My MacBook seems to be really slow these days, no matter what I do. On Windows I had so many choices to figure out what's taking memory, CPU cycles and what not and take action appropriately.

Wondering if there is an equivalent alternative for Mac OS X for what Task Manager is for Windows?

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    As an aside, as the title of your question may bring people here: Opt-Cmd-Esc to get the Force Quit dialog. – Arjan May 1 '10 at 7:26

Activity Monitor. It's included with OS X. Just look in your Applications/Utilities folder or use Spotlight to find and open it.

alt text

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    I wish they made this as part of the "Apple" menu. Pretty basic stuff that can save some people some vent fan heat ;) Thank you! – DemoGeek Aug 18 '09 at 19:19

Activity Monitor found in Applications/Utilities folder.

O'Reilly Mac Dev Centre has a good run down on how to "read it". And Peek-a-boo is a good way to show you how processes connect to one another.

Although if you really want to know what your system's up to, I'd recommend iStat pro.

istat pro

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    I run iStatPro but that doesn't give me the details on what process is juicing up my CPU cycles. – DemoGeek Aug 18 '09 at 19:20
  • no, but is shows you what processes are running. – cust0s Aug 18 '09 at 20:42

As others have answered, Activity Monitor in /Applications/Utilities/ is the most direct equivalent to the Windows Task Manager, but there are other options..

I mainly use iStat Menus to work out which application is using up all the CPU time..

Instead of having to launch Activity Monitor (which takes a few seconds to start), I just click the little CPU menu bar item, and it lists the current top processes:

iStat Menus CPU menu

You can also use the "top" command instead of Activity Montior (it's quicker to launch also). Just run the top command in a terminal:

the top command

I have an alias ltop which launches top, ordered by CPU usage, with a few flags to reduce it's CPU usage (reduces it's accuracy with regards to memory usage, but uses about 2% CPU instead of about 10-12% by default):

alias ltop='top -F -R -t -o cpu'
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    or alternate is htop – Jakub Oct 28 '11 at 15:16
  • When I try this in 2016 with Mac OS Sierra I get the error invalid option or syntax: -t – Kelseydh Dec 6 '17 at 18:52

One thing that will help when using Activity Monitor is to add columns of information (exactly the same as Process Explorer). Right-click on the process columns and you can add significant additional info:

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Another important piece of information to look at in activity monitor is your paging:

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What this shows is how much hard disk page swaps have occurred and how much swap memory is physically written to disk. If you see active page ins/outs, then an application is forcing swapping.

  • seems like a big missing piece of functionality compared to Process Explorer is the paren/child subprocess relationship among the processes. If I'm not mistaken Activity Monitor just lists them all out in a flat fashion with no notion of the hierarchy that may or may not exist between the various processes. – jxramos Dec 4 '18 at 0:44

Tasks Explorer, which is close to Activity Monitor, although has some features which Activity Monitor does not have (process environment, used shared libraries, opened files, exported symbols).

I also find useful htop utility from *nix-world (available in macports).


Also, interesting to note that you have a shortcut ( that took me a year to remember ) to quick access that:


Super handy ( as Task Manager in Windows is super super handy )


In Windows to Force quit or shut down a task, there is ctrl + alt + delete (Windows Task Manager). In Mac, it is known as Activity Monitor. Yes, Mac OS has its own task manager.

You can use it by typing activity monitor in the spotlight.

Source: https://webeeky.com/mac-task-manager/

  • Nice Answer ! Please keep it up and keep contributing, our site grows from the expertise of members like you ! – 123456789123456789123456789 Dec 21 '17 at 17:38
  • Thank so much. I will always try to contribute and share my knowledge :) – Sunil Gill Dec 21 '17 at 17:47

You can check out "Mac Helpmate" to tidy up your OS.


A powerful utility (CLI) is process explorer from mac, available here. It emulates Linux top with Mac OS X and iOS specific options, and is also grep-able.

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