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What’s dwm.exe (Desktop Window Manager)? Is it safe or a virus?

Remember all the way back when "Aero" was a new cool transparent UI Window style back in Windows Vista? Our cybersecurity team here in Austin does. I guess that's just how old we are?

Well... even today, all of our PCs in our Cybersecurity Lab still have this common Microsoft executable dwm.exe (Desktop Window Manager), and this safe .exe has been handling transparent windows all the way back to Windows Vista. So, what all does this Desktop Window Manager process do?

Dwm.exe handles tasks such as transparent windows, Aero effects, and high-resolution content. Dwm.exe also uses 3D hardware acceleration to render the desktop and manage graphical user interfaces aka the UI.

Dwm.exe should be completely safe on your PC, as long as it's signed by Microsoft. It's not malware, or a virus.

(Researched by Jon @ SpyShelter Labs)

Executable Processes List

More about dwm.exe on WINDOWS

Who makes dwm.exe (Desktop Window Manager)?

We’ve found Microsoft Windows should be the publisher of dwm.exe.

How do we know? Our SpyShelter cybersecurity labs focuses on monitoring different types of Windows PC executables and their behaviors for our popular SpyShelter Antispyware software. Learn more about us, and how our cybersecurity team studies Windows PC executables/processes.

What does it mean if someone is the publisher of a PC .exe (executable or process)?

The publisher of an executable is the entity responsible for its distribution and authenticity. Most processes/executables on your PC should be signed. The signature on the executable should have been verified through a third party whose job it is to make sure the entity is who it says it is. Find an unsigned executable? You should consider scanning any completely unsigned .exe on your PC.

Is dwm.exe safe or a virus?

Below are 4 simple steps you can take to see if the dwm.exe process is safe or malware.

  1. Scan the executable with Microsoft's built-in tech
  2. Find dwm.exe's publisher
  3. Search the executable's hash with VirusTotal
  4. Monitor the executable's behavior
Last updated: February 1, 2024

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Why should you trust us?

Our team at SpyShelter has been studying Windows PC executables for over 15 years, to help fight against spyware, malware, and other threats. SpyShelter has been featured in publications like The Register, PC Magazine, and many others. Now we’re working to share free, actionable, and easy to understand information about Windows executables (processes) with the world, to help as many people as possible keep their devices safe. Learn more about us on our "About SpyShelter” page.

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