What is mshta.exe?

The genuine mshta.exe file is a software component of Microsoft HTML Application Host by Microsoft.
Microsoft Windows is an operating system. Mshta.exe runs the Microsoft HTML Application Host, a utility responsible for executing HTA (HTML Application) files in the Windows OS. This is not considered harmful to your PC.

Microsoft HTML Application Host is a program whose source code consists of HTML, Dynamic HTML and a few scripting languages compatible with Internet Explorer such as VBScript or JScript. This technology was first introduced by Microsoft Windows in 1999, and patented in 2003. It is usually installed with Internet Explorer and is executed by the mshta.exe file.

The Microsoft Corporation founded in 1975 by Paul Allen and Bill Gates is an American multinational technology company that develops, manufactures and supports computer software, personal computers and consumer electronics. The company is noted for its Windows lineup of operating systems. Xbox video game consoles and the Microsoft Surface tablet lineup. Microsoft acquired Skype Technologies for $8.5 billion in 2011 and LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, and was the world's most valuable companies in 2016.

MsHTA stands for Microsoft HTML Application

The .exe extension on a filename indicates an executable file. Executable files may, in some cases, harm your computer. Therefore, please read below to decide for yourself whether the mshta.exe on your computer is a Trojan that you should remove, or whether it is a file belonging to the Windows operating system or to a trusted application.

Click to Run a Free Scan for mshta.exe related errors

Mshta.exe file information

Windows Task Manager with mshta
Mshta.exe process in Windows Task Manager

The process known as Microsoft® HTML Application host or Microsoft® HTML-programvert or ab0bb9e3b144cac60965e5440a4ee583 belongs to software Internet Explorer or Windows Internet Explorer or Microsoft Windows Operating System or ab0bb9e3b144cac60965e5440a4ee583 by Microsoft ( or SWIS.

Description: Mshta.exe is an important part of Windows, but often causes problems. Mshta.exe is located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder or sometimes in a subfolder of C:\ or in a subfolder of "C:\Program Files". Known file sizes on Windows 10/8/7/XP are 13,312 bytes (57% of all occurrences), 45,568 bytes and 6 more variants. 
Mshta.exe is a Windows system file. The file is a trustworthy file from Microsoft. The program has no visible window. Therefore the technical security rating is 4% dangerous; however you should also read the user reviews.

Uninstalling this variant: In case of any problems with mshta.exe, you can uninstall the software Tweak UI using the Uninstall a Program function of Windows Control Panel (Windows: Start, Settings, Control Panel, Uninstall a Program).

Recommended: Identify mshta.exe related errors

Important: Some malware disguises itself as mshta.exe, particularly when not located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder. Therefore, you should check the mshta.exe process on your PC to see if it is a threat. We recommend Security Task Manager for verifying your computer's security. This was one of the Top Download Picks of The Washington Post and PC World.


