How to Identify and Kill Any Process in Windows 10

For the most part, Windows 10 programs function just fine, but when one misbehaves it’s often necessary to kill its process. At times, apps can refuse to close, get stuck on a blank screen, or suddenly consume a lot of system resources. Terminating the task will force it to close and free up your system for normal functioning.

Identifying and killing a process of single windows and background apps

There are various ways to kill a process, but all of them make use of an application’s PID (Process ID), a unique identifier that ensures only the correct one is terminated. However, it’s worth noting that terminating a specific application process can still have knock-on effects on the rest of the program’s functions if they rely on it.

The most common way in Windows to terminate a process is through Task Manager. But today we’ll also be covering how to kill a process with PowerShell, how use the taskkill command in Command Prompt, how to find a process ID with Process Explorer (Microsofts ooptional advanced Task Manager) and using a two-click-method via a task bar button.

Different methods to kill a process for different needs

Some programs run several processes at once which means if you want to terminate the application completely you will have to kill all those processes. And there are cases where you will have a program window or system dialog but cannot identify the underlying process. In our tutorial you will find solutions for all of those issues.

How to Kill a Process in Windows 10 with Task Manager

Task Manager is the bread and butter of Windows 10 task killers, providing a simple interface with all the information users need to make informed decisions about which applications they should close. Accessing it is as easy as pressing “Ctrl + Shift + Esc”.

  1. View more details


    After opening Task Manager with “Ctrl + Shift + Esc”, press the “More details” button in the bottom left to view more information.

    Windows 10 - Task Manager - open more details

  2. Select the process you want to kill and click “End task”


    You can also press the “Delete” key instead to save some time.

    Windows 10 - Task Manager - Kill Process

  3. OR: Find an individual process and terminate it


    Click the “Details” tab, find your process, and click “End Task” or press “Delete”.

    Windows 10 - Task Manager - Kill Process in details view

How to Kill a Process with the Taskkill Command

If task manager isn’t an option because you’re using a Windows server install or it’s blocked by your administrator, you can achieve similar results through the use of the taskkill command in Command Prompt.

  1. Open Command Prompt


    Press the Windows key and type “Command Prompt”, then choose “Run as administrator”.

    Windows 10 - Open Elevated Command Prompt

  2. Run the tasklist command


    You can get a quick readout of all the currently running processes, much like Task Manager, by typing tasklist | more and pressing “Enter”

    Windows 10 - CMD admin - tasklist - processes with IDs

  3. Run the taskkill command to kill the process


    Type taskkill /F /PID x, where x is replaced by your process’ PID.

    Windows 10 - CMD admin - taskkill PID

  4. OR: Use taskkill to kill a process by its name


    If you know the name of the process’ .exe file, you can optionally use that to kill the task instead:

    taskkill /IM "yourprocess.exe" /F


    Windows 10 - CMD admin - taskkill process by name

How to Terminate a Process with PowerShell

Alternatively, those familiar with PowerShell can use it kill tasks instead. This has the advantage of quite intuitive commands.

  1. Open PowerShell as an admin


    Press “Windows + X” to open the fly-out menu, then click “Windows PowerShell (Administrator)”.

    Windows 10 - Open PowerShell as Admin

  2. Get a list of processes


    In PowerShell, type Get-Process to have it return a list of all of the currently running processes on your PC and their PID.

    Windows 10 - PowerShell admin - Get-Process (1)

  3. Use PowerShell stop process to kill the task


    To stop the process, type the following, substituting the x for the relevant PID:

    Stop-Process -ID x -Force

    Windows 10 - PowerShell admin - Stop-Process via ID

  4. OR: Kill process by name in PowerShell


    As with command prompt, you can also kill one or more processes at once in PowerShell by their name. This time, however, you’ll need its system name rather than its .exe file. For example:

    Stop-Process -Name "YourPhone" -Force

    Windows 10 - PowerShell admin - Stop-Process via Name

How to Identify the Process of any Open System Dialog or Program Window with Process Explorer

As you’ve likely realized by now, scrolling through a giant list to get the name or PID of an application can be an annoyance. To remedy this, you can use Microsoft’s Process Explorer.

  1. Download Process Explorer


    Head to Microsoft’s Process Explorer documentation and press the “Download Process Explorer” button to download the application.

    Windows 10 - Download Process Explorer

  2. Run Process Explorer


    Head to the folder you downloaded the application to and double-click “Procexp64.exe” or “proxexp.exe” depending on whether your system is 64 or 32-bit.

    Windows 10 - Launch Process Explorer

  3. Kill a process with Process Explorer


    You can use Process Explorer much like Task manager by clicking the application and pressing the ‘x’ button in the top toolbar to stop it.

    Windows 10 - Process Explorer - Kill Process

  4. Optional: Use the identification crosshair


    Alternatively, if you don’t know the name of the application or its process, click the target button in the top toolbar.

    Windows 10 - Process Explorer - Identify Process by Windows

  5. Drag the target to the process you want to identify


    The process will then be automatically selected in the list and you can stop it as normal.

    Windows 10 - Process Explorer - Identify Process by Window - Drag Symbol

How to Kill Any Window-related Process Directly with just Two Clicks

Though all of the above methods work just fine, if you find yourself having to kill tasks regularly they still aren’t ideal. For such use cases, we recommend Grizzly Bear’s “Kill”, a tiny 205KB app that you can pin to your taskbar to kill window process with two clicks.

  1. Download Kill


    Go to the dcmembers site and download the Kill.exe freeware by pressing the big blue “Download” button.

    Windows-10-Download-Kill.exe

  2. Pin Kill.exe to the taskbar


    In the kill folder, right-click “Kill.exe” and select “Pin to taskbar”.

    Windows 10 - Pin Kill.exe to Taskbar

  3. Kill any window process with Kill.exe


    To kill a process, simply click the button on your taskbar and then click on the application window.

    Windows 10 - Kill Window-Prcess with two clicks (1)

If you found this tutorial helpful, you may also be interested in our guides about changing process affinity and OneDrive syncing any directory via mklink.