How-To Geek

What Is ctfmon.exe and Why Is It Running?

You are no doubt reading this article because you are frustrated with the ctfmon.exe process that just won’t stop opening no matter what you do. You remove it from the startup items and it just magically reappears. So what is it?

This article is part of our ongoing series explaining various processes found in Task Manager, like svchost.exedwm.exemDNSResponder.exe, conhost.exe, rundll32.exeAdobe_Updater.exe, and many others. Don’t know what those services are? Better start reading!

Ctfmon is the Microsoft process that controls Alternative User Input and the Office Language bar. It’s how you can control the computer via speech or a pen tablet, or using the onscreen keyboard inputs for asian languages.

If you are using any of the above, you should leave it enabled. For everybody else, we’ll get to the job of disabling this annoying service.


Depending on your system configuration, there are a number of different steps to disable it. I’ve tried to list all the methods below.

Step 1: Disabling in Microsoft Office 2003

We can remove the alternative text input from Microsoft Office 2003 by just removing that feature in the setup.

Note: I haven’t figured out where the equivalent setting is for Office 2007 (if there is one), but we can also disable it a different way below.

Go to Add/Remove programs, choose to Change your installation of Microsoft Office and make sure you check the box for “Choose advanced customization of applications” before you hit next.


Find “Alternative User Input” in the list and change the dropdown to “Not available” so it looks like this:


Step 2a: Disabling in Windows XP

There’s an additional step we can take to make sure it gets turned off in Windows XP, which really seems to be the best answer for XP users.

Open up Control Panel and choose Regional and Language Options.


Choose the Languages tab and then click on Details in the top section.


Now on the Advanced tab you can choose to “Turn off advanced text services”, which should immediately close ctfmon.


You’ll also want to take a look at the first Settings tab, and make sure that your “Installed Services” box looks similar to this one:


If you have more than one Installed service then ctfmon might come back… For instance on my system there was an input for my drawing tablet so I could use it as a text input… which I don’t care about, so I clicked Remove on it.

Step 2b: Disabling in Windows Vista

The setting above for completely disabling text services doesn’t seem to exist in Windows Vista as far as I can tell, but we can remove the additional input services using a similar method.

Open Control Panel, choose Regional and Language Options and then find “Change keyboards or other input methods”.


On the Keyboards and Languages tab, you can select Change keyboards.


Now you’ll finally be at the same screen as in Windows XP. You’ll again want to remove the extra installed services in the list other than your default keyboard language.


Step 3: Remove From Startup

You won’t want to perform this step before doing the others, because it will just be overwritten again. Open up msconfig.exe through the start menu run or search box, and then find the Startup tab.


Find ctfmon in the list and disable it by unchecking the box. Just remember that if you haven’t disabled ctfmon through one of the other settings this won’t help you a lot.

Step 4: If all else fails

You can just completely unregister the dlls that run the alternative input services by running these two commands from the run box (one at a time)

Regsvr32.exe /u msimtf.dll

Regsvr32.exe /u msctf.dll

If you perform this step, you should also use Step 3 to get rid of the startup entries.

Step 5: Reboot

Reboot your computer and then open a Microsoft Office application if you do have that installed. Verify that ctfmon.exe is not running.

For more information you can read the Microsoft article on the subject.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/4/07

Comments (122)

  1. Lisaweb

    Now this was a great tip, Geek. Anything to shut down services I don’t need help tremendously. Thanks again!

  2. Mike Farley

    Phew! So that’s how you do that… thanks! That feels so much better ;-)

  3. The Geek

    It was annoying me too, that’s why I wrote it =)

    Be sure and follow up in the comments here if you have any issues with disabling it… I’ll be sure to update the article if I missed any steps.

  4. Mike Farley

    It disabled just like you said it would (Win XP SP2) – I rebooted, and it hasn’t returned.

    Bye-bye – wish I could say I’ll miss you, little pesky service…

  5. J.C Bailey

    Excellent walk through,

    I never used the language bar at all and for some reason Spy Bot kept saying that ctfmon.exe was a spy ware related item, however I scanned it with multiple scanners and nothing was ever detected within the file.

