When I right click on my task bar and click on Start Task Manager it gives me an error

Windows cannot find "C:\windows\system32\taskmgr.exe" Make sure you have typed the name correctly and try again.

So I tried executing task manager from system32 directory, still it gives me the same error.

Has my task manager gone corrupt ? If so how can I reinstall it?


Additional information for the case:

  • running sfc /verifyonly resulted in Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations.
  • On Windows 7 Home Premium Engish 64bit: size of "C:\Windows\System32\taskmgr.exe" is 257 024 bytes, it's md5 is 09f7401d56f2393c6ca534ff0241a590, crc-32 is d5b3f6f7.
  • Permissions of taskmgr.exe are: Read & execute + Read for SYSTEM, Administrators and Users, Full Control for TrustedInstaller
  • virustotal.com says the file is virus-free
  • in Windows Logs/Application I found a warning by winlogon saying The Windows logon process has failed to spawn a user application. Application name: taskmgr.exe. Command line parameters: taskmgr.exe /3 . that is apparently relavant to the problem,
  • in Windows Logs/System I found an error by "VDS Basic Provider" saying Unexpected failure. Error code: 490@01010004 that is apparently relavant to the problem
  • As a short-term option, if you just need to kill off some tasks, the FAR Manager (free and open source) includes a built-in process viewer (press Alt-F2 then the number 0) that can do this. I find that it will work even when SpyWare is blocking Windows Task Manager: farmanager.com Apr 15, 2011 at 16:53
  • Are you sure your system is clean, (as some viruses stop TaskMgr from running so you can't kill the virus)?
    – sgmoore
    Apr 15, 2011 at 17:01
  • @Randolf Richardson Thanks for an alternative solution, but I don't need to kill any process. It's just I want to experiment with the old task manager.
    – Searock
    Apr 15, 2011 at 17:02
  • @sgmoore Yeah, I messed up with the task manager a week ago : )
    – Searock
    Apr 15, 2011 at 17:04
  • 1
    Sfc may be able to fix.
    – sgmoore
    Apr 15, 2011 at 17:12

6 Answers 6

  1. Download sysinternals suite from microsoft technet and unpack.
  2. Find and run procexp.exe.
  3. Click in Options menu on Replace Task Manager and than Restore Task Manager.
  4. Click Ctrl+Alt+Del or on taskbar Run Taskmanager. Settings are restored and MS Taskmanager works fine. Because of my habit I can´t work without sysinternals.
  • 1
  • For some reasons it only shows Replace Task Manager in the options menu.
    – Searock
    Apr 15, 2011 at 17:11
  • That's OK, Click Replace Task Manager twice. This will restore the original Task manager.
    – xxl3ww
    Apr 15, 2011 at 17:14
  • Thanks a lot, I didn't notice the check mark besides it. I feel so stupid.
    – Searock
    Apr 15, 2011 at 17:33
  • don't forget to run as administrator...
    – Shaz
    Jul 23, 2015 at 15:44

Process explorer by Sysinternals is one solution but there is another.

Use the built in System File Checker tool in Windows 7

Open a run command box or elevated command prompt and type in

sfc /scannow

it will now scan all your Windows system files and replace any that are missing or corrupt.

Source of Information


I had the same problem and I could not even fix it with process explorer. The culprit was the value "Debugger" under "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\taskmgr.exe". Some older installation of Process Explorer which had not been properly uninstalled had registered itself as the debugger of taskmgr.exe by storing its path in there, but that path did not exist anymore, so windows would refuse to run taskmgr.exe because it could not find the debugger for it. Deleting the "Debugger" value fixed the problem.


Try this one:

  1. Right click on computer > properties > system protection.
  2. Create a restore point called Before.
  3. Locate the task manager file.
  4. Delete the file.
  5. Create a restore point called After.
  6. Open system restore.
  7. Click next.

Your computer will restart during the process.


Your "task manager" has not gone corrupt. What the error message is telling you is that it can't be found at all. Looks like the file that is the task manager executable has been deleted somehow.

taskmgr.exe is part of a standard Windows install and isn't an optional component. So the fact that it is missing means someone has accidentally or intentionally deleted it. One then is forced to wonder what other essential Windows files might be missing. If you cannot account for this file being deleted for any reason, I'd suggest a reformat/reinstallation. You don't know what else could be missing.

In the meantime, @xxl3ww is correct, Sysinternal's Process Explorer is much better than the built-in Task Manager of Windows, and you can use it if you need a program with the same capability.

  • I don't wish to reinstallation. Will the old task manger work if I copy it from my friends computer ?
    – Searock
    Apr 15, 2011 at 17:18

To change back from procexp.exe to original task manager: windows 7 Pro 64 bit You can delete HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\taskmgr.exe in your registry to restore your original system task manager. Leave the "default" there.

  • 1
    This appears to be a comment on the answer by xxl3ww.
    – Blackwood
    Mar 3, 2018 at 4:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .