How to Fix Shlwapi.dll Not Found or Missing Errors

If System Restore doesn't fix the error, run the System File Checker tool

Shlwapi.dll errors are caused by situations that lead to the removal or corruption of the shlwapi DLL file. In some cases, shlwapi.dll errors could indicate a registry problem, a virus or malware issue, or even a hardware failure.

Microsoft describes this file as the Shell Light-weight Utility Library.

Shlwapi.dll Errors

shlwapi DLL error message in Windows

There are several ways shlwapi.dll errors can show up on your computer. Here are some of the more common error messages you might see:

  • Shlwapi.dll Not Found
  • This application failed to start because shlwapi.dll was not found. Re-installing the application may fix this problem.
  • Cannot find [PATH]\shlwapi.dll
  • The file shlwapi.dll is missing.
  • Cannot start [APPLICATION]. A required component is missing: shlwapi.dll. Please install [APPLICATION] again.

Shlwapi.dll error messages might appear while using or installing certain programs, or when Windows starts or shuts down.

The context of the error is an important piece of information that will be helpful while solving the problem. The error message could apply to any program or system that might utilize the file on any of Microsoft's operating systems, including Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows 2000.

How to Fix Shlwapi.dll Errors

Follow these steps in the order they're given below to try the more likely fixes first.

Don't download shlwapi.dll from a "DLL download" website. There are many reasons why downloading a DLL file is a bad idea. If you need a copy of this file, it's best to obtain it from its original, legitimate source.

  1. Restore shlwapi.dll from the Recycle Bin. The easiest possible cause of a "missing" shlwapi.dll file is that you've mistakenly deleted it.

    If you suspect that you've accidentally deleted shlwapi.dll but you've already emptied the Recycle Bin, you may be able to recover shlwapi.dll with a free file recovery program.

    Start Windows in Safe Mode to complete any of these steps if you're unable to access Windows normally due to the error.

  2. Run a virus/malware scan of your entire system. Some shlwapi.dll errors could be related to a virus or other malware infection on your computer that has damaged the DLL file. It's even possible that the error you're seeing is related to a hostile program that's masquerading as the file.

  3. Use System Restore to undo recent system changes. If you suspect that the shlwapi.dll error was caused by a change made to an important file or configuration, System Restore could solve the problem.

  4. Run the sfc /scannow System File Checker command to replace a missing or corrupt copy of the shlwapi.dll file. Because this DLL file is provided by Microsoft, at least in some versions of Windows, System File Checker should restore it.

    Try your best to complete this step. Windows should be able to place the shlwapi.dll file in its proper place to fix related errors.

  5. Install any available Windows updates. Many service packs and other patches replace or update some of the hundreds of Microsoft distributed DLL files on your computer. The shlwapi.dll file could be included in one of those updates.

  6. Reinstall the program that uses the shlwapi.dll file. If the DLL error occurs when you use a particular program, reinstalling the program should replace the file.

    If you can't reinstall the program, try uninstalling any updates that might have been installed around the time you started seeing the shlwapi.dll error. For example, open Control Panel and uninstall the most recent browser update if there is one and if the DLL error is associated with the browser.

  7. Update the drivers for hardware devices that might be related to shlwapi.dll. If, for example, you're receiving a "The file shlwapi.dll is missing" error when you play a 3D video game, try updating the drivers for your video card.

    The shlwapi.dll file may or may not be related to video cards—this was just an example. The key here is to pay very close attention to the context of the error and troubleshoot accordingly.

  8. Roll back a driver to a previously installed version if shlwapi.dll errors began after updating a particular hardware device's driver.

  9. Test your memory and then test your hard drive. I've left the majority of hardware troubleshooting to the last step, but your computer's memory and hard drive are easy to test and are the most likely components that might cause shlwapi.dll errors as they fail.

    If the hardware fails any of your tests, replace the memory or replace the hard drive as soon as possible.

  10. Repair your installation of Windows. If the individual troubleshooting advice above is unsuccessful, performing a startup repair or repair installation should restore all Windows DLL files to their working versions.

  11. Use a free registry cleaner to repair shlwapi.dll related issues in the registry. A free registry cleaner program may be able to help by removing invalid shlwapi.dll registry entries that might be causing the DLL error.

  12. Perform a clean installation of Windows. This will erase everything from the hard drive and install a fresh copy of Windows. If none of the steps above correct the shlwapi.dll error, this should be your next course of action.

    All the information on your hard drive will be erased during this step. Make sure you've made the best attempt possible to fix the shlwapi.dll error using a troubleshooting step prior to this one.

  13. Troubleshoot for a hardware problem if any shlwapi.dll errors persist. After a clean install of Windows, your DLL problem can only be hardware related.

Need More Help?

If you're not interested in fixing this DLL problem yourself, see How Do I Get My Computer Fixed? for a full list of your support options, plus help with everything along the way like figuring out repair costs, getting your files off, choosing a repair service, and a lot more.

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