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 crash or freeze up 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 is placing an importance or processing power provided by the CPU to a program or service. Microsoft described this as putting priority levels. These priority levels range from the highest to lowest. The lowest will generally be background apps. Windows uses 32 priority levels which ranges from 0 until 31. These values are divided as follows:

  • Sixteen real-time levels (16 – 31)
  • Fifteen variable levels (1 – 15)
  • One system level (0), 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 really 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 foreground App. When working on your system your PC will have several foreground and background services apps running aside from the one you are using.

Some people set background processes, so they only start when they are needed. However, that doesn’t mean that 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. These are in addition to the apps that are 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.

control panel option
system and security in control panel
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

In the System Properties window that opens, make sure that the “Advanced” tab is selected. Under the “Performance” subtitle, click “Settings.”

settings button under performance subtitle

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.”

check program in advanced tab

Doing this tells the computer you want it to give priority to 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 in setting CPU priority to prefer foreground apps, it should only be done with extreme care. Make sure you perform a full backup of your system before attempting to adjust priority using 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.

regedit in run box
select currentcontrolset then control
click win23priorityseparation
edit value data
restart computer


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 that appears on the right, click on “Win32PrioritySeparation.”

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.”

Step #5
After you adjust CPU priority in the registry editor. Restart your computer by clicking the Power icon found in the Start menu and selecting “Restart.”

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 which can lead to system malfunction.

Thankfully, you can pick prefer 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 and look for the application which you want to prioritise. Right-click on the app and then move to Set Priority > Tap on Real-time/High.

Step #3

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

Setting priority to prefer apps using task manager is the only manual way to do it. Other than this, setting priority to prefer apps incorrectly will cause unstable Windows app services, System Window, 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 at 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. He also enjoys spending time with his family, including his English bulldog, Fergie as well as entertaining at his home theater.