How to use your Chromebook’s Task Manager

ChromeOS has two Task Manager systems. You can use both to manage your Chromebook’s RAM, battery life, and so much more.

Chromebooks and ChromeOS tablets offer so much more than just a web browsing experience in 2023. The operating system has evolved to include many features that rival even macOS and Windows devices, such as Phone Hub and even a fully-featured video editor. One of the smaller features is a Task Manager.

Even though Chromebooks are known to be lightweight and efficient compared to Windows laptops and MacBooks, there are actually two Task Managers in ChromeOS that you can use to your advantage. One is quite easy to access and designed to see the status of the Chrome web browser and other apps, and it can even kill problematic web pages. A secondary Diagnostics app lets you peek at CPU usage, and battery statistics, peek at other system stats, and runs diagnostics you’re probably familiar with from a Windows device.

So if you just got a new Chromebook or are already a Chromebook pro, here are some tips on how you can use them both to peek at system tasks and determine why your Chromebook might be running slow, and so much more.

How to use the primary ChromeOS Task Manager

The main ChromeOS Task Manager

The first Task Manager we’ll get into in ChromeOS is what we’ll call the “primary” Task Manager. This offers a look at the overall memory footprint of your Chromebook, CPU usage, as well as network usage. You even get a ProccessID to help tell Linux, Android, and Progressive Web Apps apart. This is the basic Task Manager to go to if you want to end a rogue task or kill a rogue tab or app that isn’t responding.

  1. Open the ChromeOS Task Manager by tapping the Search button and Esc on your keyboard.
    • As an alternative, you can open Chrome, right-click on the menu bar and choose Task Manager, too.
  2. There will be four basic columns. Task is the name of the task running. Memory footprint is the overall memory being used by the app. Network shows how much of the network the app is using. Process ID is the ID for the process.
  3. To end a process that’s not responding, click that process first, so it is highlighted in blue, and then chose End process.
    The expanded view in the ChromeOS task manager
  4. You can add additional details to the Task Manager. Just right-click on any task and choose one of the selections from the menu. You can pick things like Profile, Swapped memory, Image cache, GPU memory, and more technically savvy things like CSS cache or NaCi debug port.

That’s all there is to the primary ChromeOS Task Manager. It’s pretty basic compared to the Windows Task Manager, but you get to the necessary functions like killing an unresponsive webpage or a Linux or Android app that might be frozen. When paired with the ChromeOS Diagnostics app, though, you can get a better overall look at system performance, as we’ll get into next.

How to use the Diagnostics app

ChromeOS Diagnostics App

For a more in-depth (and graphical) look at how your Chromebook is running, you’ll want to use the ChromeOS Diagnostics app. This app shows things like a graph of the overall CPU usage, the battery health, and how much RAM is installed on your Chromebook. Other than that, you also can use it to see information about the local network, like your IP Address, and SSID. Unlike the primary Task Manager, though, there’s no keyboard shortcut for this one, and you’ll have to find it manually. Here’s how to get started with it.

  1. Open the ChromeOS launcher by clicking the circular icon at the lower left of your screen. You also can tap the Search or Everything Button on your keyboard.
  2. Type in the term Diagnostics and click on the first result.
  3. You’ll see the primary System tab on the left. Under Battery, you’ll see information like battery size, battery life, discharge/charge status, and cycle count. Then, under CPU, you’ll also see a graphical presentation of how the CPU is being used. Memory is where you see how much RAM is being used.
  4. For each of these categories, you can run diagnostic tests by clicking Run test. ChromeOS will show you if it passed or failed. You can save the results as a .txt file by clicking Save test details. This can then be emailed to a technician or administrator.
    The ChromeOS Diagnostics app with a results page open up
  5. Under the Connectivity section, you’ll see basic network information.

So if your Chromebook isn’t acting right, or something seems slow, that’s how you can use the Task Manager or Diagnostics app to peek at the system status. It’s quite easy, and there’s not much to it! Even though I use a Chromebook that has 16GB RAM, I often use the Diagnostics app myself to see how much RAM my Chromebook is using at any given moment. I also love the battery diagnostics, as it’s a great way to see how my screen brightness and browsing habits are impacting overall battery health.