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Why does my computer go nuts sometimes?

Question: My computer behaves erroneously frequently. It suddenly closes all IE browser windows, opens start menu and repeats this process. OS: Windows XP. In the task manager I saw “sapisvr.exe” during this process sometimes, not all the time.

It’s a really weird thing to watch – it’s almost like your computer has suddenly become possessed. But the question holds a clue: sapisvr.exe.

Chances are, though, the computer is really only doing what you’re telling it.


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Sapisvr.exe is Microsoft’s Speech Recognition engine. When enabled, it listens to what’s coming in on the microphone and attempts to interpret what it hears as words, then enters keystrokes to “type in” those words it heard.

That’s nice, in principle, but if it’s always enabled it can cause exactly the odd behavior you describe. You make a noise (just about any noise can cause it to think it’s heard a word), and keystrokes get entered. Or ambient noise is enough to cause it to try to recognize speech.

Normally this feature should be disabled, but apparently some PC manufacturers or others enable it by default.

To disable:

  • Go to Control Panel
  • Click on Regional and Language Options
  • Click on the Languages tab
  • Click on the Details button
  • Click on Speech Recognition
  • Click the Remove button

And if you’re wondering why this could be happening if you don’t have a microphone, look again. Many laptops in particular have built-in microphones, and I’m lead to believe that some other computers may as well.

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40 comments on “Why does my computer go nuts sometimes?”

  1. THANK YOU!!!!

    I thought it was a virus, but after installing two virus protection programs, strange text still appeared in all sorts of programs.
    When finally checking the processes that were running and finding SAPISVR.EXE was always running when these texts appeared, I finally found this page and now understand what was happening.
    (I actually feel a bit stupid now….)

    Never mind..
    Thanks again,

  2. Hi, looks like sapisrv.exe is not the only culprit causing havoc. Occasionally I notice the mouse move erratically and when it does, it apparently clicks, double-clicks or right-clicks whatever it hits on the path very quickly. Preferred positions are top right or bottom left — guess what that does. Could be something with the logitech optical wireless mouse, not related to interference (living in the country) or low batteries. I found some rather unconclusive description with MS knowledgebase, nothing with logitech. Does anyone have the same trouble?

  3. I too have a problem with XP Home, I have an eMachines T2085. I am using a 2 button mouse yet all of a sudden it acts like it has a scroll button on it and will move to the top or bottom of the page. I used to have the problem with closing IE and would have to shut down my system to get it to stop. Never did know if sapirsav.exe was the problem or not, I did an upgrade to XP and it stopped. The mouse though still goes nuts every once in a while. It is a wired mouse BTW.

  4. I had the same problem with my optical mouse on my main PC. The cursor would snap to the left, left mouse button would hold down so it would choose icons on the desktop, open them…just wouldn’t stop. Thought ‘virus’ :(

    I’d just built my dad a PC, a shuttle system, which was sat on top of my shuttle system. Thought…interference, seeing as though the Virus Checker showed nothing and I didn’t have the SAPISVR.EXE installed.

    After much pulling and plugging I turned off the backlight on my Packard Bell electoluminescent keyboard I was using to test his PC. I pushed the little button and everything went back to normal! I pushed it on again and the mouse on the main PC went wild again!

    Weird :D

    I’ve had the same setup for the last week but only today has it done this. Ah well…glad my mouse isn’t up the swanny :)

  5. Hi,I just wanna say THANK YOU for helping me out with that useless SapiCrapi microsoft thing. I deleted it from 2 sources because it kept on freezing IE and MSNMess. and other stuff. But it always came back, now its dissabled. I didn’t know where to go before to disable it. Thank you so much,

  6. My wife was just complaining of the same problem with her optical mouse. She had recently purchased a new mouse pad. The pad had areas of extremely dark and extremely light patches. After a careful investigation I found that when the mouse transited the dark/light areas, the cursor would jump.

    Solution, wife converted the mouse pad to a deckle!! (Something to set your hot coffee on!)

  7. Yes, it is Windows XP sp2 that is causing sapisvr.exe problems, among others. i removed sp2 and still had problems. i think i will go ahead and delte sapisvr.exe as i have no use for it. but i can see that the sapisvr.exe prefetch was modified with my removal of sp2. some kind of punishment from microsoft? the windows updates were a big mistake.

  8. iam running windows 98 second edition and it sometimes freezes on me would u know why and how i can prevent it?

  9. There are so many possible reasons that there’s no way to say “this is it” without a much closer look.

    I would start with: anti-virus scans, anti-spyware scans, and a visit to Windows Update to make sure you have latest drivers and patches.

