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What is splwow64.exe and Why is it Running?

You’re probably reading this because you’ve been looking through Task Manager, found splwow64.exe running, and want to know what the deal is. Maybe you’re thinking “why is this process running on my computer, I never gave it permission!” or “is it a virus?” Well, you can stop worrying. It’s not a virus, and it’s actually supposed to be there.

Read on for the details.

why is splwow64.exe running

Splwow64.exe is a Windows core system file. The program runs in the background and is not normally visible. It is a trustworthy resource created by Microsoft. Task Manger lists it as the “Printer driver host for 32 bit applications.” In other words, splwow64.exe allows 32-bit applications to connect with the 64-bit printer spooler service on x64 Windows builds.

Further exploration into the process lists it is as the “Thinking Spooler APIS from 32 to 64 Process” It is stored at “C:\Windows\splwow64.exe”  and is started by the parent process spoolsv.exe.

It has a light system footprint of ~1,124k and shouldn’t affect performance much.

Should I Get Rid of It?

You’re normally best off just leaving splwow64.exe running. It isn’t hurting anything, and it isn’t using up any memory your normal print services aren’t already using. The only time I can see disabling it to be beneficial, is if you don’t have any type of physical or virtual printer installed on your system. In that case, here is how to prevent it from starting.

Open the Start menu and type services into the search box. Click the Services program link that appears.

sevices.msc

In the services window scroll down and right-click Print Spooler then select Properties.

windows 7 services snap in

Click the Startup type drop-down menu and select Disabled from the list. Then click OK to exit and save changes. Changes will take effect the next time you reboot your computer.

startup type disabled

Conclusion

Splwow64.exe is a core Windows process and shouldn’t be causing any problems on your computer. It can be disabled or removed, however doing so will cripple your computer’s ability to print from 32-bit applications. This process is safe and best left alone.

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11 Responses to What is splwow64.exe and Why is it Running?

  1. Chris July 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    What is VproTray.exe which is in Windows 7

  2. Strablet December 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Thanks. Helpful info. I just installed a firewall and splwow64.exe keeps trying to start up my printer all the time. I don’t have a printer. I’m not even attempting to run any print function, so I was wondering why it would be calling my printer all the time. Is it possible to access personal data, send it to a virtual print file and export that to somewhere? My firewall says this application is trying to access secure info. Originally the file was interacting with openoffice, and since I never use that, I removed openoffice. Still it keeps trying to call my printer all the time, even when I’ve never asked to print anything. So I switch it to Manual instead of Disable as you suggested. Thanks again. I am using ZoneAlarm firewall because it’s free. :-)

  3. Tomas March 6, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    Si, Hago esto y nunca más podré imprimir de nuevo. ¬¬

  4. Rick April 5, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    For some unknown reason photoshop (older version 6,0) stopped being responsive and is constantly waiting for something everytime I click on anything or just about everytime I click on anything. I finally found what it is waiting on…by going to the Resource Monitor, under CPU, and clicking on photoshop…I get a window that says that photoshop is waiting on splwow64.exe.
    Now, I am running an Intel Quad core i-7 (one of the fastest chips on the planet with 16gigs of RAM. It should not be waiting for anything nor did it used to wait like this. i’m talking waiting for 10 seconds to 40 seconds just to resize a small file. This used to be instantaneous.

    I have a printer but I’m NOT doing any printing while I’m waiting for each little step in photoshop. So, what the heck is going on???? Why is photoshop waiting on a freekin print spooler when I’m not doing any printing????

    • Garry April 5, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

      Sounds like a virus. Is it the legit version of Photoshop?

      Some viruses mimic splwow64.exe and use the same name. Sometimes they even hack over your original splwow64.exe and then run as a virus within it.

  5. MON August 30, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    I have the same issue like Rick but this time it is a file in excel and it only happens when I access that file does not happen in any other excel file. What I would normally do is just end the process in task manager… Any idea how it is like attach to a prticular file??
    thanks

    • Austin Krause August 30, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      Is it an excel file you created? And does it contain macros?

      • MON September 3, 2013 at 4:51 am #

        I did not create the file and it does not have any macro attach to it. I wonder if the size of the file contribute to it, it’s about 50 mb file and is a shared file but even if I am the only one using it still using that splwow64.exe
        Thanks for the reply

  6. MON September 6, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    Finally find the fix. I get rid of all installed printer on my pc and installed it one at a time, I found out the printer thats triggering it.
    Thanks

  7. Nancy Patrich September 22, 2013 at 1:01 am #

    I’ve been running Windows 7 64x for almost 2 years with a printer. splwow64.exe
    has never been in my task mngr list until recently.

    My printer and all my programs worked fine before without it. Why is splwow64.exe there now?

    This is suspicious to me.

  8. Helge Sverre May 5, 2014 at 1:29 am #

    I’ve made a script that automatically fixes the msot common SPLWOW64 problem regarding printing, you can find it on my website:
    http://helgesverre.com/blog/how-to-fix-splwow64-exe-error/

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