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What Is ctfmon.exe And Why Is It Running?

Okay, so you’ve found ctfmon.exe running on your system, but what is it?  A Virus?  Well, whenever I see an unknown process running I immediately become suspicious.  In this case though, don’t worry too much.  This process was created by Microsoft and was put there when you started using Microsoft Office.  Want to learn more?  Read on!

What is ctfmon.exe?

Windows has what they call an Alternative User Input and Microsoft Office Language Bar.  Ctfmon is the process that monitors input activity on from those services and allows you to use speech recognition, and handwriting recognition.

This process is normally located in the following location:

C:\Windows\System32\ctfmon.exe

What is wrong with ctfmon.exe?

From a security standpoint ctfmon.exe is not a threat.*  However, the process takes up system resources and so if you aren’t using speech-to-text, handwriting, or the Office Language bar, you don’t need to keep ctfmon running.  The problem here is that ctfmon.exe will run 24/7, not just when you are using the above mentioned services.  Another annoying thing is that even if you remove it from the Startup application list it will just re-write itself back in there and startup anyways.

*Always be wary of viruses and other malware that to hide themselves copy the names of legitimate processes such as ctfmon.exe.

How To Disable ctfmon.exe

There are two different methods for turning off ctfmon.exe, first we’ll look at disabling it using the Windows control panel.

Method 1: Disable it from the Region and Language control panel

Click the Start Menu and Type language into the search box.  From the results that appear, Click Region and Language.

Note: In Windows XP and Vista you can reach this same menu from the Control Panel under Regional and Language Options.

launch region and language control panel in windows 7

From the Keyboards and Languages tab, Click Change keyboards…

change keyboards windows 7

The next window will be called Text Services and Input Languages.  In the General tab of this window you want to remove everything you possibly can from the Installed services list.  When finished Click OK.

text services and input languages in windows 7

Method 2: Unregister the .dll files needed to run the service

When the above method doesn’t work, this one is a sure shot brute force technique.

Launch cmd from the Start Menu.

launch cmd start menu

Now we’ll completely unregister the dlls that run the alternative input services by typing in the following two commands, one at a time.

Regsvr32.exe /u msimtf.dll
Regsvr32.exe /u msctf.dll

Remove ctfmon.exe from Startup

Click the Start Menu, Type msconfig into the search box, and Press Enter.

load msconfig

The system configuration tool should launch.  Click the Startup tab and then from the list Uncheck the box next to ctfmon.  When finished Click OK and then restart your computer.

remove ctfmon from startup

After your computer reboots ctfmon.exe should no longer be running on your system.  Hooray!

Conclusion

Ctfmon.exe is a process made by Microsoft for the Language Bar and Alternative User Input Text Input Processor.  If you do not use these services you should follow the above steps and get rid of it since it is just wasting system resources by running.  Microsoft has created a help article with additional information regarding the process due to popular demand and complaints about it running unnecessarily.

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One Response to What Is ctfmon.exe And Why Is It Running?

  1. Brandon December 11, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    To those interested in Method 2, the “two commands” referenced are:
    Regsvr32.exe /u msimtf.dll
    Regsvr32.exe /u msctf.dll

    …and to the editor, the text-area boxes aren’t showing the commands, you might want to try just regular HTML with a system-type font.

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