What Is Windows Shell Experience Host?

The Windows Shell Experience Host is also known as ShellExperienceHost.exe. It is the Windows component responsible for the windowed display feature of universal Windows applications. It is the component of the Windows shell (basically, the graphical user interface on Windows) that specifically handles universal apps.

The Windows Shell Experience Host process handles universal app interface behavior with respect to elements like the taskbar, Start Menu transparency, calendar, clock, background behavior, etc. The process made its debut in the OS with the launch of Windows 10. Over the years, it has been tweaked and refined with each new build of Windows 10, but its core functions remain the same.

Normally, you won’t even notice the existence of the Windows Shell Experience Host. This is because it is not designed to be noticed. It typically consumes little to no CPU resources. Certainly, it normally doesn’t use anywhere near the amount of processor resources being reported by annoyed users lately.

Why Is Windows Shell Experience Host Showing High CPU Usage?

If the ShellExperienceHost.exe process has been using way more CPU resources than it should, you will be wondering why this is the case. After all, it is supposed to be one of the least power-hungry system processes around.

There are several reasons why the CPU usage of ShellExperienceHost.exe has spiked (if it has). Perhaps, you set your PC’s background to use a slideshow or use a slideshow creator app to change your desktop background at regular intervals. If you monitor the Shell Experience Host process in Task Manager, you may notice sudden jumps in memory and CPU usage whenever a desktop element changes.

Although, this shouldn’t be enough to make the process consistently use above the expected processor usage rate.

There is another, often overlooked, potential reason for ShellExperienceHost.exe’s spike in CPU usage: it is not the real Shell Experience Host process. It is possible to mistake a rogue executable for the real ShellExperienceHost.exe. For example, online criminals have been known to use the trojan miners ShellExperienceHost.exe & MicrosoftShellHost.exe to mine for the Monero cryptocurrency using victims’ CPUs.

An easy way to find out whether the ShellExperienceHost.exe exhibiting high CPU usage is fake or real is to find its location. Below is the location of the genuine process:

C:\Windows\SystemApps\ShellExperienceHost_cw5n1h2txyewy

Right-click the process in Task Manager and select Open File Location from the context menu. If Windows Explorer opens to the location above, you can rest easy as the executable isn’t malicious.

How to Resolve the “Windows Shell Experience Host Suspended or Stopped” Issue

Even if the ShellExperienceHost.exe in Task Manager is the genuine process, it can still cause your PC to become sluggish because it uses too much CPU power. Check out the methods below that many people have successfully used to fix the bug with this process.

Update the Operating System

Being on the latest version of Windows can help to solve many bugs and glitches found in earlier versions. So, make sure that you have installed all available OS updates. Some minor updates contain bug fixes and patches for system errors like ShellExperienceHost.exe high CPU usage issue.

Here’s how to check for updates for your OS:

  1. Right-click the Start Menu icon and select Settings to launch the Settings app.
  2. On the main Settings screen, select Update & Security.
  3. On the Update & Security screen, switch to the Windows Update tab and click the “Check for updates” button.
  4. The OS will check the Windows Update servers and download any available updates.

When the updates have been downloaded, you can reboot your system now to start installing them or schedule the reboot for later.

Hopefully, with the latest OS installed, ShellExperienceHost.exe and other system processes will no longer use more than the expected percentage of CPU.

Turn Off Automated Accent Colors

The ShellExperienceHost.exe process is responsible for making visual changes to your desktop and its background. The more changes take place on the desktop, the more the process has to work and the more CPU it uses. This may be the cause of the high CPU usage for ShellExperienceHost.exe on PCs whose desktop background is a slideshow.

Since the background changes every few minutes, the Shell Experience Host is regularly called upon. In addition, your PC picks a new accent color to match the new background image, by default. This gives the process even more work to do.

To lessen the CPU consumption of ShellExperienceHost.exe, you can try turning off automatic accent colors. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Right-click the Start Menu icon and select Settings to launch the Settings app.
  2. On the main Settings screen, select Personalization.
  3. On the Personalization screen, switch to the Colors tab.
  4. Scroll down the Colors tab to the “Choose your accent color” section.
  5. Untick the “Automatically pick an accent color from my background” checkbox.

Exit the Settings app and check the CPU usage of ShellExperienceHost.exe in Task Manager after a few minutes. If the Shell Experience Host process now uses a moderate to low percentage of CPU, your issue has been fixed.

However, if the CPU usage by ShellExperienceHost.exe keeps jumping, try the next solution.

Disable Slideshow Background

If turning off automatic accent colors doesn’t help, changing your background style altogether may yield a better result. You can switch the slideshow style for a solid color or choose a static picture instead. Since either alternative is fixed, the Shell Experience Host will have less work to do and this can stop the high CPU usage.

  1. Right-click the Start Menu icon and select Settings to launch the Settings app.
  2. On the main Settings screen, select Personalization.
  3. On the Personalization screen, stay on the Background tab.
  4. Click the downward arrow button under the Background section in the right pane,
  5. Select Solid Color or Picture.

Like before, exit the Settings app and check the CPU usage of ShellExperienceHost.exe in Task Manager after a few minutes. If the Shell Experience Host process now uses a moderate to low percentage of CPU, your issue has been fixed.

Run an SFC Scan

You can run a System File Checker scan in a command line window to resolve the issue of ShellExperienceHost.exe high CPU usage if the methods above haven’t helped.

The SFC utility is built into Windows and can be used to repair system files. Since the Shell Experience Host is a system component, the usage jumps could be a result of problems with related system files.

