My work computer experiences a lot of slowdown, so I want to do what I can to make sure the stuff I need to be response actually is responsive. For example, I run Pidgin, which loads everytime I boot. How can I tell Windows XP to always set its thread priority to low?

Using the SysInternals utility 'Process Explorer', I can temporarily set the priority - until the next time the application is restarted. How do I effectively make this permanent?

7 Answers 7


Option 1

There is Prio. Prio extends the Windows standard TaskManager and adds a "Save priority" option to the "Set Priority" menu.

caveat #1: I used it a while ago (under Win-XP) and it worked fine, but I did not test it extensively.

caveat #2: Reason for deinstalling was licensing because:

Prio - is distributed as freeware for personal use only. This means: All copyrights to Prio are exclusively owned by O&K Software Ltd. The program is free for personal use only. The business license has the cost $19.95 USD.

(quote from their website)

Option 2

I found ProcessTamer which may also help with your problem (maybe even more so). It seems to be freeware - the author just likes you to register for a free license key (otherwise a few nag windows pop up).

Option 3

If you want this only for a few select programs, you can create a batchfile that does not call it directly but indirectly via start (the Windows command shell built-in) and then use that batchfile (a shortcut to it).

start can be used with the following options that set the process priority:

  • /LOW
  • /HIGH
  • 1
    Nice answers. For pidgin, you should just be able to change the shortcut to [cmd /c start /low "" "C:\Program Files\Pidgin\pidgin.exe"]. You need the empty quotes to indicate to start that the command-line isn't the title. Nov 12, 2009 at 13:39
  • Apologies for taking so long to mark as answered. Please know that it was oversight and not neglect.
    – user9141
    Jan 5, 2010 at 20:54

Changing the application shortcut to 'start /low [program.exe]' should work for you.

This technically can work for things that don't start automatically. If you want it for a startup program, you can do this to the shortcut and put it into the StartUp folder obviously. If I wanted to run: C:\Program Files\TortoiseSVN\bin\TortoiseProc.exe /command:update /path:"C:\dev_dir" I would have to:

1) Set "Start in" to the folder the actual executing file (TortiseProc.exe in this example) is located so: "C:\Program Files\TortoiseSVN\bin"

2) Set the target to run CMD w/ "/C" to run the string following "/C" then exit, then use that to run START /PRIORITY [executable] [parameters]. In my case, I used the following:

%SystemRoot%\system32\cmd.exe /C start /BELOWNORMAL TortoiseProc.exe /command:update /path:"C:\dev_dir"

%SystemRoot%\system32\cmd.exe Starts the command prompt

/C executes the following code,

start /BELOWNORMAL TortoiseProc.exe /command:update /path:"C:\dev_dir" actually starts the program given that you correctly "Start in" to the directory where the executable is located.

Hopefully that helps somebody.


ProcessHacker allows priorities to be set and saved for individual processes:

enter image description here

Process Hacker was started in 2008 as an open source alternative to programs such as Task Manager and Process Explorer.

Licence: GNU General Public License version 3.0 GPLv3


Process Lasso can force priorities (and CPU affinity) to processes, along with other features like ProBalance (Process Balance):

intelligently adjusts the priorities of running programs so that badly behaved processes won't substantially impact the responsiveness of your PC.

It's free for home usage, with a few nagscreens, 14.95$ to register the Pro license.


I have a a way of starting a program in a specific priority in windows 7 and 8 and it takes alot less work than messing in the command prompt which is not natural for the average user.

First create a shortcut to the program. Right click your shortcut and select properties,, once the properties window opens do the following:

Before change the target line should look something like this:

"C:\Program Files\Ubisoft\Assasins Creed 3\AC3SP.exe"

Change it too read

cmd /c start/high "C:\Program Files\Ubisoft\Assasins Creed 3\AC3SP.exe"

and click ok.

Now you have a shortcut that will start in high priority every time.


If you have a stubborn application that is resetting its priority after being launched, the start /option answers above won't work.

I found the following info about a command line application already built into windows which can be executed on any running process. And, yes, it does work all the way back to XP when used as follows:

wmic process where name="program_name.exe" CALL setpriority PriorityLevelID

where PriorityLevelID is:

Level ID  Meaning
========  ============
  256     Realtime
  128     High
 32768    Above normal
   32     Normal
 16384    Below normal
   64     Low

You can create a batch file to start the program like this:

start "drive:path\program_name.exe"
wmic process where name="program_name.exe" CALL setpriority PriorityLevelID

Reference: https://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/89548-set-cpu-process-priority-applications-windows-10-a.html


Another way is to change the start options for the program. You can see that setting the priority of a process at the time of invocation.

Changing the application shortcut to 'start /low [program.exe]' should work for you.

  • True but inconvenient, especially with automatically started processes.
    – Gerd Klima
    Nov 12, 2009 at 10:03
  • can't add that in a shortcut
    – John T
    Nov 12, 2009 at 13:02
  • -1 for wrong detail about application shortcut
    – Gerd Klima
    Nov 12, 2009 at 13:18

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