    So at least this way I can make one less warning message disappear.

  6. Teufel

    Excellent article … :-)

  7. doug m

    excellent article. very helpful and precise. now if we can only get microsoft to merge it’s svchost services with the process their controlling and rid ourselves of the extra memory usage we’d be good to go

  8. Marl

    It uses little resources, what is the point in disabling it?

  9. jose

    this really work with xp so if you have the same problem fallow this good advice thanks

  10. Sam

    Thank you for explaining it thoroughly .

    Greate article!

  11. David

    I too have been trying to get rid of ctfmon.exe. I have followed all of the directions on this site and it still appears! I’ve removed it from the registry and it comes back. Where is it coming from?

  12. ben

    I’m using XP without Office(not installed).
    Step 2a was all I needed. The startup entry just disappeared on restart.
    And sure, it uses little resources, BUT when you find FIVE (5) ‘ctfmon’ startup entries
    on a friends computer it makes you wonder ‘what is going on here’.
    So thanks, Geek.

  13. Pat

    Thanks. Hop[efully this will help those of us with old memory starved pcs.

  14. tinman

    thank you very very much !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. jen

    Thanks for the great how to fix it. My computer was immediately faster on reboot.
    Again thank you so much.

  16. Dave

    Good tip. I would like to also offer a way to remove this service. You can also just delete the application itself from the location – C:\WINDOWS\system32\ctfmon. This is an application just like any other and can be deleted!

  17. BigTed

    Thanks alot, the guys over at M$ put together a list that you need to have a degree in english to decipher. This was nice and straight forward.

    Do have a list of other services that do not need to run to help speed up our machines?

  18. ricketyrock

    After using WinPatrol (current free version 14.0.2007.1) to clean my start-up act; ctfmonexe kept trying to return. Googled ctfmonexe and found your “green” (according to McAfee SiteAdvisor Firefox Extension)
    site. Thank You for your site and the ctfmonexe disabling article. I plan to be a frequent visitor and (hopefully) contributor.

  19. Arun

    buddy thanks. I was looking for this for a long time. I also need another help from you. While running games or other applications my audio output suddenly fails and i don’t know why it is happening. Everything is working properply, but the audio is not coming. If you have any solution for it please notify me. Thanks again and looking for the answer.

  20. Joey

    I had pretty much figured out everything to do except the language settings. I even opened ctfmon.exe in winhex to try to track it’s source and see what kind of issue it was. I figured out the command lines in run for the regtry repair but turnig of the languages was the miss key. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!! I’m rid of that major annoyance now!!

  21. car

    disabling ctfmon is bad, because your keyboard could stop working for your language, in particular If you’ve a non US keyboard

  22. Mel

    Thanks for the info, very helpful Keep up the good work Its nice to know that there are people out there on the electronic highway that are willing to share helpful information.. Have a great Day Best Regards Mel

  23. Dmitriy
  24. Deyaa Addeen Fahmy

    Welldone, thanks a lot.

  25. Benji


  26. zoltan

    if i turn it off in the control panel (“turn off advanced text services”) i loose my ability to switch between languages, in text writing? (thats what happened) can i avoid that somehow, or is it essential (for example: to use Russian fonts in office??)

  27. Jopower

    I do NOT have Microsoft Office installed. Not even MS Word. I do have Open Office 2.4 installed but Spybot was reporting it wanted to change the registry before OO 2.4 came, usually when I’ve done something unrelated to any MS software. I deny the reg changes each time. This last Spybot notice came just after I updated Google Earth. Soooo…. why does CTFMON come on in my case? If so, what’s it trying to do, in my case? Or is this a hint I have the CTFMON froom the dark side?

  28. tigin

    thats awesome man

  29. Dr Know

    Hey Zoltan

    If you need to switch keyboards you’ll need ctfmon. Otherwise for most people it’s unnecessary.

  30. James

    Victory at last!! This is the best site i have found everywhere else doesn’t solve the problem.

  31. Dragon Speaking

    Thank you very much. this little program was becoming a great annoyance. every time I would turn off my computer it would pop up an end task window for ctfmon. It never did it before I took the computer in to get it fixed so figured it might be something the programmer installed. So thank you.