Hence, you can use the SFC tool to find and fix system file errors if needed. Follow the steps below to do so.

  1. Right-click the Start Menu and select Control Panel (Admin) or PowerShell (Admin). Which option you see depends on your build of Windows 10.
  2. In the command line window, type “sfc /scannow” and hit the Enter key to begin the scan.
  3. When the scan is done (this can take up to an hour on older systems), reboot the machine.

The SFC tool is pretty good at finding and fixing corrupt system files. However, if this solution doesn’t stop ShellExperienceHost.exe from displaying usage jump, there are still a few possible fixes you can try.

Set CPU Usage Limit for ShellExperienceHost.exe

The Task Manager in Windows 10 is much more than a simple process overview table. You can use it to perform specialized tweaks such as setting CPU usage limits for processes that tend to consume a lot of processor power.

So, if other methods have failed to stop the Shell Experience Host from slowing down the system through abnormal CPU usage, this method is an option.

When you limit a process’ CPU usage, it won’t be able to use more than the percentage of processor power you have stipulated for it. This will free up processor power for other programs that need it.

Here’s how to limit the CPU usage for ShellExperienceHost.exe:

  1. Open Task Manager. Right-click the Start Menu and select Task Manager.
  2. Click the Details tab.
  3. Scroll down the list to the ShellExperienceHost.exe process.
  4. Right-click the process and select Set Affinity.
  5. Under “Which processors are allowed to run ShellExperienceHost.exe?”, set your processor affinity.

The Shell Experience Host process doesn’t really do any intensive tasks and the CPU power it needs it modest at best. Hence, you can easily set affinity to one or two processor cores without causing any issues.

Run the System Maintenance Troubleshooter (Windows 7 Users)

The System Maintenance Troubleshooter can help users on Windows 7 to stop the Shell Experience Host process from consuming too much CPU. If you’re on this version of Windows, the steps below will help you start the troubleshooter.

  1. Type “control panel” in Search and click the applet.
  2. Change the View By mode in Control Panel to Small Icons.
  3. Select Troubleshooting.
  4. Click the “View maintenance tasks” link under System and Security.
  5. In the System Maintenance window, click the Next button.
  6. On the next screen, select “Try troubleshooting as an administrator”.

The tool will attempt to resolve any discovered issues. When the troubleshooter has completed its job, click the Close button and check whether ShellExperienceHost.exe’s CPU usage is back to normal.

Use a PC Optimizer

Windows is essentially a collection of programs and processes that run in the background. It is no big surprise that some of these programs conflict with one another on occasion. Unfortunately, some processes are very important to how Windows works. If a third-party program is in conflict with a system component like ShellExperienceHost.exe, it can result in various issues for the machine.

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Boot Windows in a Clean Environment

To manually find out whether any programs are conflicting with the Shell Experience Host process, you can boot Windows in a clean environment and check whether the CPU usage of ShellExperienceHost.exe becomes stable.

A clean boot disables third-party drivers and startup items and boots Windows mostly with Microsoft services and startups. This helps you to safely troubleshoot your issues without the risk that a third-party app will interfere.

To clean-boot Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Press Win Key+R to open the Run box.
  2. Type “msconfig” and click OK.
  3. In the System Configuration dialog, make sure the General tab is selected.
  4. Under Startup Selection, choose Selective Startup.
  5. Make sure the boxes next to “Load system services” and “Use original boot configuration” are ticked.
  6. Untick the “Load startup items” checkbox.
  7. Switch to the Services tab and tick the “Hide all Microsoft services” checkbox.
  8. Click the Disable All button near the bottom right to disable all third-party services.
  9. Click the Apply button, then click the OK button, to save the changes.

Restart the computer. It will boot into a Clean environment.

Check how ShellExperienceHost.exe behaves in clean boot. If the CPU usage is minimal, one of the disabled services, drivers or startup items might be conflicting with the Shell Experience Host process.

You can try to narrow down the conflicting third-party item. Return to System Configuration and enable half of the disabled services and reboot the machine. Keep doing this until you’ve found the driver, startup item or service causing the spike on CPU usage by ShellExperienceHost.exe.

Alternatively, if you believe that a corrupt driver could be the issue, you can update all your system drivers. Doing this will eliminate all outdated and corrupt drivers in one stroke. Moreover, it may be hard to figure out which specific driver might be related to the bug; hence, a batch 4driver update can save you time.

Windows can only update drivers individually through Device Manager. Windows Update only includes drivers for major hardware, and only with major updates. Meanwhile, going to the website of your hardware manufacturer to manually download and install every driver is simply inefficient.

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Your best bet is to turn to a third-party program like Auslogics Driver Updater that will find all the drivers you need and install them for you at a click of a button.

After updating your drivers, verify that the ShellExperienceHost.exe high CPU usage bug has been resolved.

Additional Tip: Restart the ShellExperienceHost.exe Process

First, a word of caution: The Shell Experience Host process is a critical component of Windows. Hence, you should never attempt to delete or disable it. Unless, that is, you’re okay with using your PC through a command line window 100% of the time.

However, you can temporarily end ShellExperienceHost.exe to stop the spike in CPU usage. Windows will restart the process in a few moments so there’s no need to worry.

Open Task Manager and navigate to the ShellExperienceHost.exe process. Right-click the process and select End Task.

Your PC’s desktop will likely go blank. Wait for a few moments and the UI elements will reappear.

We hope that this article has been of help in fixing the ShellExperienceHost.exe high CPU usage issue for you. You can tell us about the solution that worked for you in the comments.