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