  10. i m running win-xp pro. the problem is that whenever i start a new task “sapisvr.exe” gets initiated and the task doesn’t proceed until i manually end sapisvr using task manager.
    Also, i had this problem where words used to get typed-in automatically in dialog boxes or where ever i placed my cursor in a word document and the like. please help. thanks

  11. Hi Leo

    I am unable to keep open Task Manager. When I press Ctl/Alt/Del Task Manager opens momentarily then disappears off the screen. A small green icon appears in the right hand side of the system tray but when I hover the mouse over it, it disappears.

    I am also unable to open Norton’s Personal Firewall. I mention this because I was trying to get Task Manager going to troubleshoot the Nortons Firewall problem.

    I can open up other applications like PowerPoint, Word, IE and Firefox, etc.

    Several reboots did not fix te problem.

    I am running Windows 2000 Professional.

    Thanks in advance

    Lindsay Ewards

  12. I would just like to THANK YOU!! The computer I use is for business and when I take it out to customer appointments it just goes crazy and my battery life is sucked out. I am hoping that this solves part of the problem: )

  13. This sapisvr had been annoying me for a while, although I had identified it as the culprit I didn’t know what is was, it kept crashing mostly ie but sometimes other programs or my whole pc. Thanks for your advice!


    I’ve had sapisvr.exe running for so long, and I got scared that it was a virus and I’ve been going mad! All of a sudden random text and numbers appear even when I haven’t said anything, even when the room is silent. You are a godsend [ironic that I don’t believe in god], seriously, thankyou so very very much!

  15. hi leo,

    thanks for the answer.

    i’m a control freak — found that this .exe was using 8-9MB of memory most of the time. Now I can do with fewer task switches and better memory.


  16. This is happening to me as well. But when I go to the Languages tab and then Details – speech recognition is not listed. When I look at the processes loaded, sapisvr.exe is not listed.

    Should I be looking somewhere else to see if voice recognition is enabled?

    I’ve formatted the hard drive, reinstalled win xp, updated the bios, updated drivers and it still happens.

    I’m ready to throw this computer out the window. Any ideas?


    Win XP Pro SP2
    Dell Dimension 4500
    DSL Verizon w/ DLink Router

  17. Someone on the Dell forum suggested that the erratic behavior that I was experiencing was due to a faulty mouse. I switched out the mouse and have been problem free (and sane!) for two days.


  18. Sometimes, if we recieve a trojan horse dropper from a recent corrupt website we might visit does’nt take effect until the computer is rebooted. If such a case happens to you, go to the startup menu and turn off the corresponding program: run “msconfig”. Then goto add/remove programs and remove the corrupt program (uninstall). Then reboot the computer, and you should be good to go. I’ve zapped manyavirus this away. Some hide very well. Be vigilante, your computer relies on your planning ahead, and be kind to it by minimizing your startup menu to keep her running smooth and purrin like a kitten.

  19. Hi there

    Please chalk out a solution for me. My windows 98 pc behaves crazy sometimes. after i got broadband line installed on my system through moden(USB). the mouse pointer sometimes starts moving here and there very fast opening menus both by right click and left click uncontrolably. i have to restart my system every time.

    Please help.


  20. Your article came up on Google and I wanted to thank you for having the directions for removing that microphone thing. Mine was running every time I started up Outlook and made everything run slow. Just wanted to say THANKS again for having this posted online. :))

  21. My PC sometimes always reboot for no reason, for an example, i was using Window Media Player while checking mail, it went reboot for no reason and restarted like it was nothing serious error happen. Then there’s a time when i watch movie by using Window Media Player, it went reboot like just now,then i tried using the cyberlink software to watch again but it happened again when i was watching the movie(the pc reboot after sometime,not right after the movie played).There is another example,i opened too much IEXPLORER windows and it went reboot again.i can’t play game even some game that require low performance like yahoo’s ZUMA.Another problem is after i play some high requirement game for sometimes my pc went reboot for sure.Is this because of memory things and graphic card.I’m using Windows XP service pack 2 and i don’t have a graphic card, my RAM is a single 512MB DDR II RAM.

  22. Leo,

    Thank you. What a strange experience it is to watch one’s computer start spitting out text in whatever textbox is active.

    Leave it to Microsoft to install a friendly feature like this, and bury the disable way down inside a control applet. Come to think of it, there’s no disable button–just a remove.

    And even after Removing, according to Task Manager, sapisvr.exe is still running, soaking up 44K of RAM and another 28K of swap disk. I’ll reboot to see if the bugger dissapears.