User Comments

it's multiplying its instances and couses RAM loss :-
it just pops up like ever 3 minutes and it comes back when u quarantine it or whatever you try
  Morgan Womack  
If it appeared out of nowhere, it's likely malicious
microsoft screwed my computer
add/remove programs
it messes up my IE
Microsoft Operating System File
  Not a dumbass   (further information)
Unless mshta.exe is not found within the SYSTEM32 folder of your XP/2000 based system YOU SHOULD NOT DELETE IT. This file is used by your OS to read HTA files it is non essential but deleting will screw your system up. If you find an instance of this file outside the system32 folder then it is an imposter, mshta.exe will only run in the system32 folder.
pop ups every second
Microsoft (R) HTML Application host
It shows up as a suspicious script error in my user account
  Don Alder  
mshta.exe is a part of Microsoft Windows Operating System which is needed to execute .HTA files.
It's legit if running from System32
  hate mac  
MSHTA is not dangerous, check microsoft website on html applications, i use it to make web based apps and its fine!
mshta.exe appears each time i run AVG Free Virus scan
nothing, but it does not allow me to get into the add and remove programs on control panel
  malinda mansbridge  
Winsock LSP files
If MSHTA.exe is the file reported as having a problem when a program crashes (check the report findings for the problem file name(s)) and a virus is found on your system then you can determine with a high degree of certainty that mshta.exe is masked and is in fact a virus. The prerequisites to removing the are checking the file location and size. However, if the file is located in the System32 folder and the size is correct, leave it alone. Trend Micros free system scan called Housecall will find and remove the virus.
  Ed Olivares, UPS Tech Support.  
My FW tagged it as a malicious script
Because of mshta.exe the system takes very much time to boot.
used for user accounts on Windows XP Home Edition
I am having problems with 2 user accounts on my computer. Both accounts, when you try top open control panel windows finds an error and closes down. Which means i can't get into control panel to do anything like start a new user or whatever. When i tried to get into control panel through safe mode. It opened but then it was frozen by an internet explorer script error. The process for this ie script error was mshta.exe. Now im not sure what to do... Does anyone know?
among the running processes
mshta.exe asked for permission then 2 seconds later i got trojan downloader through ie 6,running xp home,avg,ashampoo firewall
  chris johnson  
It is a valid windows program, used to open .hta files. However, some trojan viruses use it to open corrupted .hta files. This file should not be deleted, but if you have a problem, do a virus scan and search for the virus causing this to open. Here is a link to a virus info page that uses this.
  DJester   (further information)
Runs multiple versions of itself, linked with other misc. .exe files prior to SP3 and malware updates, still continues to relaunch and recreate itself even after delete, will turn off windows firewall if you do not install SP3
The process called mshta.exe, is used within Windows to allow the running of HTML Applications (.HTA Files). Mshta.exe is not required for Windows to work correctly. If you find that it is causing problems from your system, you should terminate it
  Geoffry   (further information)
Its malicious. it multiplies like wildfire. those who posted that its harmless are probably in on it. if you have it, get rid of it!
this app is used to run hta (html) files. mshta is not the virus, its the program running the virus! Something is calling mshta.exe with a file that is exeuting the code that is actually the virus. I use mshta.exe witin my corprate net for a number of custom web based applictions. If you are having problems with it, then you need to find what is calling it. Oh, and fyi: the files mshta runs don't have to end with hta! Read up on viruses that use mshta as the delivery platform
  Kaos Kidd  
Process name: Microsoft HTML Application Host
  Christina H. DELL Tech Support   (further information)
It pops up far too frequently / acts like a spy / zone alarms gives notice to dis-allow, so we certainly can live without it.
MS Windows XP - Initiates and executes when User Accounts Utility is invoked from Control Panel
  Palin is a moron  
don't get rid of it; this file is part of the default windows package and allows users to run .hta files.
It causes a pop up on my desktop or overlapping my current browser every 3mins without fail.
As said below, it's a windows process, but can be used to open viruses. I know it opens when you access user accounts in XP home. Close it if it seems to be hogging memory and it's not one of your regular processes, feel free to close it.
used for user accounts on Windows XP Home Edition
I have 41 mshta.exe running in my task manager right now. I'm pretty sure anyone who tells me this is a good thing is slightly dense or someone wanting it to be there. Any real help would be much appreciated.
  Concerned User  
It pops up every 5 seconds or so, and refuses to go away no matter how many times I click it off. Its in some japanese words and it just popped out of nowhere and refuses to go away. Only got rid of it temporarily when I went to task manager end process of mshta.exe, but came back the moment I re-logged on.
Pulled a copy from C:\WINDOWS\ServicePackFiles\i386 directory and overwrote instances found in other folders and my problems cleared up NOT a recommended solution for non-advanced users but it worked for me with no issues as of yet.
Do NOT delete mshta.exe, it is a component of your Operating System. Go into control panel Performance and Maintenance Scheduled Tasks. If you are having multiple instances of mshta.exe, then there will be probably about 100 "At" programs scheduled to run at hourly intervals (At1, At29, etc.). DELETE ALL OF THESE. This will stop mshta.exe from running. I tried deleting mshta.exe first, and it tore my OS apart, only delete the things that are making it run in Scheduled Tasks.
One mshta.exe instance opens for each tab you open in your browser(s). So 14 borwsers or browser tabs will give you 14 mshta in your Task manager. Essential Windows file for handling html.
After about 10 minutes of playing an online java-based game, I had about 13 mshta.exe's running on my task manager. I don't think that my system requires that many to run it, besides the fact that I've never had more than one running at a time, if any.
  Irritated Gamer  
if you are having multiple instances running in task manager check your schedualed tasks folder for items listed with names like at1 and remove them this may help.
I understand this to be a genuine microsoft app, but watch for malicious use by trojans - recently had a case where I couldn't clear an infection, finally discovered 20+ scheduled tasks in task scheduler using mshta to presumably download trojans/malware from various websites.
I was just hit by the Thinkpoint trojan via weatherbug, after finally getting rid of it naw mshta.exe is popping up and locking up the PC, I will post how to stop it when I figure it out
I agree with that its part of MS, but Malware/spyware/virus uses it as a means to re-infect your pc after you rid it by accessing the web on a SCHEDULED basis(i.e every Xmins). Thats why the antivirus/firewall programs pick it up. To stop further infection, disable your internet(to stop it from re-infecting ur pc), run your antivirus just make sure your have a clean pc(skip if clean) , goto CONTROL PANEL -- SCHEDULED TAKS , you will notice a load of tasks that get run MSHTA.exe that points to a http address that downloads malware. Delete those tasks and the problem should go away.
  Huy Phan  
its so many copy . make my PC slow !
  ali 07 saad  
The multiple instances are caused by scheduled jobs (in my case), which suspect to be installed by spyware (or kind). delete whose tasks (c:\windows\tasks) fix the problem.
constantly starting copies of itself causing cpu to lag
it seems to have multiple files running at the same time (9000+ kb each time) that slows or stops internet aps. when I close the files, computer runs much better
It causes the advertisement to pop up even though without the Internet connection every 3 minutes. It is really disturbing. luckily I managed to get rid of it by changing it's format from mshta.exe into mshta.txt
It multiplies within two hour computer use, sometimes 5-10 times. It brings RAM to a halt.
  David McConnell  
Not a Virus - Just Remove LOTS OF THEM from Scheduled Tasks in the Control Panel
  Jon Davis  
My computer AV removed it, Norton, it said that it created a file called noawmxercs.exe which then created a file called KBDGPon.dll
I have vista, and my AV killed a program it created. Now some of you are saying that it can be used to open viruses, and viruses often utilize it. I cannot find another instance of it except in the system32 folder. Lately, it has been spawning all kinds of things that my anti-virus picks up.
  Ace, in need of help!  
to get rid of it is easy! go to the start right click explore go under windows go to tasks an delete tasks related to mshta then go empty recycling bin an bingo..
  steve in mass  
its used to open hta files, in itself its not a virus, but viruses may use it to run;
After using IE sveral times I get a window stating "This is a Recommended update for your PC". This window cannot be closed. Task Manager shows the the task is "Microsoft (R) HTML Application host". If I click "end task" then the window closes. This is surely a MS IE problem. Can't understand why MS is not looking into this
Some malware or virus will make use of mshta.exe to access a certain web-site (e.g. an advertisement or a virus site) automatically in Windows without user control. One way they make these unwanted mshta.exe calls is either create a new user task, or modify an existing user task in C:\Windows\Tasks. Windows will then schedule, with these new or modified user tasks, to run the unwanted mshta.exe calls at certain time (e.g. at Windows startup, by modifying some Windows Registry keys), or periodically (e.g. every 10 mins, to make the advertisement or virus web-site popup in Windows persistently). To stop these unwanted mshta.exe calls : . Shutdown PC, remove connection to Internet, and Reboot PC . Check all suspicious new user tasks or recently modified user tasks in C:\Windows\Tasks and delete these tasks, or make them clean. . In Windows Task Scheduler, stop and delete all active or scheduled tasks making the unwanted mshta.exe calls. . In Windows Registry, find all keys (or entries) containing the unwanted mshta.exe calls and delete these keys (or entries), or make them clean. . Shutdown PC, restore connection to Internet, and Reboot PC
Whenever I start my Printer HP deskjet 1515 my Panda cloud antivirus detect mshta.exe as virus and quarantine it
if it's located in your temp folder, delete it.
  ozan arslan  
it is dangerous. it should be removed. vaio sony rescue cannot run because of mstha
Can be used to open popup boxes with any HTML code. Try it your self open Run or a CMD and write mshta javascript:alert("Hey.");
Came with a popup saying "update yahoo and chromium browser" located in local/User/WOW64
This is a program used by some applications to show popups. Also used by IE to show stuff.
Helpful to open *.hta files
  NoUseForAName   (further information)
I had a program called "Yahoo! powered search" or similar. It caused a popup to automatically update it and there was only an OK button for that dialog. There was a cancel link in that message somewhere, but I didn't click on it. I terminated the mshta process and uninstalled that so called Y! search program. Hasn't resurfaced since then.
pc matic is blocking it from running each time I reboot
I think it is inessential for Windows and dangerous. I belive it is constantly used as a RAT (Remote administration device) due to it running sneakily in the background and using lots of bandwidth.
It popped up a window saying it needed to update something, and the only way to close it was task manager.
My Antivirus detect mshta.exe as a virus and its inside "C:\Windows\SysWOW64" Im keeping it inside Virus Chest just in case.
Seems to be due to a accidental chromium installation via the text that reads but the user agreement. Otherwise I have never seen this file during Windows 10 release and for me, it appeared in the System32 folder. Uninstalled it via iObit Uninstaller and will run clean and sfc commands to see if anything is affected after uninstallation.
  Nathaniel W.  