  32. Techgrunge

    Firstly i thought this file ctfmon.exe is a virus .When i found this site,now i’m know it is microsoft office file.Well thanks for the useful info.

  33. Ragnorok

    – So why can’t mickeysuck give such a concise method of turning this freak off? They even explictly say it can’t be dynamically loaded and unloaded, just clearing the other “services” under Text Services wipes it right out. Freaking morons. Good Form, Geek!!

  34. katrinka13

    Thank you for this information. I did everything you suggested except for the vista step since I don’t have vista and it’s still coming back and pinning itself to the startup in msconfig. I have a small program called StartupMonitor that notifies me when something tries to attach itself to startup. Usually I just click no and it’s gone, but ctfmon.exe is like the gift that keeps on giving! It just won’t go away. I have it denied in spybot, but spybot just keeps sending up messages saying it’s denied it. I did a regedit search and it’s in several places. I just posted in the forums w/a few more specifics. Pleeeeease help! Thanks!!!

  35. deepak

    really useful information……

  36. Yamada

    @off topic

    that screenie of yours, may i know what name of that shell your using? the colored blue? very nice…

  37. The Geek


    It’s just Vista’s default theme.

  38. Yamada

    ohh… too bad T_T thx anyway…

  39. Tony

    I’ve been trying for ages to get rid of “ctfmon.exe’ and this really worked. Thanks a lot, I really do apprecitate your help.

  40. Jes

    It’s still bugging me. I don’t have any alternate text inputs installed nor do I have any office products installed. Yet ctfmon.exe is right there always. I may need it ‘some day’ so I don’t want to completely delete it but I have decided to block it from starting with the aid of my firewall. That will teach it.

  41. Junoon

    gr8… ctfmon was always very annoying to me, never knew what is it for.
    Thankx atlast i got rid of it.

  42. prapie

    I am SOOOO glad I found this article. Ctfmon was causing delays for me too, like a delay in the start menu coming up when click the Start button. Great work.

  43. dinesh

    ctfmon.exe is a process regulated by windows so even if you dont have ms office installed in it, this process will run in the back ground. Its just like an Appendicitis in your stomach; you dont need it but its a part of your body.

  44. jaydeep

    Smooth! Thanks for this :D

  45. Ruchir

    Thanks dude!!! Worked fine for me :)

  46. Spacegold

    Since this little pest does not inhabit my task list, I presume it is a little gift from the developers of MSOffice, which I also do not have. Another plus for Open Office.

  47. Jim

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Even mighty Microsoft, with all their infinitely inscrutable wisdom, was unable to provide straightforward instructions about how to turn this service off. You are not only a geek, you are a gift and a genius!

    By the way, I also have NO WINDOWS XP OFFICE products installed, and never have.

  48. ~Vikki~

    Thank-You Sooo Much for providing a Fast & Simple Solution!! Removing ctfmon from Windows XP was Amazingly Simple..Puter Runs Lightning Fast after disabling!! Your Fantastic!! “Happy New Year”

  49. Robert

    As others have pointed out: If you use the language toolbar (not just Asian languages, but for any TWO or more languages) then you need this service running. Annoying that Microsoft have added it as an external feature, when in XP Home and XP Pro SP1 is was integral with other functionality, but never mind.

  50. PhilG

    One thing to add to this.
    As they said, I went to check the following:

    >Regional and Language Options.
    > Languages tab and then click on Details
    > Advanced tab – you can choose to “Turn off advanced text services”,
    >which should immediately close ctfmon.

    When I viewed this setting, it was NOT checked and regedit showed the value under

    When I then checked the box (clicked apply) and then unchecked it (again clicking apply), the reg entry went away.

    I’ve seen Microsoft do things like this more than once.
    Just a heads up for future traveler who run across this.

  51. john vinci jr

    You are my new hero getting mycomputer cleaned up is very easy with your help.

  52. Joe

    thanks! it no longer is there to suck my processor down–or up however you wish to view it. Yes, that file was infected and i could never totally get rid of it.

