What Is “Application Frame Host” and Why Is It Running on My PC?

Open the Task Manager on Windows 10 and you’ll see an “Application Frame Host” background process running. This process has the file name “ApplicationFrameHost.exe” and is part of the Windows 10 operating system.

This article is part of our ongoing series explaining various processes found in Task Manager, like Runtime Brokersvchost.exedwm.exectfmon.exerundll32.exeAdobe_Updater.exe, and many others. Don’t know what those services are? Better start reading!

What Is Application Frame Host?

This process is related to Universal Windows Platform apps, also known as Store apps—the new type of app included with Windows 10. These are generally acquired from the Windows Store, although most of Windows 10’s included apps like Mail, Calculator, OneNote, Movies & TV, Photos, and Groove Music are also UWP apps.

Specifically, this process is responsible for displaying these applications in frames (windows) on your desktop, whether you’re using Windows 10 in desktop mode or tablet mode. If you forcibly end this process, all your open UWP apps will close.

These apps are more sandboxed than traditional Windows apps. Unlike traditional Windows desktop apps, often referred to as Win32 apps, UWP apps are limited in what they can do. For example, they can’t snoop on data contained in other apps. That’s likely why they require an additional process to display their content on the Windows desktop. However, Microsoft doesn’t provide any official documentation that explains exactly what this process is responsible for.

Why Is It Using CPU and Memory?

In normal PC use, the Application Frame Host process should sit in the background and use only a small amount of CPU and memory. When we launched eight UWP apps on our system, we saw its memory usage rise to only 20.6 MB. The process used less than 1% of CPU for a few moments when we launched a UWP app, and otherwise used 0% CPU.

We’ve seen some reports that this process can use a large amount of CPU resources in some situations. It’s unclear what can cause this, and it sounds like a bug somewhere in Windows 10. If you find this process is using too much CPU, we encourage you to simply sign out of Windows and sign back in (or end the process in the Task Manager, which will also close your open UWP apps). This will cause Windows to restart the process and the problem will hopefully be fixed.

If the problem continues, we recommend normal troubleshooting steps. First, try running Windows Update to install the latest updates, which may fix the problem. Run the SFC and DISM commands to attempt to repair corrupted system files. If nothing fixes the problem, you may even want to try resetting Windows to a fresh state.

Can I Disable It?

You can’t actually disable this process. If you right-click it in the Task Manager and select “End Task”, the process will be closed. All your open UWP or Store apps—the new type of app included with Windows 10—will also be closed. The next time you open a UWP app, though, Windows will automatically launch the Application Frame Host process once again. It’s started as needed by Windows 10 in the background, and you can’t stop it.

Is It a Virus?

To check that the Application Frame Host process running on your system is the real thing, right-click it in the Task Manager and select “Open file location”.

You should see a File Explorer window showing the ApplicationFrameHost.exe file in C:\Windows\System32. If Windows shows you a file with a different name—or one that isn’t in your System32 folder—you have a problem.

We haven’t seen any reports of malware imitating the Application Frame Host or ApplicationFrameHost.exe process. However, if you are concerned about malware, it’s always a good idea to run a scan with your preferred antivirus program to ensure nothing dangerous is running on your system.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Twitter.