Task manager Mac: how to open and use it

Activity Monitor acts as the default task manager on macOS. Launched with a convenient shortcut, it fulfills the basic functions you’d expect, like terminating apps that freeze or hang. Alternative apps, like a file manager for Mac, e.g. Commander One, can also monitor tasks, providing more tools than Activity Monitor.

How to Get Task Manager on Mac

When you migrate from Windows operating system to macOS, you feel strange with the new platform and features, especially when trying to open Task Manager on Mac with the “learning by heart” shortcut Ctrl + Alt + Delete and nothing happens. So how to get to Task Manager on Mac and what is Task Manager Mac equivalent?

According to some opinions, there is no such need for Task Manager on Mac, as this operating system is better and smoother than Windows and there is some truth in these words. However, what to do if arises the need to force quit some of the Mac processes? What should users do? Do not panic! MacOS has a utility that can substitute Task Manager and it is called Activity Monitor which is located in the Applications -> Utilities folder.

So if you are a Windows user who has just moved to Mac or even a Mac user but have never used or heard about Activity Monitor, this guide is for you. Here you will learn how to open Task Manager on Mac as well as find useful information about tips and tricks. Continue reading.

Let's look at pros&cons of Mac's Activity Monitor.


  • Multipurpose stat tracker for your system
  • Allows you to deal with frozen apps


  • No hotkey to open it, like on Windows
  • Single-purpose app that will be closed most of the time

Commander One Mac Task Manager

Despite the fact, that Activity Monitor is considered to be the Task Manager Mac equivalent, it cannot be called one hundred percent analog to the Windows app, as unfortunately, Activity Monitor doesn’t have some of the features available in Task Manager.

So, if you want to have a more clear view of all the running processes on your Mac computer as well as get real-time updates on your Mac’s performance there is an app that can help you, namely Commander One.

In addition to being a great Task Manager for Mac alternative, Commander One can fully satisfy the needs of many users, starting from process termination or stat tracking and ending with Terminal emulation, file management as well as work as an FTP client Mac app.

Commander One interface

Commander One has a dual-panel interface that can facilitate the working moments, as you can use one of the panels to check the process information whereas another one can be used for your daily routine. Controlling system resources with our Mac version of Task Manager has never been easier. Besides that, the app also offers seamless integration with cloud storage services like Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Amazon S3, etc.

To be able to kill a task via Commander One you can simply press F8 or choose “Delete selected” from the context menu. Besides that, you can sort the tasks by any category, or find them based on their names.


  • Multipurpose task browser
  • More attributes are displayed for processes
  • View tasks along with files


  • PRO license necessary to get the most out of it
  • Hotkeys should be learned for the best experience

How to Use a Mac Equivalent Task Manager

Commander One is an advanced substitute for Activity Monitor. In addition to the capabilities found in the latter, it can also track the origins of processes, the time of their creation and modification, and their IDs. You also get the ability to terminate system tasks, just as easily as any others (be careful, though). To open task manager Mac alternative, Commander One, you have to do the following:

1. Install Commander One. Open the application.

2. Open the drop-down menu at the top of one of the panes.

Click on the drop down box

3. Select “Process Viewer” from the list.

Here is the list of the running processes.

And you’re done! Now, you can have the process list open at all times, in the same window with your folders and files. That’s the main advantage of Commander One – it combines many functions in the same app, and lets you access them from the get go.

Key features of Mac Task Manager - Activity Monitor

Task Manager on Mac aka Activity Monitor shows what processes are currently running on your computer. For convenience, it is shown in a graphical form where you can check which programs and processes are affecting your Mac’s performance. Below you will find the description of the 5 main tabs and their features:

1. CPU Monitor

The CPU tab reveals the level of potential CPU usage. In addition, at the bottom, you will also see the percentage and graph of your CPU usage where red is for the System and blue is for a User. by System (red) and user (blue).

2. Check memory

This tab shows the allocation of RAM. It is shown in a real-time memory graph for your convenience, so you can better analyze the situation. Here you can find info about the amount of memory required for the operation of the system itself, the amount of memory currently used, the total amount of memory used by the system, and the amount of memory that is not currently used but has remained, etc.

3. Energy Tab

In Energy Tab, you can check the amount of energy used as well as the amount of energy used by each process on its own. Make sure to know what is eating your processor’s cycles.

4. Disk Panel

This tab displays the amount of information transferred to and read from the hard drive as well the number of times your computer has made to access the disk to read and write.

5. Network Tab

The Network tab shows the info about the amount of information transmitted and received over the network. In such a way you can check which apps are transferring data in Mac Task Manager.

So, after taking a quick look at Activity Monitor’s features and knowing a bit more about them, it is high time to move to another topic and talk about Task Manager Mac tips and tricks. Continue reading to know more.

Task Manager for Mac: Hints and Tips

How do I open task manager on Mac?

This tool is necessary, whether you’re trying to check memory usage or the percentage of CPU that your apps utilize. You can choose how to open task manager on Mac from two different ways: Launchpad and Spotlight. But there’s no need to limit yourself to system apps, when you have third-party alternatives!

Where is the process list on Mac?

The list of processes is available on Macs in an app called “Activity Monitor”. To see running processes Mac users can push a key combination, Command(⌘)+Space, and find Activity Monitor in Spotlight. The app will open up and display a table containing all active tasks.

What is running on my Mac?

All active apps that are running on your hardware will show up in the task list. How to see what is running on Mac? It’s simple – use specialized software to find the tasks and track their memory usage. You can choose between system software or apps like Commander One.

Does Ctrl-Alt-Del shortcut work on Mac?

Just like Windows, macOS has a button combination to reset or shut down your device – Ctrl+Eject. It’s basically Control Alt Delete on Mac. On startup, it’s very common for most software issues, except for malware, to be resolved autonomously in the background, instead of having to fix them manually.

How to force quit an app on Mac?

Cmd+Option+Esc will open a menu that lets you force quit on Mac, even if you can’t access the toolbar. It’s a vital hotkey, one that you’ll need many times if you’re using non-Apple software. Even official programs freeze now and then.


While the default task manager Mac app is easily accessible, and there are plenty of other means to handle rogue tasks on macOS, there’s also room for improvement. You can get an enhanced view of your processes through the use of Commander One and similar software. Also, keep the Force Quit and Shutdown hotkeys in mind for difficult situations.

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s the Activity Monitor. This helpful utility will give you plenty of info. But other apps can fulfill its job – such as Commander One, which includes MTP Mac functionality.

It can be launched from Applications, or searched for in Spotlight (look for Activity Monitor). There’s a simpler solution – combining your task manager and file manager into a single app. Commander One does this with a Mac terminal emulator included in the mix!

Indeed. This is implemented with 2 different key combos – Ctrl+Eject and Cmd+Option+Esc. If you want an app that implements process tracking with iOS file transfer and Android mounting, try Commander One.

Activity Monitor is what you’re looking for. It lists tasks, CPU and memory consumption, and other useful stats. Imagine how useful it would be, if it was combined with an archive utility Mac app. Check out Commander One!