「FIX」Desktop Window Manager High Memory Usage

If the desktop window manager process memory usage is high, follow these simple steps to quickly fix the problem in Windows 10.

The desktop window manager (dwm.exe) is a system process. It is responsible for drawing windows on the screen and adding pretty effects like transparency, animations, etc. Put simply, the desktop window manager is responsible for almost all GUI (Graphical User Interface) elements in Windows 10. As such, the desktop window manager is an important process and you cannot stop or disable it.

Back in the Vista days, the desktop window manager is a separate service to handle the animations and other effects. This allowed users to disable it to improve system performance. However, starting from Windows 7, the desktop window manager is deeply integrated into Windows and can no longer be disabled individually.

A vast majority of Windows 10 users never need to know or worry about the Desktop Window Manager process. After all, it just sits in the background and consumes very little memory (less than 50 to 100 MB) all the while doing the work as efficiently as possible.

However, the desktop window manager’s memory usage can higher under certain circumstances. For example, I’ve seen the desktop window manager process using over 4 gigs of memory even while sitting idle. This can cause problems for other applications and processes, especially in systems with 8GB or less memory.

If your desktop window manager (dwm.exe) memory usage is high, follow these steps to fix it.

Fix Desktop Window Manager High Memory Usage

To fix the desktop window manager high memory usage problem in Windows 10, follow the list of steps given below.

  1. Update video drivers
  2. Adjust performance settings
  3. Run performance troubleshooter in Windows 10
  4. Clean boot Windows 10
  5. Scan for virus or malware

1. Update video drivers

The first and foremost thing you should do is make sure your graphics or video drivers are up-to-date. It doesn’t matter whether you are using integrated graphics or dedicated graphics, having the latest driver is important. Mainly because the bugs in outdated drivers are known to cause Desktop Window Manager high memory usage. Follow the below steps to update video drivers in Windows 10.

  1. Right-click on the Start menu.
  2. Select “Device Manager.”
  3. Expand “Display Drivers.”
  4. Right-click on the video driver.
  5. Select “Update driver.”
  6. Click on “Search automatically for drivers.”
  7. Windows will now install updated drivers if they are available.
update video driver to fix desktop window manager high memory usage

In case of Nvidia or AMD graphics cards, you can also use the Nvidia Control Center or AMD Radeon Software to update the display drivers.

2. Adjust performance settings

If Windows is configured to prioritize appearance over performance, it can cause the desktop window manager to use more memory. To deal with that, you either set it to high performance or let window decide what’s best for your system. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Right-click on the Start menu.
  2. Select the “System” option.
  3. Click on “Advanced system settings” under the related settings section.
  4. Click on “Settings” under the Performance section.
  5. Select “Adjust for best performance.”
  6. Click “Ok.”
select best performance to fix desktop window manager high memory usage

As soon as you select the “Adjust for best performance” option, Windows will disable all the animations, effects, and other eye candy. This should reduce the high memory usage by the desktop window manager process. You can also try setting the Performance Setting to “Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer.” Choosing this option makes Windows choose the animations and effects that don’t adversely affect your system.

3. Run performance troubleshooter in Windows 10

Windows 10 includes a basic performance troubleshooter to find and fix problems. Here is how to use it.

  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. Search for “Command Prompt.”
  3. Right-click on Command Prompt.
  4. Select “Run as administrator.”
  5. Execute the below command.
    msdt.exe /id PerformanceDiagnostic
  6. After running the troubleshooter, close the Command Prompt window.
  7. This should fix the desktop window manager’s high memory usage.
run performance troubleshooter

Sometimes, you might have to restart the system after running the performance troubleshooter.

4. Clean boot Windows 10

Under certain circumstances, other processes, applications, or services might interfere with the desktop window manager process and cause it to use more memory. In that case, you can do a clean boot to find the offending program or process. Once you find that, simply uninstall or disable it and the desktop window manager high memory usage problem will be fixed.

5. Scan for virus or malware

If your system is infected with a virus or malware, it is highly possible that they are interfering with the desktop window manager or might have replaced the legit dwm.exe with an infected dwm.exe process. In those cases, it is best to do a full system scan to find and remove the virus or malware infection.

I hope that helps. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below and I will try to help as much as possible.

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