rob....

Jan
April 3, 2009 12:44 PM

UNBELIEVABLE!! "Typical" Microsoft 'send-u-in-the-bush' fun by BGee. Just like this one: "click start button to shutdown pc". Duhhh!
I have, for the last 5 months, searched on and of
on the MS support site and local help files for this bug. Just by chance out of (google) millions, I click on Leo's page(is he dutch just like I am?) and find, "Why does Task Manager suddenly have no Menu or Tabs?" Absolutely fabulous here but why not possible on the MS support page. Typical HUH!? Btw, why did this problem occur on my pc anyway? I did not initiate it!? I click the link, 'knowledgebase article', and Leo sends me directly to that page below. WOW!! Your site Leo, is bookmarked.

But then the solution, "mijn broek zakt er van af", translation: "my pants really dropped on my ankles". So stupid it is... 'just double click the top bar of the window pane'. Tip to Leo: why don't you put that sentence/solution on this page so we don't have to click that link article ID:193050? Phew!

Article ID: 193050 - Last Review: May 7, 2007 - Revision: 2.3
Task Manager Menu Bar and Tabs Are Not Visible
View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q193050

Have a great one,

jan

Christina
September 27, 2009 9:35 AM

You say that this is "Tiny Footprint Mode". This is our BRAND NEW Dell desk top computer and not even 30 days old but we bought it from WalMart. How doe I get it off the "Tiny Footprint Mode"?

Click through to the knowledgebase article referenced in the article you just commented on.
Leo
28-Sep-2009

ian
November 10, 2009 3:29 PM

thank you so much been bugging me for weeks was starting to think i had virus malware or something was contumpating a wipe and reinstall lmao thank god i found this

cali
January 17, 2010 12:34 PM

Thanks, I could not find out how to get back the tabs and menu items but I read your knowledge base article and found the answer. Thanks so much =)

Leong
April 27, 2010 9:13 PM

Fantastic, just double click solve my problem. Thanks to everyone.

chuck
May 3, 2010 3:23 PM

WHY IS THERE EVEN AN OPTION TO HIDE THE FILE MENU BAR?? sheesh!!!!

Praseetha
July 25, 2010 10:29 AM

Thankyou so much. your article helped. This problem bugged me for more than an hour. thanks again - praseetha

trezuresnheven
April 26, 2011 2:57 PM

ty so much..I too was thinking this was a virus problem..double clicked and bingo..it fixed the problem..

Greg Neilson
May 31, 2011 8:23 AM

Your amazing Leo, keep up the good work.
Thanks, Greg

doninaugusta
May 31, 2011 11:15 AM

Thanks a lot, Leo. I thought that someone had gotten into my pc and made changes. Your 'double-click' fix worked perfectly. I read every single one of your articles.

Pam G
June 1, 2011 6:22 AM

Thanks so much for this. So simple, yet fixes a very frustrating problem!

Patrik a.k.a. Bambooz
June 3, 2011 8:59 AM

"† No, I don't know why it's called "tiny footprint". It's certainly not smaller; in fact, the displayed data takes up more, not less, of the display area. Perhaps the idea is that you can then resize the tiny footprint window to be significantly smaller and still display meaningful data."

some tabs will become like.. zoomed in. just try it while being on the "performance" tab.
instead of showing you the CPU load, RAM and swapfile usage and other details at the bottom, it'll only show the CPU load thingy, but in the whole window and not just a portion of it.

this can be quite useful as you can resize it in ways that wouldn't be possible in the normal view (see pics linked below)

http://bambooz.pytalhost.net/ask-leo/taskmanager1.jpg
http://bambooz.pytalhost.net/ask-leo/taskmanager2.jpg

PS: for those saying the "bargraph square" is pointless because of vista's/sevens's desktop widgets: this works all the way back to Windows 2000 and maybe even NT4 (i think.. been some time since i last worked with NT4).. so it's waaaay before the time of the windows sidebar with its widgets ;)

PPS: i'm having some troubles posting this comment (timeouts). sorry if i posted this multiple times :/

Michael
June 3, 2011 3:26 PM

Yeah. I have been trying to figure this out off and on. I can't help to wonder why MS does things like this. Everything is a big secret for them.

