How to Fix “DWM.exe has stopped working” Error on Windows?

First, you need to know what dwm.exe is and what it is used for. DWM stands for Desktop Windows Manager, an essential process that is used to render the graphical user interface by Windows. If you try to disable DWM or it stops working, some Windows and application processes will not run and may get crash. Moreover, when you try to end task DWM, it won’t shut down, and when you open the task manager, you will see that the DWM process is still running.

dwm.exe has stopped working
dwm.exe has stopped working

Desktop Windows Manager has a .exe extension, which means it is an executable system file used for the system. All the system files are located in Windows 32. Therefore, before troubleshooting, ensure the DWM is located in Windows>system32. If it’s not there, your Windows may be affected by the virus/trojan.

The error arrives with the error message referring to dwm.exe has stopped working along with other details. It can cause the application to crash and stop. Below we have mentioned some of the main contributors to this error:-

  • Stopped Desktop Windows Manager- The desktop Windows Manager process runs in the background for Windows and renders transparency effects with the other things. Therefore, ensure that the Desktop Windows Manager is running.
  • Corrupt System Files- The error might occur due to having corrupted system files causing DWM not to work. Therefore, ensure your system does not contain any corrupted data that can lead you to this error.
  • Malware Infection- Your Windows may have some malware files leading to this error. Either use third-party antivirus software or Windows defender to scan your computer.
  • Conflict of application- The error can be caused by interference from third-party software or even Microsoft services. We recommend performing a clean boot to fix this error.

1. Reinstall the Graphics Driver

It turns out that incompatible and corrupted Graphics drivers can be the leading cause of this error. Some users have reported that the error occurs due to having an incompatible graphics driver. Remember, when downloading drivers, make sure you are downloading the right version according to the Windows OS architecture.

1.1 Uninstall GPU Driver

For uninstalling the GPU driver, there is an application called DDU, which stands for Display Driver Uninstaller, used to uninstall drivers completely from the computer. Below are the steps:-

  1. First, Download the DDU and wait for setup to download
  2. Once done, access Safe Mode by visiting the article. It is not required, but it is recommended.
  3. Head to the Downloads directory and right-click the DDU ZIP folder
  4. Click Extract to DDU and navigate to the folder
    Click Extract to DDU
    Click Extract to DDU
  5. Double-click the DDU.exe file, then click Extract

    Extracting DDU
    Extracting DDU
  6. Go to the Extracted folder and launch the Display Driver Uninstaller.exe
  7. Select the Device Type and its vendor from the right
  8. Click Clean and Restart

    Selecting Device Type and Graphics Driver
    Selecting Device Type and Graphics Driver

1.1.2 Install GPU Driver

  1. Go to the Graphics Card manufacturer’s website and select the Graphics Driver
  2. Download the Graphics Driver, then run the installer
    Downloading GPU Driver
    Downloading GPU Driver
  3. Follow the on-screen instruction to install the driver
  4. Once done, restart your computer for the complete installation.

2. Run SFC and DSIM Commands

As the error can result from corrupted files, we recommend executing the repair commands to ensure that there is no corrupted file causing this issue. DISM and SFC are some command line utilities developed to restore Windows images and corrupted system files like DLL and .exe files.

DISM stands for Deployment Image Servicing and Management. It consists of three commands repairing, restoring, and scanning. In comparison, the SFC stands for System File Checker, a utility that allows fixing corrupt files in Windows. If the error occurs due to the corrupted files, this method will fix them. Follow the steps:-

  1. Click Start Menu and type Command Prompt
  2. Click Run As Administrator from the right pane
    Opening Command Prompt in Administrator Mode
    Opening Command Prompt in Administrator Mode
  3. Copy the following commands one by one and paste them into the terminal
    DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
    Sfc /scannow
    Executing SFC and DISM Commands
    Executing SFC and DISM Commands
  4. Once all is done, check if the error is fixed.

3. Perform a Clean Boot

Some services and third-party applications may be conflicting and prevent Desktop Windows Manager from running correctly. To troubleshoot, which service or application causing the issue, you have to perform a clean boot, a process that disables the unnecessary application and services at the startup. Follow the steps:-

  1. Press the Win key and type MSConfig
  2. Open the System Configuration

    Opening System Configuration
    Opening System Configuration
  3. Choose the Selective Startup, then go to Services

    Selecting Selective Startup
    Selecting Selective Startup
  4. Tick the Hide All Microsoft Services
  5. Then, click Disable All
    Disabling Irrelevant Services
    Disabling Irrelevant Services
  6. Restart the computer and check if the issue persists.

4. Disable Windows HDR

No dought, Windows HDR mode is a good feature as it improves the brightness and color. However, at some point, it can cause this error. As per the discussion from the affected users, disabling the Windows HDR mode fixed their issue. Therefore, try the following steps:-

  1. Right-click the Start Menu and click Settings
  2. Open Settings, click Windows HD Color Settings disable the Windows HDR by toggling off the Steam HDR Video button
    Note: If the Use HDR option is not available for you, that means your monitor does not support HDR

    Disable Windows HDR Mode
    Disable Windows HDR Mode
  3. Check if the issue is fixed.

5. Scan Windows For a Malware

Another solution to this error is to scan your Windows properly, as the error can be caused by malware/trojan. Before running a system scan, check if the Desktop Windows Manager is located in Windows > System32. If it’s not located, it is probably malware causing this error. Usually, scanning with Windows defender is enough to kick the malware from Windows, but as per the affected users, the Windows defender does not detect that virus. Hence, we need to use third-party antivirus software like Baidu Antivirus.

  1. Download and install the Baidu Antivirus, then open it
  2. Scan your Windows, then check if the error persists.

6. Turn Off Aero Peek

Aero Peek was introduced in Windows 7 and is available for the latest operating systems. The feature allows the user to preview the desktop without even clicking and minimize the applications. It turns out that turning off the Aero Peek may resolve this error.

  1. To turn off the Aero Peek, right-click the taskbar
  2. Click Taskbar Settings

    Opening Taskbar Settings
    Opening Taskbar Settings
  3. Then, there will be an option starting from Use Peek To Preview the Desktop

    Disabling Aero Peek
    Disabling Aero Peek
  4. Disable the option and check if the error is fixed.

7. Update Windows

If the error still persists, try updating Windows to the latest. Sometimes the bugs and errors can be fixed by updating Windows to the latest.

  1. Open Settings by typing it in the Start Menu
  2. Navigate to Update & Security

    Settings to Windows Update & Security
    Settings to Windows Update & Security
  3. Click Check For UpdatesUpdating WindowsUpdating Windows
  4. If the updates are available, download and install them
  5. Once done, check if the error is resolved.

8. Use System Restore

If none of the methods have fixed your issue, try using a restore point. If you are familiar with the restore feature and have created a restore point, this method will work for you, but in case you have not created a restore point, resetting Windows may help. Below are the steps:-

  1. Press Win + R to launch Run Program
  2. Type rstrui and click OK

    Launching System Restore
    Launching System Restore
  3. Click Next, then select the restore point
    Selecting Restore Point
    Selecting Restore Point
  4. Click Next and click Finish
  5. Once done, download all the required drivers and check if the error is fixed.

Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.