After replacing the default Windows task manager with Sysinternals’ process explorer via the Options → Replace task manager menu, how do you undo that action, i.e. restore the original task manager? I’ve already tried clicking that menu again, but it doesn’t do anything.

3 Answers 3


Delete the subkey Debugger of the registry key HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\taskmgr.exe.

In cmd, you can accomplish this by running (as admin): reg delete "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\taskmgr.exe" /v Debugger.

  • 9
    the answer is almost perfect, just add that you need to run cmd as admin
    – kaosmos
    Jan 29, 2019 at 20:11
  • 4
    According to the help documentation it's meant to change to "Restore Task Manager" but there must be a bug which doesn't correctly detect which state its in. Jul 3, 2020 at 1:23
  • Don't delete the whole key, just delete the Debugger string value.
    – Wasif
    Sep 23, 2020 at 11:08
  • Yes, this worked fine in v16.12. It was not a "Restore Task Manager" but it had a checkmark like the other entries and was uncheckable. Now with new Laptop I installed lates v16.32 and there the menu entry does not behave correctly anymore. :-(
    – Vampire
    May 10, 2021 at 21:41
  • Actually it is a bug in the 64-bit version. Starting the 32-bit version the menu entry behaves as it should, so you can use the 32-bit version to first make it the default and then restore the vanilla one. I guess there is some string comparison that does not consider the changed name for the 64-bit executable.
    – Vampire
    May 10, 2021 at 21:46

maybe they fixed that in the latest versions?

ugh another post in microsoft forums suggests to

  1. run procexp.exe (the 32-bit version, not procexp64.exe), choose Options -> Replace Task Manager there
  2. close it
  3. call task manager, so the 32-bit procexp is opened, and go to Options -> Restore Task Manager.

I am on Windows 10 Now I didn't see that happen, 32-bit procexp still writes "Replace Task Manager" But if I open procexp.exe as Administrator there is a tick sign instead of a Shield sign next to Replace Task Manager -> I press on the tick sign, the tick goes away.

I tried to do the above with 64-bit version and it worked too - it's just that instead of a tick sign there's always a shield.

oh whatever.

  • manually opening procexp.exe worked for me as described
    – Chris
    May 11, 2021 at 7:33

We can accomplish this using PowerShell:

# Restore taskmgr.exe as Task Manager
Remove-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\taskmgr.exe\" -Name 'Debugger' 

# Check if PROCEXP64.EXE is still Task Manager
if($null -eq (Get-ItemProperty  -Path "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\taskmgr.exe\" | Select-Object -ExpandProperty 'Debugger' -ErrorAction Stop)) { 
    Write-Host "taskmgr.exe successfully restored as Task Manager"

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