Mac OS Task Manager and Alternatives to System Monitoring

Novice Mac OS users often wonder: where is the Mac Task Manager and what keyboard shortcut launches it, how to use it to close a hung program, and the like. The more experienced wonder how to create a shortcut to launch System Monitor and if there is an alternative to this application.

This tutorial covers all of these questions in detail: starting with how the Mac OS Task Manager starts and where it is located, and ending with creating hotkeys to launch it and a few programs to replace it with.

System monitoring is the Mac OS task manager

The counterpart of the Task Manager in Mac OS is the system application System Monitor (Activity Monitor). You can find it in Finder - Programs - Utilities. But a faster way to open System Monitor is to use Spotlight search: just click the search icon in the right menu bar and start typing "System Monitor" to quickly find the result and run it.

If you need to run Task Manager frequently, you can drag the System Monitoring icon from programs to the Dock so that it is always available there.

As in Windows, the Mac OS "Task Manager" displays running processes, allows you to sort them by CPU load, memory usage, and other parameters, view laptop network, disk, and battery usage, and force closing running programs. To close a suspended program in System Monitor, double-click on it and in the window that opens, click the "Finish" button.

In the next window, you will be able to choose between two buttons: «Shut down» and «Forcibly shut down». The first starts a simple closing of the program, the second closes even the stopped program that does not respond to normal actions.

I also recommend that you look in the «View» menu of the «System Monitoring» utility, there you will find:

  • In "Icon in the Dock" you can configure what exactly will be displayed on the icon when the system monitoring is running, for example, there may be a CPU load indicator.
  • Show only selected processes: user processes, system processes, have windows, hierarchical list (like a tree), setting a filter to show only those programs and running processes that you require.

Bottom line: on Mac OS, the task manager is the built-in system monitoring utility, quite handy and moderately simple, but effective.

Key combination to start Mac OS System Monitor (Task Manager)

By default, Mac OS does not have a keyboard shortcut like Ctrl + Alt + Del to start system monitoring, but it is possible to create one. Before proceeding to create it: if you only need the hotkeys to force close a hung program, there is a shortcut of this type: hold down the key Option (Alt) + Command + Shift + Esc within 3 seconds, the active window will close even if the program does not respond.

How to create a shortcut to start System Monitoring

There are several ways to assign a hotkey combination to start system monitoring on Mac OS, I suggest using one that doesn't require any additional software:

  1. Run Automator (you can find it in programs or by searching Spotlight). In the window that opens, click on "New Document".
  2. Select "Quick Action" and click the "Select" button.
  3. In the second column, double-click "Run program".
  4. On the right, select the "System Monitoring" program (you will have to click on "Other" at the bottom of the list and point to Programs - Utilities - System Monitoring).
  5. From the menu, choose File - Save and specify a quick action name, such as "Run system monitoring". Automator can be closed.
  6. Go to the system settings (click on the Apple in the upper right - system settings) and open the item "Keyboard".
  7. On the "Keyboard Shortcuts" tab, open "Services" and find the "Basic" section below it. In it you will find the quick action that you have created, it should be marked, but without the shortcut for now.
  8. Click on the word "no" where there should be a shortcut to start system monitoring, then "Add" (or just double click), then click on the shortcut that will open the "Task Manager". This shortcut should contain the Option (Alt) or Command key (or both at the same time) and something else, like a letter.

After adding the shortcut, you can always run system monitoring with them.

Alternative task managers for Mac OS

If for some reason system monitoring as a task manager does not suit you, there are alternative programs for the same purpose. Of the simple and free, a task manager stands out with the simple name of "Ctrl Alt Delete", available in the App Store.

The program interface shows the processes that are running with the possibility of simply closing (Quit) and forcing the closing (Force Quit) of the programs, and also contains actions to close the session, restart, go to sleep and shut down the Mac .

By default, Ctrl Alt Del is already set with a start shortcut - Ctrl + Alt (Option) + Backspace, which you can change if necessary.

Of the quality payment system monitoring utilities (which focus more on displaying information about the system load and beautiful widgets), iStat Menus and Monit stand out, which you can also find in the Apple App Store.