Is it possible to do? It was easy to disable it in Vista and 7, and slightly more complicated but nonetheless easy to do in 8 and 8.1 as well.

Can it be done on Windows 10 reliably and repeatedly? It seems to work on a fresh install if you disable explorer, then suspend winlogon, then disable dwm. You can then proceed to reopen explorer and resume winlogon. However, after a few tries, the method no longer works. Dism and sfc/scannow seem to fix it, but that only works a few times as well. Any insight on this please?

1 Answer 1


I can disable DWM on Windows 10 too. But I can agree that it is more hard then on the Win 8.1. In Process Explorer with Administrative privilegies you have to do suspend explorer.exe -> kill dwm.exe so many times as long as the theme without DWM will appear at the moment on the top of the windows* (when I tested it without doing this, the Windows 10 always got stuck)!*! -> then kill explorer.exe -> suspend winlogon.exe -> kill dwm.exe. Now you can start explorer.exe and it will works, but without modern parts (ex. Start, Searching, popups with sound, network etc.).

!*! Here the winlogon.exe can log out you and the graphics driver crash. This is the worst step.

Known issues:

  1. Sometimes Process Explorer crashes so I'm recommending have open Task Manager from Windows 10 too (the best thing = copy procexp.exe into System32 folder for easy launching).
  2. When you'll resume the winlogon.exe process, the dwm.exe will start immediately, so you can't.
  3. Rendering engine of the IE can work without DWM.
  4. Graphics driver often crashing and returning into use the "Basic Microsoft display adapter".

Screenshot: http://imgup.cz/images/2016/06/11/Win_10killedDWM.png

  • How does the taskbar work without DWM? Any screenshots?
    – Anixx
    Jul 18, 2016 at 21:57
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    @Sonickyle27 By the way, some people disable DWM by renaming rundll32.exe into dwm.exe under Win8.x I do not know if it would work under Win10
    – Anixx
    Sep 11, 2017 at 12:43
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    Most of Explorer relies on the DWM running, and will refuse to work without it. I've tried force disabling DWM by suspending Winlogin and while it works and you get the basic theme, Windows will actually blue screen after a while. I've had better luck with alternative shells, such as Blackbox for Windows and BBLean, but they haven't been updated in some time and like to crash a lot when running on Windows 10.
    – user487867
    Sep 12, 2017 at 9:53
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    Actually BBZero seems to be maintained, so if you need a full alternative shell, that looks like the one to go for.
    – user487867
    Sep 12, 2017 at 10:23
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    @i336_ For full window transparency your Windows OS just needs to support layered windows, a functionality available since Windows 2000. It's also used for animating menu (item) / tooltip fade ins and outs and drag and drop ghosts. It doesn't need that level of "composition" as known from DWM nowadays. Check web.archive.org/web/20010610183909/http://msdn.microsoft.com/… for more info.
    – Ray
    Sep 16, 2021 at 15:17

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