What Is Ctfmon.Exe and Why Is It Running?

What to do when you see this Windows process running

CtfMon.exe (or Collaborative Translation Framework) is a background process that regulates language options and alternative input devices. On Windows 10, the background process is called CtfLoader and is usually listed somewhere on the Windows task manager at startup.

CtfMon is entirely harmless most of the time, but it’s easy to turn CtfMon.exe off in Windows 10 or even disable it from turning on in the first place.

Why Leave CtfMon Running?

CtfLoader is useful on Windows 10 when the intention is to use an alternate language or language input device. This tool is useful for keyboards and similar input devices that rely on voice recognition, special input schemes, or electronic input––such as an electronic touchpad that converts handwriting into text.

Here are some example scenarios where keeping CtfMon running in the background is a benefit:

  • A Windows 10 user wants to type in Mandarin without a keyboard that features Mandarin characters.
  • A Windows 10 user wants to use a keyboard that features characters from a non-English language.
  • A Windows 10 user wants to type with a braille keyboard.
  • A Windows 10 user wants to write text by hand instead of using a keyboard.

While these examples are highly specific, but they illustrate types of situations in which CtfMon is helpful. With regards to everybody else, however, CtfMon is unnecessary to leave on in the background.

Can CtfMon Be Harmful?

CtfMon.exe on Windows 10, or on any previous version of Windows, generally isn’t harmful. It doesn’t weigh down the CPU or memory resources, meaning that leaving it running in the background shouldn't affect any primary computing needs. Given that CtfLoader is barely consuming any system resources while running in the background, there shouldn’t be any significant performance drops while CtfLoader is activated in the Windows task manager.

To close CtfLoader, simply right-click CTF Loader in the Task Manager and click on End task.

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Is CtfMon In System32?

Granted, it might be annoying if CtfMon.exe continues popping up at startup or after it’s been turned off. The only situation where CtfMon.exe might be dangerous is if it’s located outside of the System32 folder, in which case there might be a virus on the system that’s posing as CtfMon.

Figuring out whether CtfMon is located in System32 is as easy as following three steps:

  1. Open the search bar (bottom left) and type Ctfmon.exe.

  2. Right-click ctfmon.exe and click again Open file location.

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  3. The System32 directory should appear in Windows File Explorer.

If a directory other than System32 appears, it might be time to run a full system scan with the latest antivirus software.

How to Disable CtfMon.exe on Windows 10

To stop CtfMon.exe from appearing at startup, do the following:

  1. Find and open System Configuration.

  2. Click the Startup tab.

  3. Click Open Task Manager.

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  4. Find ctfmon.exe on the Startup tab of Task Manager. Right-click, then click again on the Disable option.

Turn Off CtfMon.exe in Administrative Tools

A riskier, alternative way to turn off CtfMon.exe for good on Windows 10 is to navigate to Administrative Tools.

This possible solution is known to cause issues with Bluetooth keyboards as well as other onscreen keyboards, but some users report that this procedure stops CtfMon from continuing to appear at startup.

  1. Open the Control Panel and search for Administrative Tools on the upper right search bar.

  2. Once the Administrative Tools window is open, double click Services.

  3. Scroll down in the Services window and select Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Service Panel.

  4. Set the Startup type to Disabled.