How to Fix User32.dll Not Found or Missing Errors

If System File Checker doesn't help, reinstall the program that shows the error

User32.dll errors are caused by situations that lead to the removal or corruption of the user32 DLL file, an important system file required by Windows to properly display graphical user interfaces.

In some cases, user32.dll errors could indicate a registry problem, a virus or malware issue, or even a hardware failure.

This 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 10Windows 8Windows 7Windows VistaWindows XP, and Windows 2000.

User32.dll Errors

user32 DLL error message in Windows

There are several ways user32.dll errors can show up on your computer. Here are some of the more common messages you might see:

  • User32.dll Not Found
  • This application failed to start because user32.dll was not found. Re-installing the application may fix this problem
  • Cannot find [PATH]\user32.dll
  • The file user32.dll is missing
  • Cannot start [APPLICATION]. A required component is missing: user32.dll. Please install [APPLICATION] again

These error messages might appear while using or installing certain programs, when Windows starts or shuts down, or maybe even during a Windows installation.

The context of the error is an important piece of information that will be helpful while solving the problem.

How to Fix User32.dll Errors

Work through these steps in the order they're presented, which starts with easier solutions:

Don't download user32.dll from a "DLL download" website. There are many reasons why downloading a DLL file this way 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 user32.dll from the Recycle Bin. The easiest possible cause of a "missing" user32.dll file is that you've mistakenly deleted it.

    If you suspect that this has happened, but you've already emptied the Recycle Bin, you might be able to recover the file with a free file recovery program. Just makes sure you deleted the file (not your antivirus program), and that it was working properly before you did that.

    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 user32.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 user32.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 user32.dll file. Since this file is provided by Microsoft, the System File Checker tool should restore it.

    Try your best to complete this step. Restoring the original user32.dll file is a likely solution to this DLL error.

  5. Reinstall the program that uses the user32.dll file. If the error occurs when you use a particular program, reinstalling the program should replace the file.

    If you're not sure which program showed the error, enter the tasklist /m User32.dll command in Command Prompt to get a list of all the programs that are currently using user32.dll. One of them might ring a bell and point you to the program you should try reinstalling.

  6. 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 user32.dll file could be included in one of those updates.

  7. Update the drivers for hardware devices that might be related to user32.dll. If, for example, you're receiving a "The file user32.dll is missing" error when you play a 3D video game, try updating the drivers for your video card.

    This 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 user32.dll errors began after updating a particular hardware device's driver.

  9. Test your memory and then test your hard drive. We'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 user32.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 user32.dll related issues in the registry. A registry cleaner program may be able to help by removing invalid user32.dll registry entries that might be causing the error.

    See our Registry Cleaners FAQ for more on what these programs are used for (hint: they're not necessary in most situations). They're included here as a "last resort" attempt before the destructive step coming up next.

  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 error, this should be your next course of action.

    All the information on your hard drive will be erased during a clean install. Make sure you've made the best attempt possible to fix the user32.dll error using a troubleshooting step prior to this one.

  13. Troubleshoot for a hardware problem if any user32.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 problem yourself, see our article 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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