Process Explorer 11.21 – update 2

After too many months of silence, I’m back with the analysis of ProceXP. Now let’s have a look at the Menu “View”, that may seem not really important, but this is not true, as it contains various options that are the one which provide us the greatest control on the information we want.


System Information – On Windows NT and higher the System Information entry in the View menu (or Ctrl+I) opens a dialog box that shows global system performance metrics like those shown in Task Manager. The information includes the amount of committed and available virtual and physical memory as well as paged and nonpaged kernel buffer usage.

Graphs show the CPU usage history of the system as well as the committed virtual memory usage, and on Windows 2000 or higher systems an I/O graph shows I/O throughput history.  Red in the CPU usage graph indicates CPU usage in kernel-mode whereas green is the sum of kernel-mode and user-mode execution.  When committed virtual memory, which Task Manager labels in its graphs on Windows 2000 and higher as “PF Usage” and on NT 4 as “Mem Usage”, reaches the system Commit Limit, applications and the system become unstable. The Commit Limit is the sum of most of physical memory and the sizes of any paging files. In the I/O graph the blue line indicates total I/O traffic, which is the sum of all process I/O reads and writes, between refreshes and the pink line shows write traffic.

When you move the mouse over the CPU graph a popup displays either on the far left or right of the graph that shows the CPU usage and name of the process that had the largest contribution to CPU usage at the corresponding point in time, as well as the time of the point. Similarly, time stamp information for a point is shown in the Commit graph. Finally, on the I/O graph the tooltip shows the process performing the most I/O at the time of the point, including the amount of data it read and wrote. The popups update as data moves under the mouse, but you can freeze a popup by right clicking and the move the mouse to unfreeze the popup.

On systems with multiple CPUs the System Information dialog includes a Show one graph per CPU checkbox. Checking it switches the display into a per-processor view. Hyperthreaded (SMT) processors sharing the same core and NUMA processors sharing the same node are grouped together and the mouse tooltip shown when hovering over a graph displays the processor and core or node numbers. Note that the mouse tooltips for a processor graph show the name of the process that consumed the most CPU on the entire system at the associated time, not the process that consumed the most CPU on the particular CPU.

Show Process Tree – By default Process Explorer sorts processes into the system process tree. The process tree reflects the parent-child relationship between processes where child processes are shown directly beneath their parent and right-indented. Processes that are left-justified are orphans; their parent has exited. To change the sort order simply click on a the column by which you wish to sort. To return the sort to the process tree select View|Show Process Tree, click the process tree toolbar button, or type Ctrl+T.

Show Processes from all the users – When this option is selected, the Process Explorer will show (or not) the processes launched by your user only or by all the users (both System and “real” users). It is recommended to keep this option enabled when full details are required.

Show Fractional CPU – When this option is selected Process Explorer shows CPU usage to two decimal places. This can be useful to identify processes that would otherwise appear idle, but that are performing background processing.

Show New Processes – When enabled Process Explorer scrolls the Process view to bring into view new processes. If this option is not enabled, you’ll just see the process list as a snapshot (if a process is closed or open it will not show).

Show Unnamed Handles – By default, Process Explorer shows only handles to object that have names. Select the Show Unnamed Handles item under the View menu to have Process Explorer list all the handles opened by a selected process, even those to objects that are nameless. Note that Process Explorer consumes significantly more CPU resource when this option is selected.

 Opacity – You can make the Process Explorer window partially transparent so that windows beneath it show through on systems that support it by making a selection under the View|Opacity menu item.

Show Lower Pane / Lower Pane View

Views – The Process Explorer window shows by default two panes: the upper pane is always a process list and the bottom either shows the list of DLLs loaded into the process selected in the upper pane, or the list of operating system resource handles (files, Registry keys, synchronization objects) the process has open; the view mode determines which information is shown in the bottom pane. To switch the view, use the View|Lower Pane View menu item, the corresponding toolbar button (which toggles), or the Ctrl+D (DLL view) and Ctrl-H (handle view) accelerator keys.

If you are only interested in seeing the processes running on your system You can hide the lower pane by selecting View|Hide Lower Pane, the corresponding toolbar button, the Ctrl+L accelerator, or by dragging the pane divider to the bottom of the Process Explorer window. You can bring back the lower pane by selecting View|Show Lower Pane, typing Ctrl+L or selecting the toolbar button again.

Refresh Now – Well, if you need to refresh the view… click this option.

Update Speed – This is the speed of the refresh.

Organize Column Sets – Columns and Column Sets

Column Selection/ Save Column Set/ Load Column Set/ Select Columns – The information Process Explorer displays in its main window is fully configurable. You can reorder columns by dragging them to their new position. To select which columns of data you want visible in each of the views and the status bar, choose View|Select Columns or right-click on a column header and use Select Columns from the resulting context menu. A column selection editor opens that let’s you pick the columns you want to enable for the Process, DLL, handle panes, and status bar.

Column Sets – You can save a column configuration and its associated sort settings by choosing View|Save Column Set. Process Explorer will prompt you to name the column set. You can load a saved column set by selecting it in the View|Load Column Set menu or by entering its associated accelerator keys. To reorder or rename existing column sets go to View|Organize Column Sets to open the column set organizer.

Next part will cover the last menus: Process, Find, Users and Help. 

Thank you.

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