How to Create a Shortcut That Nukes Every Running Windows App

Posted: January 8, 2011 in Tips and Tricks, Windows

Have you ever had dozens of application windows open and wanted to just close them all? There’s a bunch of freeware apps that will close them all for you, but you don’t need extra software—and here’s how to do it.

What we’ll do is use the taskkill command with a bunch of custom arguments that specify to kill everything other than Explorer—but you can really customize it to anything you’d like, and keep in mind you should really read this carefully before proceeding.

Create the Nuke Everything Command

The first thing you’ll want to do is open up a command prompt and then type taskkill /? so you can see the syntax. Loads of options!

We’ll be using a couple of operators to accomplish what we want, including these two:

  • /F – force closes the applications (this is optional, keep in mind force closing will lose unsaved data)
  • /FI – uses a filter, which is where the magic is

The filter command takes a set of arguments, which you can see in the help, but we’ll put them here as well:


Filter Name Valid Operators Valid Value(s)

———– ————— ————————-



IMAGENAME eq, ne Image name

PID eq, ne, gt, lt, ge, le PID value

SESSION eq, ne, gt, lt, ge, le Session number.

CPUTIME eq, ne, gt, lt, ge, le CPU time in the format

of hh:mm:ss.

hh – hours,

mm – minutes, ss – seconds

MEMUSAGE eq, ne, gt, lt, ge, le Memory usage in KB

USERNAME eq, ne User name in [domain\]user


MODULES eq, ne DLL name

SERVICES eq, ne Service name

WINDOWTITLE eq, ne Window title




1) Wildcard ‘*’ for /IM switch is accepted only when a filter is applied.

2) Termination of remote processes will always be done forcefully (/F).

3) “WINDOWTITLE” and “STATUS” filters are not considered when a remote

machine is specified.

Now that we’ve seen the possible arguments for the filters, it’s time to put them together. For example, if you wanted to kill every app by your username, you’d use taskkill like this to check where your username is “eq” (equal) to geek.

taskkill /F /FI “USERNAME eq geek”

The only problem with this is that it would also kill explorer.exe and dwm.exe, so your whole screen would flash and the Start Menu would completely disappear—probably not what you want. Thankfully we can chain together multiple instances of the /FI argument to fix this problem, and we’ll use the IMAGENAME, which is the name of the executable, and the “ne” for “Not Equal” to the ones we don’t want to kill.

taskkill /F /FI “USERNAME eq geek” /FI “IMAGENAME ne explorer.exe” /FI “IMAGENAME ne dwm.exe”

You can customize this even further if you’d like, adding extra processes that you don’t want to close into the list. It’s really up to you—just keep in mind that if you accidentally kill Explorer.exe you can always use Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open Task Manager, and restart the process from the File –> Run menu.

Note: if you don’t want to force kill the applications, you should remove the /F argument.

Create the Nuke Windows Shortcut

Once you’ve got the command figured out, it’s easy enough to create the shortcut—just right-click anywhere and choose New Shortcut. Once you’re there, drop the full command into the location box.

Give it an icon and put the shortcut somewhere, and you’re all done. Now you can kill everything in one shortcut, with no added software!

In case you’re wondering, you can find this icon in the Windows\System32\imageres.dll file.

Note: use of this shortcut should be done at your own risk, and if your computer explodes don’t blame us. We warned you.


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