What is dwm.exe? Fix Desktop Window Manager High CPU

So you want to know about dwm.exe. Well, join the club. A lot of people are doing the same. In fact, the question has been popping on a lot of places over the internet lately because of its high CPU utilization. Hence, we have put together this article to give you some basic info about the ways in which you can tackle errors surrounding it.


What is dwm.exe? 

You know all the cool effects that you can play with on your computer. Like the transparent windows, live taskbar manager, the flip 3D and all. Well, dwm.exe is the thing behind all those things. And its more familiar name is the Desktop Window Manager. 

It is a valid Windows file and should be running on your computer for the most part. 

Why does my computer show it as malware?

The Desktop Window Manager is not a virus file.

There should be no doubt in your mind about this fact. But it is obvious that your anti-virus thinks otherwise. So, what is really happening? The reality is that malware makers give their creations the same file name in order to avoid detection. Nevertheless, over time the reverse happens and the software comes to think of dwm.exe virus.

Should I turn off the Desktop Window Manager?

Actually, you can’t. You could disable dwm.exe Windows 7 or Vista versions. But with other versions, it is a lot closer to the other parts of the program and is very important as far as the graphical features go. Additionally, its new versions are much better at handling resources and hence you really don’t need to turn it off. 

What to do when dwm.exe is eating up a lot of RAM and CPU?

desktop window manager high cpu

Like we said before, the new version of dwm.exe Windows 10 is a lot better when it comes to managing resources than older versions. But still, there might be times when it takes up too much of your RAM and CPU or times at which the whole file crashes.

Consequently, you need to know what to do if such situations arise. Hence we have gathered several methods that you can try out when you find yourself in such a mess. 

Fix Desktop Window Manager High CPU Usage

Solution 1: Restarting explorer.exe

Restarting your computer is probably the first fix that you might have tried. And not just in this case, it is likely your go-to for any error. Well, you were not entirely off. Just try restarting explorer.exe instead. Users have reported that it serves good as a temporary fix.

  1. Go to the Windows search bar. Type in task manager and hit enter.
  2. Open the first app and probably the only among the results. (Alternatively, you can use the option Ctrl + Shift + Esc as most people do.)
  3. Find explorer.exe on the task manager and select it.
  4. Click on the End task option at the right bottom part of the screen.

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  1. Click the File option on the top left corner of the screen.
  2. Choose the Run a new task option.

wm.exe windows 10

  1. Type in explorer in the space provided and then choose OK or hit Enter.

desktop window manager high memory

Do note that this is just getting out of the error ways for a while. It will eventually come around again.

Solution 2: Disabling problematic services

There are certain programs within your system that may prove troublesome to the proper functioning of dwm.exe. Hence you are left with no choice but to find and disable those programs.

  1. Use the Windows search bar to look for the Run app. 
  2. Open the app from the search results. (You can also open the run dialogue box by pressing the Windows key + R key on your keyboard.)
  3. Type in services.msc in the space provided and choose the OK or hit Enter.
  4. In the window that opens find the Skype Updater, Google Update (update) and Google Update (gupdate) services. 

desktop window manager windows 10

  1. To disable the service, all you need to do is to double-click it.
  2. Change the Start type to Disabled on the properties window that appears.
  3. Choose Apply and then OK to save the changes made.
  4. Disable all the services mentioned earlier and you are good to go.

desktop window manager high memory windows 10

Solution 3: Deleting the mdi264.dll

Many anti-virus programs identify mdi264.dll as a malware file. And unfortunately, it also causes dwm.exe high CPU usage. So, it’s a good idea to get rid of it. Here, we are going to do it using the command prompt.

  1. Go right ahead and click on the Windows icon on your screen.
  2. Press and hold the Shift button on your keyboard and hit choose Restart.
  3. During the restart, go for the Troubleshoot option as soon as it appears.
  4. Choose the Advanced options option followed by the Command prompt option.
  5. This will cause the Command prompt window to open. When that happens, type in the command as follows and hit Enter: cd C:\Users\Your Name Here\AppDat\Local\Temp
  6. After you are done with that command, do the same with this one as well: del mdi264.dll
  7. After you are done deleting the file, close the command prompt. 
  8. All that’s left to do is to Restart your computer and you are done. 

