When you turn on a Windows PC, a series of hidden system services and processes kick in. These processes determine how Windows is displayed on the screen, how the device connects to the local network, how it accesses connected devices, how it logs into Windows, and more. Without them, your PC won’t work.
One of the more unusual processes you will see in Windows 10 is the lockapp.exe process. This isn’t just an old executable file, as lockapp.exe is responsible for drawing part of the lock screen (the screen you’ll see before you log in). If you’re curious about this system process, here’s what you need to know.
What is lockapp.exe and is it safe?
When you first load up your Windows 10 PC, you won’t immediately see a sign-in prompt – you’ll see a wallpaper, a clock, and the date, as well as any other status items you’ve added, including network connectivity and the level of the battery. This is the lock screen, which is nothing but a fascinating home screen for your PC.
The lockapp.exe process is what generates and controls this screen. It doesn’t do much else and shouldn’t cause a lot of problems for your system. While some users have reported high CPU and RAM usage from time to time, this is an unusual situation, as lockapp.exe shouldn’t use a lot of resources during normal usage.
When you log in, lockapp.exe should be inactive or hidden, waiting to lock your PC or log out again. As an authentic system process, lockapp.exe is completely safe, but in the rare event that malware masquerades on your system with the same file name, you can check if it is genuine by using the steps below.
Can Lockapp.exe cause high usage of CPU, RAM, or other system resources?
In normal use, the lockapp.exe process should use a very limited amount of system resources – we are talking about a few megabytes of RAM. CPU usage is also likely to be limited during the login process and should be zero once logged in.
This is because lockapp.exe is either in “suspended” mode once logged in (which means it is not actively running) or it is locked and hidden completely. You can check this for yourself using Task Manager, but it should be the same for all Windows 10 users.
Troubleshooting lockapp.exe on Windows 10
However, there are online reports that lockapp.exe causes some CPU and RAM issues. This is unusual and could be caused by a bug or damaged system files. If you suspect your system files are damaged, you can run the System File Checker (SFC) tool.
- To do this, right-click the Start menu and select the Windows PowerShell (Administrator) option.
- In the new PowerShell window, type sfc/scannow and select the Enter key on your keyboard.
The SFC tool will take some time to complete a system scan. If it detects corrupt files, it will use a confidential snapshot of the system files to restore them. You may need to restart your PC when done.
If SFC does not detect the corrupt files, but your system is not up to date, you may be missing important bug fixes. To fix this, you’ll need to check for any updates.
- You can check for updates in Windows Settings. Right-click on the Start menu and select Settings to open this menu.
- In the Windows Settings menu, you will need to select Update & Security > Windows Update to view the update options. If updates are available, select the appropriate option to download and install them. Otherwise, select Check for Updates to start a search.
If system updates are available, follow the on-screen instructions to download and install them, then restart your PC to fully apply them. While this does not guarantee that any issues with the lock screen overlay will be resolved, it will ensure that the latest available bug fixes are installed.
How to disable lockapp.exe on Windows 10
Although lockapp.exe is a system process, it is not as important as dwm.exe and other critical processes. Disabling it will take you directly to the login prompt.
- To disable the lockapp.exe process, you will need to create a new Windows registry entry. To do this, right-click the Start menu and select Run.
- In the Run dialog box, type regedit, then select OK.
- Using the registry editor, locate the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Personalization key. If it’s not there, create it by right-clicking the Windows key, then selecting New > Key. After locating (or creating) this key, right-click the white box on the right, selecting New > DWORD (32-bit) Value from the list. Name the new NoLockScreen value.
- Double-click the new value, then type 1 in the Value data box. Select OK to save.
Once saved, the lock screen overlay will be disabled and lockapp.exe will not activate. The next time you lock your PC or log in, you will be prompted for access directly – the overlay will not be displayed.
Lock screen configuration
The lock screen is configurable, allowing you to add certain notifications, such as the number of unread emails in your inbox. To set it up, you’ll need to use Windows Settings.
- Right-click on the Start menu and select Settings to get started.
- In the Settings menu, select Personalization > Lock Screen. From here, you can change your lock screen wallpaper and add other apps to view their “quick status” notifications. This could include your calendar, inbox, news app, and more.
How to check if lockapp.exe is genuine
Windows 10 is better at protecting users from malware that pretends to be authentic system processes than previous versions of Windows, but it’s not impossible for malware like this to infect your PC. If you want to verify that lockapp.exe is genuine and safe to run, you can do so using Task Manager.
- To start Task Manager, right-click on the Start menu and select Task Manager.
- On the Details tab of the Task Manager window, find the lockapp.exe process. Right-click, then select Open File Location.
- If the lockapp.exe process running on your PC is genuine, Windows will open the C:\Windows\SystemApps\Microsoft.Lockapp_ folder, with the underscore in the folder name followed by a series of numbers and letters that may change, depending on your Windows version (e.g. Microsoft.Lockapp_cw5n1h2txyewy).
However, if the location opened in File Manager is not in the C:\Windows\SystemApps folder, you can probably assume that the process is rogue. You will need to check and remove the malware from your PC before you can safely start using it again.
Protecting and maintaining a Windows 10 installation
Lockapp.exe is a legitimate Windows 10 system process just like ntoskrnl.exe and others. Disabling it shouldn’t cause any problems, but if your PC is unstable, there are other steps you will need to take to protect and maintain your system. You can start by updating your Windows PC and regularly checking your PC for malware.
If your PC continues to have problems, it’s probably time to consider starting over with a fresh install of Windows 10. Of course, high CPU and RAM issues could indicate struggling hardware, so if your PC is slow, it might be time to invest in some new hardware upgrades to get your PC running smoothly again.