Rating chart

Summary: Average user rating of mshta.exe: based on 77 votes with 72 user comments. 32 users think mshta.exe is essential for Windows or an installed application. 4 users think it's probably harmless. 6 users think it's neither essential nor dangerous. 15 users suspect danger. 20 users think mshta.exe is dangerous and recommend removing it. 13 users don't grade mshta.exe ("not sure about it").

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Best practices for resolving mshta issues

A clean and tidy computer is the key requirement for avoiding problems with mshta. This means running a scan for malware, cleaning your hard drive using 1cleanmgr and 2sfc /scannow, 3uninstalling programs that you no longer need, checking for Autostart programs (using 4msconfig) and enabling Windows' 5Automatic Update. Always remember to perform periodic backups, or at least to set restore points.

Should you experience an actual problem, try to recall the last thing you did, or the last thing you installed before the problem appeared for the first time. Use the 6resmon command to identify the processes that are causing your problem. Even for serious problems, rather than reinstalling Windows, you are better off repairing of your installation or, for Windows 8 and later versions, executing the 7DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth command. This allows you to repair the operating system without losing data.

To help you analyze the mshta.exe process on your computer, the following programs have proven to be helpful: ASecurity Task Manager displays all running Windows tasks, including embedded hidden processes, such as keyboard and browser monitoring or Autostart entries. A unique security risk rating indicates the likelihood of the process being potential spyware, malware or a Trojan. BMalwarebytes Anti-Malware detects and removes sleeping spyware, adware, Trojans, keyloggers, malware and trackers from your hard drive.

Other processes

mshta.exe [all]