  53. moonkin

    Hello i have 4 CTFMON.EXE proceses on startup list is this normal or it should only be 1 ctfmon starting?

  54. christine

    I did just what you said and it took outlook off my computer!!!!! HELP I need that I have so many email on there, this is my work computer. How do I get it all back???

  55. Chuck

    I had to put ctfmon.exe BACK IN in order to get task manager icon to show in the system tray——

    Does anyone have a explanation/ solution for this?

  56. Jes

    Chuck, task manager does not have an icon in the system tray. Could you explain that more carefully?

  57. Charles

    Thanks to your clear illustration…I no longer have a “ctfmon” problem.

    Thank You

  58. Shyne

    Thanks, from Vancouver Island!!

  59. Sean

    Thanks so much. ctfmon.exe would not end at shut down. Boot times got agonizingly long and I run a slippery fast machine! It now boots in a few seconds with XP. So easy…:)

  60. Barrington

    It’s excellent!

    But you may have forgotten to tell people and then to close each tab and dialog window.

    I think that you should tell me that you used the American lanaguage as an example and that people should select their own language, which in my case is English UK.

  61. Barrington

    I give up. The software is creating errors in translating from English to American:
    Me should be people.
    I have used the word select in stead of placing Apply and OK between less than and greater than symbols.

  62. Shannon

    Thank you for helping me understand why there are so many processes running on my computer. Thank you for helping me stop them :)

  63. Chary Izzquierdocharyi

    A big THANK YOU from me too!

  64. gahhhhh

    CHrist! I’ve got office 2007, and it didn’t have the alternative setting thing. So I disabled it in XP, then removed it from startup via control panel, spybot s&d, and msconfig. I restart and it’s stiiiillll there.

  65. gahhhhh

    Oh and I just did the “completely unregister the dlls” step too, rebooted and it’s still there.

  66. don w

    Another useless process gone, 2 bazillion to go … give me Linux any day …
    Anyway, great tip. Thanks!

  67. bri

    Great article! Thanks, one less annoying process to bother me. :)

  68. Die

    Thanks, one less.

  69. w0ws

    Wonderful tips! Thxxxxx

  70. romil

    thanx a lot for ur help n support , this is for the first time i had ever got genuine solution of my problem n my pc is moving like hot knife in the butter…once again thank you a lot

  71. furball

    I did all these steps as well, but ctfmon still appears for my users (running under Terminal Services). Instead of deleting the file then finding out somebody needed it in the future, just right-click on the ctfmon.exe file and under the security tab (NTFS only), remove the users power users group. Reboot and voila! No more ctfmon running in the background.

    Hope this helps. :P

  72. Nic

    Thanks a lot for the help, Ive been struggling with it for days now. I do have a few questions to ask about it though, can it be used as spyware and can it be activated on my computer from another computer like a virus or something. I am pretty sure i got rid of it but the thought of it coming back without me realizing is killing me, it eats up all my internet cap and i cant shake the feeling that it can be used to see what i type. Thanks Nic

  73. kash

    thanks…great tips

  74. Cameron

    thanks i heard that ctfmon interfares with google chrome so thanks for the guide.

  75. G N Pradeep

    Thanks a lot. I had been searching the solution from a long time for ctfmon.exe. At last by How-To-Geek website i found the solution, which solved my problem.

  76. Keith

    I was having mucho problems with my wireless internet connectivity. It would transfer data briefly and then hang. Removing CTFMON seemed to fix the problem.

  77. Vinayak

    Thanks, i have get rid of something i didnt know about.

  78. John

    The Geek RULES. I’ve been trading blows with this issue (ctfmon) for as long as I have run XP. 90 seconds after I stumble onto the Geek, problem solved. ‘Nuff said.

  79. Quinn

    Thx very much, iv been trying to disable ctfmon for ages, it was driving me mad….brilliant!

  80. Quinn

    i can remember a time when CTFMON didnt run on my pc ( cos of my config probly ), looks like im back to that good old time..woop te do

  81. Sameera

    thanks for ur guide.

