Monday, April 02, 2007

Task Manager mysteriously disabled

An In.Tech reader complained that his Task Manager has been mysteriously disabled:

Hi, I keep my Dell laptop updated in every way possible, and I have a legal copy of Norton Internet Security 2006.

However, I found out not too long ago, whenever I press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, the Task Manager doesn’t appear but instead I get a message saying... “Task Manager has been disabled by your administrator.”

I’m the only user on my laptop and I didn’t assign any guest or other user! How do I fix this?

J. Tai
via e-mail

On occasion, when we come across PCs infected with a virus, spyware, trojan, or other types of malware, we've found that the Task Manager has been disabled.

Malware creators like to disable Task Manager to make system troubleshooting difficult, and also to make it hard to remove their malware.

Ramesh Srinivasan, a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) covers this
issue on his website at

“If this restriction was enabled in your system without you doing anything or without your knowledge, then it’s highly likely that a Virus has blocked the usage of Task Manager in your system by enabling the DisableTaskMgr policy via the registry.” Srinivasan notes.

He suggests that “you perform a thorough checkup of your system immediately”. The steps listed below will unblock the Task Manager, but will not remove malware (if any) from your system:

1. Click Start, Run and type Regedit.

2. Navigate to the following registry branch: HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies\ System.

3. In the right pane, you should see a line called DisableTaskMgr.

4. Double click on DisableTaskMgr and change Value Data to 0 (zero) to re-enable Task Manager.

5. Close Regedit.

By the way, you can also launch Task Manager by using this keyboard shortcut: Ctrl+Shift+Esc.

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