    Another tidbit: according to TaskMan, sapisvr.exe has passed over 27 million bytes since boot, 4 days ago, and written over 19Mbytes. What can it be doing all that data?

    Thanks again.

  23. My comp first used to suddenly reboot for no reason…whether i am playing a game or i am watching a movie or working….but now, it most of the times does not even starts…there are options shown such as
    1) start in SAFE MODE.
    2) Last known configeration.
    3) Start windows normally…

    i tried all of them, but after a few amount of time, the HDD light stops blinking and the PC is hanged even before it gets started…

    Pl tell me what to do…onnly sometimes, if comp’s Mood is fine(like now), or i try a hell lot of times then and then only the PC starts… PL HELPPP!!!!!

  24. Thanks.I have the latest Vista and from day one it started giving problem similar to those discussed above.I tried all that is written above to no avail.In my case,the mouse moves in a random fashion,in Chat,email,Excel and Word resulting in lots of mistakes,making me go crazy.I have tried the latest NOD32 and no virus/worm is detected.The NOD32 company asked me to go in for windows updates ,which I have done.Still I am left with this hounded machine.PLEASE HELP

  25. When I am in Mozilla or IE all of a sudden the text in the browser window will start jumping all around. I have to shut my computer down for it to stop. When I open any document everything is also jumping around. You can hear a noise coming from the computer when this happens as well. I use a wireless mouse. If you grab the slider on the right of the window it will flicker also and return you to the top of the page automaticaly. Very frustrating
    Please let me know what I should do.

  26. every time i connect to the internet and it shuts down after a warning of a generic host process win32 service appears and when service pack 2 is installed my computer won start up at all

  27. Same problem with mouse; mine is “stalling”. I have a new CORDED mouse, and a large foam rubber pad that I use as a mouse pad… never had problems until I installed Adobe Flash 10… This is the buggiest program out there. I think that might be causing the problem. Checked for viruses and spyware; don’t have any of that either. Suggestions please?
    Thanks :)

  28. When i click in on a page for info, this page will automatically go off, and i have to start from the beginning to get that page again. Then it will go off again in a matter of a few minutes. What is the problem??

  29. Control panel controls don’t look like that. Taped paper over touchpad, still have problem. As far as I can tell, not running speech recognition, but??? Have Dell Inspirion 1525 with Microsoft wireless mouse. Haven’t seen any settings anywhere to allow me to disable either touchpad or speech recognition. This is my parents’ computer with Vista. I am 43 with quite a lot of experience with computers. Don’t like Vista AT ALL. Mouse jumps everywhere, right button window pops up, clipboard text gets pasted without my telling it to, text gets highlighted and deleted automatically while I’m typing, so have to retype things a LOT. This is FRUSTRATING. Parents don’t seem to have as much problem, but I type much more and do more on a computer. PLEASE HELP! I can’t use a compute with this problem!

  30. OKAY! PROBLEM SOLVED! I went to the Dell website and found a newer driver for the touchpad. It was dated like 2008 or 2009, but was still newer than the driver that came with this laptop. I installed it (of course after creating a restore point) and afterward in the Control Panel/Mouse, I noticed there was a new tab which said DELL TOUCHPAD. I was finally able to disable the blasted touchpad and go to only using the wireless Microsoft mouse. Hope this helps!

  31. I am no expert. I am simply sharing my personal experience with nutty pc’s and crazy mice. Much of this is a repeat of what I read in the previous article, with a few twists. My pc was sick with “crazy mouse” syndrome. At first I thought it was because I was using a corded mouse. So I switched to the mouse built into the pc (I’m driving a Dell Inspiron 2009). Still, the mouse was running around my screen. Next, I went in to CONTROL PANEL searched on MOUSE and turned down the sensitivity. Then I searched on CONTROL PANEL for voice recognition. The setting was up high as far as sensitivity goes, so I turned it down as far as it would go. Clicked on Apply and it seems to have made a difference. Another thing to check is to see if “caret browsing” is on or off. I found that by hitting “F7”,( it toggles on and off) can bring an errant mouse under control. Caret browsing is great editing tool for cutting and pasting different parts of an article, but caret browsing is a whole other subject unto it’s own. Sometimes, if my mouse is acting up, turning on caret browsing seems to bring it under control. It will periodically highlight whole paragraphs of text, but don’t yell at F7, caret browsing is only doing it’s job. Simply move the mouse to a neutral zone and click to un-highlight. I hope this information combined with the above article will give someone peace of mind and a more enjoyable computing experience.


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