  82. Danny

    Thanks very much it worked. Have rebooted and has not shown up on my start up…it was a real pain every time I tried to shut down the computor. Much appreciated..thanks

  83. Dinesh Kotia

    It was really helpful. I tried the third and fifth method, it works. It (ctfmon.exe) was a head ache for me. Thank you very much.

  84. Waffles

    Thanks man! Now i have one less lag!

  85. Lisa

    Thanks for the post! One more useless thing disabled!

  86. Paweł

    this ugly process was annoying me so badly that i googled it and found this funny geek article;] now i know that i need this process and it’s not useless shit from some crappy software. thanks

  87. bsvols

    Thanks for this excellent guide. I’ve had it (ctfmon.exe) blocked from auto-starting with WinPatrol for ages, but just plain TURNING IT OFF is much better!

  88. NightRider

    Thanks a lot for this ! neatly explained. I was totally annoyed with that ctfmon.exe simply running in the background. Thanks a lot

  89. Z33Drifty

    I have cftmon.exe but I don’t have any of the microsoft progams. Should I just delete it?

  90. K2kidd

    You are awesome. Thanks But everyone one should also know that there is a virus same name but with caps.

  91. Aqua

    “I have cftmon.exe but I don’t have any of the Microsoft “OFFICE” programs. Should I just delete it?”
    I was wondering about this myself, it makes IE start in ONLINE mode, even when I set it to offline and reboot.

    It seems that the part mentioned about “Languages”; not MS Office, does this.

  92. BeautifulDestruction

    What if I dont have “Regional Language Options” as a choice under Control Panel? Is it somewhere else?

    Windows XP Home

    Thank you for your assistance…. and, thank you, K2. Next question on my list involves some stuff in caps. :-(

  93. Grumpy Old Techie

    Yes, cftmon is responsible for a lot of minor problems and popups.

    But it can also cause major problems if you have voice recognition
    software other than the stuff built into Office/XP.

    Dragon, Read & Write,and others, often install their own voice-command queue/stack, and when ctfmon starts it’s services and office support
    for voice commands, the two conflict horribly. Crashes, freezes and
    general mayhem become common, and people go into despair.


    Grumpy Old Techie.

  94. hasan


  95. ctfmon hater

    The tweeking in ‘Regional Settings’ I didn’t know this one. I’ve been a computer technician 11 years now, that damn ‘ctfmon’ always bothered me to the extreme. What I did was deleted it. Sometimes I had problems after deleting the file.
    You see I’m french canadian, (province of Québec) and been bilingual since birth. So the settings for my keyboard layout as always been ‘English (Canada) . Canadian Multilingual Standard.
    So I guess because of that, the “!*&?%@” ‘ctfmon’ file was there all the time.

    Thank U some much Geeks!!!!!

  96. trtgfc17

    So I just did this run through to fix the ctfmon.exe from running, but has anyone ever heard of the system32 virus running through ctfmon.exe??? Just wondering if I disable this and then it doesn’t eradicate a system32 virus.

  97. ak

    this is also could potentially be a virus or spyware but not it will be spelt ctfm0n.exe (with a zero 0).

  98. ak

    W32/Autorun-AYX is a worm for the Windows platform.

    W32/Autorun-AYX spreads via removable storage devices.

    When W32/Autorun-AYX is installed it creates the file \CTFM0N.EXE.

    The following registry entry is created to run CTFM0N.EXE on startup:


  99. Dennis

    That helpsed a great deal. My antivirus and firewall always picked it as malware at every startup. Now I will rest better knowing I will have one less nag.

  100. Elizabeth

    Thank you so much… I can finally load a web page again… what else can I shut off?

  101. gluria

    ctfuckmon..i unchecked it in msconfig startup and still when i restarted my laptop xp it was still checked then searched and i found this site how to geek..tnx alot solved my problem^^


    I have been so furious with most of the pesky critters from run32dll exe to the meantioned ctmon that I uninstalled office 2003 from my computer. Took up so much mb on my system not talking about the updates. Good riddens. Now at least my windows runs like brand new. Thanks so much for info. Just read it a little late.

