If you've ever tried tracking down a process in Windows Task Manager, you know it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. Process Explorer makes the job a lot easier. This freeware utility displays running processes in an intuitive tree format that includes not only process names, but also program icons and other data, such as description, image, and processor time.
It also can identify the process for a given application window or look up a process name in Google--a handy way to spot spyware. The latest version, more than three years in the making, introduces several new features. You can now drill down into the multiple svchost processes and see what each one is controlling via mouse-over tooltip, learn which Internet Explorer 8 process controls which tab, and a new .NET assembly information tab under Properties for assistance in .NET troubleshooting.
Additional features offer detailed information on performance, DLLs, threads, handles, TCP/IP connections, security settings, and environments. Despite its lack of visual polish, Process Explorer is one of the best Task Manager replacements we've seen.
Process Explorer shows you information about which handles and DLLs processes have opened or loaded. The Process Explorer display consists of two sub-windows. The top window always shows a list of the currently active processes, including the names of their owning accounts, whereas the information displayed in the bottom window depends on the mode that Process Explorer is in: if it is in handle mode you'll see the handles that the process selected in the top window has opened; if Process Explorer is in DLL mode you'll see the DLLs and memory-mapped files that the process has loaded. Process Explorer also has a powerful search capability that will quickly show you which processes have particular handles opened or DLLs loaded.
The unique capabilities of Process Explorer make it useful for tracking down DLL-version problems or handle leaks, and provide insight into the way Windows and applications work.