How to Set Your CPU Priority So It Prefers Foreground Apps

How to Set Your CPU Priority So It Prefers Foreground Apps

/ Shayne Sherman

When you are working or using a program in Windows 10, you might find the program crashing or freezing because background apps are taking up too much of the CPU. This tutorial will help you resolve that issue by showing you how to set your CPU priority to prefer foreground apps.

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What is Set CPU Priority to Prefer Foreground?

CPU Priority places importance on the processing power provided by the CPU on a program or service. Microsoft described this as putting priority levels. These priority levels range from the highest to the lowest. The lowest will generally be background apps. Windows uses 32 priority levels which range from 0 to 31. These values are divided as follows:

  • Sixteen real-time levels (16 – 31)
  • Fifteen variable levels (1 – 15)
  • One system level (0) is reserved for the zero-page thread

It is important to remember that when you change priority levels, you won’t make the program go faster. Your software and programs will not use more CPU time or processor resources than they need. You change CPU priority to give preference to your choice of programs.

Why Do I Need to Set CPU Priority?

Your computer must decide what to do first when performing different tasks. Therefore, you must set CPU priority to prefer the foreground App. When working on your system, your PC will have several foregrounds and background services apps running aside from the one you are using.

Some people set background processes, so they only start when needed. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t have numerous processes running in the background when you open an app to begin working. With each new app, you open, Windows opens several others, and these are in addition to the apps already working from the moment you start your computer.

If you open Task Manager, you may be surprised to see the number of apps operating in the background services and the amount of processing power they consume. You set CPU priority to allow foreground apps to improve your PC’s processing power.

Methods to Set CPU Priority

Use the Control Panel

Using the Control Panel is the easiest method to set CPU resources priority to apps to prefer foreground apps you are actively using.

Step #1

Type “Control Panel” into the search bar without quotation marks. Click on the Control Panel option.

open control panel
system and security
advanced system settings

Step #2

Click on “System and Security” in the Control Panel window menu.

Step #3

Click on “System” and then choose “Advanced System Settings.”

Step #4

Ensure that the “Advanced” tab is selected in the open System Properties window. Under the “Performance” subtitle, click “Settings.”

advanced performance settings

Step #5

When the Performance Options window opens, click on the “Advanced” tab. Under the “Processor scheduling” subtitle, Make sure to select “Programs” under “Adjust for the best performance of:” Now, click “Apply” and then “OK.”

adjust performance settings

Doing this tells the computer you want it to prioritize the programs you have open instead of any background services that might be occurring.

Use the Registry Editor to Assign CPU Priority

Unfortunately, Windows 10 offers users few options to set CPU process priority to prefer foreground applications. Although using the registry editor is a valid method for setting CPU priority to choose foreground apps, it should only be done with extreme care. Make sure you fully back up your system before adjusting focus using the registry editor. Even if you do this correctly, you may experience unwanted side effects.

Step #1

To change CPU priority to prefer foreground applications, press the [R] key and the [Windows] key simultaneously. The run box window will open. Type “regedit” without quotation marks into the run box and hit  [Enter]. When you are warned about the app making changes to the registry editor, click “Yes” to continue.


Step #2

From the list on the left select “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” and then “SYSTEM.” Then select “CurrentControlSet” and “Control.”


Step #3

Finally, choose “PriorityControl.” From the list on the right, click “Win32PrioritySeparation.”

win32priorityseparation regedit

Step #4

In the window that appears, the current value data is set to “2” by default. Change this value to “26” and click “OK.”

win32priorityseparation regedit value

Step #5

After you adjust CPU priority in the registry editor, restart your computer by clicking the Power icon in the Start menu and selecting “Restart.”

restart computer

Manually Setting Priority to Prefer Apps using Task Manager

When you set the CPU priority to foreground programs, the app which is running in the front, for example, Google Chrome, will prioritize when it comes to CPU utilization. This will allow your CPU to have its best performance. Unfortunately, it also has a chance to cause issues that can lead to system malfunction.

You can pick preferred foreground applications by manually setting priority in the Task Manager.

Step #1

Set priority to prefer foreground programs by first accessing the task manager. Press the Ctrl + Shift + Esc Key simultaneously on your keyboard.

Step #2

In the details section, look for the application you want to prioritize. Right-click on the app and then move to Set Priority > Tap on Real-time/High.

Step #3

Once you have opened the Set Priority options, decide the priority according to your needs.

Setting priority to prefer apps using task manager is the only manual way. Other than this, assigning priority to choose apps incorrectly will cause unstable Windows app services, System Windows, problematic default values, or more.


Adjusting your computer settings, so that foreground apps get priority when it comes to processing power is relatively straightforward. You can use either of the two suggested options or use both of them if you wish.

We have more Windows guides that help to fix errors, including ERR_SPDY_PROTOCOL_ERROR in Google Chrome, Taskbar won’t hide, NVIDIA installer failed error, and how to fix a black screen on Windows 10.

Shayne Sherman
Meet the author

Shayne is an expert on all things Microsoft Windows and computer security. As a Windows user of over 30 years, he has been featured on Business Insider, Yahoo, Tech Republic, Hacker Noon, Techopedia, and many other publications. Aside from entertaining at his home theater, he enjoys spending time with his family, including his English bulldog, Fergie.