  103. Carol

    I came here ’cause it’s in the msconfig, didn’t know what it was, and saw it’s related to MS Office products — which I don’t have! So I must have the virus/trojan version. :(

    Have gone through the steps, and now will reboot to see if it comes back. In Windows folder I renamed it to ctfmon.old, but doing a search saw it was also in a couple SP folders — did not rename those. Those are probably there to be used if computer does have MS Office installed. Don’t know. We’ll see what happens. If it does come back, is there a tool to remove it, like from Symantec? Saw an article there, but didn’t see a tool, only regedits.

  104. Ann

    Great and easy to follow. I had no trouble finally getting ctfmon off my laptop!

  105. Rebecca

    HELP! Okay, I have XP & Office 2007. So I followed the instructions and all worked great ……..until:

    I got to the System Config Utility. When I try taking it off the Startup — I get the following message:

    An Access Denied error was returned while attempting to change a service. You may need to log on using an Administrator account to make certain changes.

    BUT I AM logged in as an administrator. So what’s with that?

  106. femphile

    very nice
    excellent it worked from control pannel

  107. linda

    easy to follow first time used your instruction and solved the problem ,windows xp profetional

  108. linda

    easy to follow first time used your instruction and solved the problem ,windows xp profetional



  110. Gareth Gee

    I’m a Mac user and not well-versed on the inner workings of PCs, but I’ve got a friend’s slowed down PC to fix up, and this tip really helped. VERY well written – which is more than can be said for some of this Microsoft gear, if today’s hassles are anything to go by… Thanks!

  111. USnTHEM

    Thank you thank you! The ‘language bar’ has been driving me mad for years. Your WINXP step 2a did the trick. One PC fixed three more to go!

    Thanks again!

  112. paleolith

    Once again the Guru of Geeks has proven he is the wily wizard of software, hardware, and technology.

  113. jlw

    THANK YOU! That’s been bugging me for a long time.

  114. gjk

    hindi translation needs lot of improvement.

  115. duddits

    I always hear it doesn’t use many resources so why bother. Now just imagine a million of those tiny little programs running. What do you have left. At the rate everyone wants to auto-run programs you soon will not have a computer that is usable. The more we get rid of the better. There are a lot of companies that need to listen to this. EXAMPLES: ADOBE, MICROSOFT AND MANY OTHERS. If you have any doubts look at how many items get started after you install adobe products and the same with any of Microsoft’s live products.

  116. yvette

    Yay! This site is very very helpful.

  117. jim

    Worked for me!! And my start-up goes faster tho i can’t tell any other differences yet. Are there other differences?

    Also, twas kinda funny: as i restarted my computer … it felt like a much aggrieved Windows told me that i had messed up it’s startup capabilities and it couldn’t give me the service i was accustomed to. Kudos to Windows tho, cuz they didn’t just gripe and put cftmon.exe back on … they have a little box to check if i don’t want them to bother me about this again. That worked (i think) after the 2nd start-up.

    Speaking of putting things back on: they do that with Outlook Express. Do you have one that erases Outlook Express? or at least banishes it from being alert and active on my computer?

    thanks, sez jim

  118. Alex

    Thanks a lot! It worked like a champ. I did everything from delete the .exe from system32, kept removing the startup items, etc. This thing was almost a virus! But thanks to a few clicks it’s gone! Just for the heck of it, I also unregged the dll’s also. I hate CTFMon and it’s useless. Thanks again!

  119. Bassim

    Using the free version of WinPatrol is more than enough to stop any process or service.

    I think, WinPatrol is a must for any PC user.

  120. Gruneichtime

    “Wow! Thank you so much! I had removed that thing several times, but it would always come back. And not only 1 but sometimes 2 or 3 of them would pop up….Thanks again!

  121. Chickenlips

    If I may ask a question … I’ve been streamlining my computer, and I inadvertently disabled the language bar – which I use. It must have been when I was disabling some services/processes (services.msc) to speed up my PC. Can you help me get it back? I’d like to type in Japanese again … under region & language, it still has Japanese IME listed there … but I cannot actually use it without hot keys or the language bar here on my taskbar (or desktop). your help would be greatly appreciated.

  122. Tony Sims

    Just Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou

More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!