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The Windows XP Task Manager saves most of the settings, but every time it starts, it always sorts the processes by PID. I want it to start up sorted by process name (Base Name column) since I always end up clicking the column header to do that when I start Task Manager anyway.

Is there a way to get this to work? I have looked at the Task Manager settings in the registry, but they are not in any sort of human-readable format.

Any ideas? Thanks a lot.

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The built-in Task Manager doesn't do this, but I'm fairly certain Process Explorer saves your view each time you start it. It also has a lot more functionality and has an option to replace task manager completely.

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Thanks; I’m very familiar with Mark’s tools. Unfortunately ProcExp is much more resource hungry than TaskMgr on an older system like mine. I wonder if there is a way to hack it… I’ll give it a try soon. – Synetech Feb 15 '10 at 0:58
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I had considered hacking the executable file (taskmgr.exe) to see if there were a way to build this into it, but went with a decidedly easier and less risky method.

Since it amounts to a standard list-view control, what I did was to write an application that can detect if Task Manager is running, and if so, to hook into its list-control and perform the sort (by simulating a column click; I didn’t feel like manually sorting). It took a while to get it to be flexible enough to account for variations (especially since the columns are customizable), and then to allow for sorting on a different column—I figured I may as well have the option.

Unfortunately it means an extra program running in the background, but I already have plans for incorporating it into a more general-purpose app so that it’s not a one-function process, thus making it more acceptable to have it running because it does more things.

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Oh, and I just noticed that the Task Manager in Windows 7 does save the sort column and direction. – Synetech Jul 26 '11 at 2:22

As Tom's Hardware claims, the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\TaskManager has 2 settings that may hold the default column sort order. Unfortunately, the data is in hex and I have no idea what the settings correspond to specifically. Perhaps Synetech can figure it out?

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Thanks for the reference; I’ll look into it. However, if it is stored, then why is it not re-stored when you run the TaskManager? I wonder if it is a bug… Then again, that person said possibly through those settings, so I suspect that it is not in fact saved. – Synetech Sep 4 '11 at 18:15

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