Your operating system runs several processes in the background along with the foreground apps. However, it does not allocate equal resources like CPU time and memory to all processes.
By default, Windows gives slight priority to foreground activities. But, you may have unknowingly changed your setting to provide equal importance. Or you simply want to prioritize foreground apps even more.
There are a few ways to set CPU priority in Windows. They offer different options, so read carefully and pick one according to your need.
How to Set CPU Priority to Prefer Foreground Apps From System Properties
Using System Properties is the quickest way to set CPU priority to prioritize foreground apps. Here’s how you can do so:
- Open the Run command (Win + R) and enter
systempropertiesadvanced. It will direct you to the Advanced tab of System Properties.
- Under Performance, click on Settings.
- Go to the Advanced tab.
- Check Programs and hit Ok.
However, this method still does not bring foreground apps to the highest priority. You’ll need to execute the next method for this purpose.
How to Set CPU Priority to Prefer Foreground Apps Through Registry Editor
You can also change the CPU priority using the Registry Editor. This method offers more options compared to the above.
You need to alter the DWORD value Win32PrioritySeparation to define the relative priority of foreground and background apps. To do so,
regediton the Run command.
- Navigate to
- Double-click on Win32PrioritySeparation.
- Set its value to 26 on Hexadecimal base or 38 on Decimal.
How to Set Priority of Specific Process Using Task Manager
This method is more tiresome than previous ones if you want to set priority for multiple apps. However, you can prioritize individual apps instead of all the foreground or background apps at once. Follow the steps below to change priority using the Task Manager:
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to load the Task Manager.
- Go to the Details tab and look for the apps.
- Right-click on the process and hover over Set Priority.
- Choose High or Above Normal.
Do this for all the processes you want and close the Task Manager.
How to Set CPU Priority to Prefer Foreground Apps With Command Prompt
You can also use the Command-line interface to set the priority for individual processes. However, since you need to know the name of the process, using the GUI might be more convenient.
Regardless, if you want to use the CLI,
- Launch the Run dialog box and enter
cmdto open the Command Prompt.
wmic process where name=”Process Name” call setpriority “Priority Level”and press Enter.
Make sure to replace “Process Name” with the full name of the process along with its extension and “Priority Level” to the priority you want, in this case, “High” or “AboveNormal” without removing the quote symbols.
As an example,
wmic process where name=”vlc.exe” call setpriority “High”
Does Setting CPU Priority to Prefer Foreground Apps Improve Performance?
Enabling high priority for foreground apps will improve performance in many cases. But some apps are known to use several background apps. Apps that use the internet or simulators are some examples. In such cases, preferring foreground apps will instead affect app performance.
Nevertheless, if you are running apps as a standalone process, feel free to increase their priority.
Can’t change priority in Task Manager.
You should be able to change app priority in Task Manager if you’re logged in as an administrator. If you still can’t, you likely don’t have full control of the process. To fix this,
- Right-click on the process in Task Manager and select Properties.
- Go to the Security tab and click Edit.
- Make sure to tick Full control for Administrators and click Ok.
Now you should be able to set priority.
What is the Best Win32PrioritySeparation Value to Prefer Foreground Apps?
The range for the Win32PrioritySeparation DWORD value is 0x0 – 0x3F (111111 in binary). Among the six binary digits (bits),
- Starting from left, the first two bits determine the interval for priority, such as:
01 – Longer intervals
10 – Shorter intervals
- The middle two bits determine the length of intervals. For instance,
01 – Variable length of the interval
10 – Fixed length of the interval
- The final two bits determine the ratio of foreground to background processes if middle bits specify variable interval length.
00 – 1:1 ratio (same as fixed-length interval)
01 – 2:1 ratio
10 or 11 – 3:1 ratio
So to put the highest priority for foreground apps, the value must be 100110 in binary or 0x26 (38).