While we are gradually moving into the fully 64-bit PC world, not everyone is currently using 64-bit Windows. When it comes to installing some software, especially drivers, it’s important to know whether your Windows is 32-bit or 64-bit.
However, determining whether you are using 32-bit or 64-bit Windows is not difficult, and there are several ways to do this. In this article, we’ll go over four of the easiest and easiest ways to determine which version of Windows is running on your computer.
I have chosen the easiest and most straightforward way to determine if you are using 32-bit or 64-bit Windows in the Windows system information.
To find this, press Windows Key + X, then click System. A new window “About” will appear, which first shows the protection status of your computer.
Halfway down this page you will find the heading “Product Specifications”.
Here, the information listed as your system type clearly indicates which version of Windows you have installed.
Another easy way to figure out your processor architecture and whether you are using 32-bit or 64-bit Windows is to use the command line.
Type cmd into the Windows Start menu search bar. The best match should be the command line. Instead of opening it as usual, right-click on the search result and select “Run as administrator”.
When the command line terminal opens, enter the set pro command. After pressing the Enter key, the prompt will display a list of information about your computer’s processor and operating system.
There are three ways to determine which version of Windows you have:
- Program files (x86)
The processor-specific flags should indicate whether your processor is 32-bit or 64-bit.
If you haven’t changed your PC’s hardware, the presence of the ProgramFiles (x86) flag should indicate which version of Windows you have installed. This will only appear if you are using 64-bit Windows.
This simple trick is a continuation of the command line method. Again, if your machine has never changed hardware since installing Windows, having multiple Program Files folders tells you everything you need to know.
First navigate to the C: drive in Windows Explorer.
If you are using 32-bit Windows, you should only see the Program Files folder (and all programs inside it will be 32-bit).
However, for 64-bit versions of Windows, the Program Files folder will contain 64-bit applications, and the Program Files (x86) folder will contain all 32-bit applications.
64-bit versions of Windows are backward compatible with 32-bit applications, but 32-bit versions of Windows cannot run 64-bit applications. This is why the folders are so structured.
If you’d like to learn more, check out the Help Desk Geek article which explains why 64-bit Windows needs two Program Files folders
While this method requires a little more effort than the others, it also provides information specific to the applications you are currently using.
- First, press Windows Key + X, then click Task Manager. Another common shortcut is to press the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys.
- When the Task Manager window opens, the first thing you need to do is make sure you see complete information. If it says Fewer Details in the lower left corner, then you are. If More Information is displayed, click the arrow icon to the left of the text to expand the window.
- Now switch to the Details tab. By default, the information we need is not displayed here. To display it, right-click any column header (Name, PID, etc.) and click Select Columns.
- In this window, select the check box next to the platform and click OK.
There will now be a Platform column, which will display the software architecture of each of your running processes.
Based on this, it should be easy to determine which version of Windows you are using: 32-bit will not display 64-bit applications, while 64-bit versions of Windows will be obvious if even one application is 64-bit.
As the number of recently released 32-bit systems continues to plummet, confusion between 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows will become less of an issue. But until then, it’s better to be safe than sorry!