Anonymous
August 25, 2011 12:11 AM

I just laughed at myself after finding out that I just have to double click the side of it. Two thumbs up Leo!!! I checked other steps and they instruct to run sfc, etc etc. which they're making it hard for themselves to make it work.

luba
August 25, 2011 9:27 PM

thanks!! I thought i caught some virus

Karen
October 12, 2011 6:43 PM

Hi, thank you so much for that quick and easy answer!! I thought I had a virus that my checker wasn't catching! You are awesome!

MrEARTHSHAcKER
October 16, 2011 1:21 AM

Haha funny!
Thanks for double click it works.
I accidentally pressed something somewhere within task manager window and it just lost all "side" stuff.

Srinivas
October 18, 2011 12:23 PM

Thanks a lot for you guidance.
This really worked.
This is the 4th tip from you I have used today.
My run command got disabled, regedit is blocked and task manager is blocked. You solved almost all of my problems. Thanks a lot.

rkay
October 23, 2011 10:29 PM

double clik worked ..tk u v m

Mike Brogan
November 16, 2011 7:12 AM

Thank's for that, it;s been driving me crazy.

David
November 19, 2011 6:46 PM

That's the stupidest feature I've ever seen in windows...Thanks for knowing the solution...you are now my #1 windows reference guide! Also going to download process explorer per your recommendation.

Jim Shue
December 16, 2011 9:28 PM

Wow.. When I did the "double click fix" I felt just a teeny weeny bit dumber.. Ha!
I searched for a couple of hours yesterday and just got on it fresh today.
Ran across your fix after opening about three pages of runaround and cannot believe how straight forward and easy your site is.
Leo! you stand way above the rest!
Thanks!
James T. Shue

* Oh, and to the fine folks reading this , if you feel it appropriate check out the "Tip Jar" at the bottom right of this page. I don't mean to be cheap but I'm in for a "Cup-o-Joe"
Thanks again Leo!
JTS

Muhummed
December 17, 2011 2:08 AM

Thanks So Much Leo..
I thought my PC was hacked... and it was just this simple..
This really Helped...

Coymax
January 14, 2012 12:02 AM

Thank you so much Leo, I thought my pc has virus. You same me a lot of time.. thanks again

April
February 16, 2012 10:18 AM

Thanks, I had no idea. It goes in to tiny mode depending on which tab you start out on it will be different. I was on the applications tab when it went to tiny mode.

JPLeighton
April 24, 2012 7:14 AM

Thank you so much. You will think that this feature should be on the top of the form, not the side.

Anita
June 6, 2012 2:24 AM

Thanks Leo, I thought my PC was infected.

ehsan amiri
June 15, 2012 5:33 AM

very very thanks
I thought my pc has virus.
gratitude.

Dana
June 21, 2012 12:25 PM

You and google are Awesome! I had gone a few days wondering how to solve this problem. And then I took a whack at googling: "lost tabs on task manager window." Google even auto-suggested part of the query. You're answer was about 4 down on the first page of results, and was the first I chose, as the heading looked relevant.

Dana
June 21, 2012 12:34 PM

Just commented and wanted to add this. Too bad Microsoft doesn't give novice users a clue, like: "Double click window frame to restore tabs." And then: "[Click here] to hide this tip." for the advanced users. That could cure a lot of headaches.

Suhail
June 25, 2012 8:51 AM

I had an issue with a Trojan that disabled my task manager, managed to find a solution using Google. This happened after that. Such a simple solution.. Not even something thats required.. Thanks for the simple solution.

kwin
December 27, 2012 1:14 AM

The power of double clicking.
I feel so stupid. haha.

thank you for this!

ali farshian
January 27, 2013 11:57 PM

thanks for your help .

Melody Scott
February 21, 2013 5:55 AM

Thanks so much. I am forever amazed and eternally grateful that the internet is full of experts who solve problems for free. I did get into tiny footprint mode by accident as described, and I had never heard of it before. Task manager looks very odd that way.

hussamaldine
March 14, 2013 4:22 AM

thanks you help me

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