Solution 4: Installing older graphics card drivers

We all are very thankful for Nvidia’s graphics drives, they really do up our game with each new version. But it has also been reported that some of the latest versions of Nvidia drivers can cause dwm.exe to crash. In such a case, we are left with no choice other than to revert back to the original versions of the drivers. 

  1. Press the Windows key and X key on your keyboard simultaneously to open the Power User Menu
  2. From the list that appears, choose the Device Manager option.
  3. Look for your graphics card driver in the list that appears.
  4. Double-click on it once you find it. 
  5. A window will pop up. Click on the Driver tab on its top side.
  6. Choose the Roll Back Driver option. 
  7. Click on OK and wait till it ends. 

what is dwm.exe

Solution 5: Running the SFC scan 

The SFC stands for System File Checker and it is a very useful tool as long as Windows is considered. With it by your side, you can easily scan and fix the corrupted files that may be present on your computer. Therefore, the go to for any kind of troubleshoot activity is SFC. 

  1. Place the search bar on the Windows Search bar. 
  2. Type in cmd or command prompt and hit Enter
  3. When the search result appears, right-click on the Command Prompt app. Then choose the Run as Administrator option. 
  4. Type in the command given below and then hit Enter: sfc/scannow
  5. It will probably take a while for the entire process to finish. Just wait it out. 
  6. Once you hit the finish line, Restart your computer. 

dwm.exe desktop window manager

Solution 6: Run DISM 

So next, we are going to try another troubleshoot called DISM. It stands for Deployment Image Servicing and Management. The tool has the ability to deploy broken system image files to fix the desktop Window manager high CPU. 

  1. Go to the Windows Search bar. Type in cmd or Command Prompt and then hit Enter. 
  2. When the app appears among the results, right-click on the app from the results and choose Run as administrator option.
  3. In the command prompt, type in the following command and press Enter: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth.
  4. After you are done with that command, do the same with the following command: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  5. The task might take about 10 minutes to end. Wait it out just like before. 
  6. Restart your computer after it’s over. 

Solution 7: Using the performance troubleshooter

This is the last troubleshooter that we are going to do.  Windows’s own trustworthy troubleshooter.

  1. Using the Windows search bar look for the command prompt and then run it as an administrator. 
  2. Type the command given below and then hit Enter: msdt.exe /idPerformanceDiagnostic
  3. Wait patiently for the process to complete just as you did in the above two methods.
  4. Yeah, Restart your computer as you have done before. 

what is desktop window manager windows 10

Solution 8: Changing Windows theme

This might sound absurd but it sometimes works as dwm exe is the one who handles various tasks like theme customization, wallpaper settings, taskbar handling, screensaver management, etc. So, it is a good idea to change the theme temporarily or disable the screensaver.

  1. Right-click on a free area of the desktop.
  2. Choose Personalize from a bunch of options.
  3. Go to Themes section and choose Windows (light).

dwm.exe high cpu

  1. Now select Lock Screen tab and scroll down a bit.
  2. Find Screen saver settings and select None.

dwm.exe windows 10

Bonus tips

Solution 9: Removing third-party antivirus programs

Viruses are definitely not good souvenirs to keep around. But you do get them by accessing the sites that you shouldn’t peek at. It is common knowledge that such software can cause problems and it is true in the case of dwm.exe as well.

Solution 10: Checking USB devices

Many people have reported that devices like Xbox controllers while being wired in have caused their dwm.exe to crash. So it will probably be a good idea to check any kind of USB device that you might have plugged in before trying out any method. And if that is, in fact, the case, it will save you a lot of time and put you through much less of a hassle. 

Wrapping up,

The above article will give you enough knowledge to mess around with dwm.exe crashes. It has also covered the basics regarding. So now you know everything you need to know about it. We are sure that one of the listed solutions will settle down your issue. But if it does not, let us know via the comment section.

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