How to turn processes into clickable links
April 29, 2009 1:19 PM   Subscribe

I would like to write a program which transforms the Windows task manager's process list into clickable links. Where do I start?

I often find myself googling the obscure process names in my task manager to see what program uses it, and/or if it's safe. I'd love to be able to just click on the process and have it open a browser and run the google search.

I tried to get the "App A Day" guy to do it years ago, but he instead made a more generic version that googled any highlighted text, which, although very useful, is a bit buggy and not quite what I need.

Can I use something like C# and the Windows API to change the behavior of the Task Manager, or is this program was completely locked off from tweaks? I'm a fairly experienced coder but have never delved into the Windows API.

Thank you for any suggestions you might have!
posted by TimeTravelSpeed to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Process Explorer?
posted by I-baLL at 1:20 PM on April 29, 2009

I don't think you can change the behavior of the Task Manager, but I wrote a tiny app in C# that gives me a list of running processes/apps and lets you select one in the list and kill it with extreme prejudice.

It works by calling a method, UpdateProcesses:
        private void UpdateProcesses()
            Process[] processes = Process.GetProcesses();
            processes = FilterProcesses(processes);
            if (processes == null)
            if (ProcessesDiffer(processes, _processes))
                _processes = processes;
                foreach (Process p in processes)
which gets all processes and runs a filter on them, keeping the ones that are exe's (you can use other criteria). The listbox has an event that fires when something is clicked on. In my case, it activates the kill button, but in your case you would fire off a google query. It's not trivial, but it's straight forward.
posted by plinth at 1:31 PM on April 29, 2009

It's not too difficult to write programs that list running programs on a windows machine, but I don't think you can modify task manager too easily. Start by checking out the EnumProcess function.

On the other hand, modifying the task manager itself might be difficult, or it might not be to hard. It seems like windows just runs the programm called taskmgr.exe when you click the task manager button after pressing alt+ctrl+delete. I suppose if you can replace that program with something else you might be able to change it. But windows might have that file locked down to prevent spyware from taking over your system.
posted by delmoi at 1:37 PM on April 29, 2009

As I-baLL suggests, in Process Explorer you can right-click a process, click 'Search online' and it will google it for you. There's even a shortcut - Ctrl+M

It's also made by Microsoft, and costs nothing. Of course, if you want to write your own program for learning purposes, I say go for it!
posted by Mike1024 at 1:39 PM on April 29, 2009

If you want to code this yourself I believe you want the System.Diagnostics namespace and probably want to make it an XBAP, a XAML Browser Application which runs in IE or Firefox off of the local hard drive but effectively has no security restrictions on what it can access compared to a web page, to easily do the linking interoperation... you could even just have it come up in a pane next to your list of processes.
posted by XMLicious at 2:02 PM on April 29, 2009

Nthing just using Process Explorer
posted by phrakture at 2:49 PM on April 29, 2009

Taskmanager (check out the swithes) can output to a text file of running processes. You can write something that will parse that text file and generate html. Im sure I could do this in an hour in python.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:01 PM on April 29, 2009

Process Explorer can be changed to be the default taskmanger app when you press alt+cntrl+delete as well.
posted by bigmusic at 3:20 PM on April 29, 2009

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