How To Restart Explorer.exe

Posted by Arch on June 26, 2019
how to restart explorer.exe

Windows Explorer has stopped working. Should you restart the program, close the program, or wait for the program to respond?

If the hair on the back of your neck just stood up, you wouldn’t be the only one. This annoying message is a widespread plague and definitely not fun, and you might find that waiting for Explorer to respond is usually in vain. Terminating the program by selecting “Close the program” is fine, but it doesn’t always work perfectly.

This may cause your PC to freeze, which will have you holding down the power button, which may lead to data loss. Depending on what you were doing at the moment, restarting your PC may range from acceptable and all the way to ‘oh no, what did I do?’

Don’t sweat! Here’s how to restart your Windows Explorer as safely as possible.

For Windows 10

Here are the two best ways to restart Windows Explorer if you’re a Windows 10 user.

1. Go to Task Manager

Windows Task Manager is perhaps one of the coolest tools in Windows. It allows you to access a list of active apps, processes, and services, plus it displays the overall performance of your PC at any given moment. Accessing Task Manager is famously done through simultaneously hitting the Ctrl+Alt+Del combo, but in Windows 10, the Ctrl+Shift+Esc combo is significantly quicker.

Once Task Manager opens, assuming you’re using Windows 10, you’ll see a list of Apps and Background processes. Find Windows Explorer in the Apps List and select Restart, as shown in the photo below.

task manager

2. Using Command Prompt

Go to Start, or press the windows button on your keyboard. As soon as Start Menu shows up, type in “Command Prompt”, right-click on the app in the search results and select “Run as Administrator”. To put a stop to explorer.exe, type in the following:

taskkill /f /im explorer.exe

Make sure that you type in the exact command.

For Older Windows Versions

The process isn’t quite the same with older versions of Windows. However, Windows 8.1 and below come with a variety of methods for restarting the Explorer.


1. Exit from the Start Menu

This is perhaps the safest method to restart Windows Explorer because this allows your OS to properly save your settings and exit Explorer. Open Start Menu, press and hold Ctrl+Shift, and right-click on the blank area of Start Menu (somewhere above the “Shut down” button). In the menu that pops up, click Exit Explorer and Windows will do so, but before that, it’ll save all your settings first. Use the restart method below if Explorer fails to restart automatically.

2. Using Task Manager

Make sure that you’ve saved all your data before doing this. In older Windows versions, Task Manager is accessed using the exact same set of keys, and it all works about the same. Well, almost the same since the older versions don’t offer the simple Restart command. Once you’ve opened Task Manager, select the Processes tab and find explorer.exe on the list. Click End Process. Once the new window opens, click End Process to confirm.

While this process does kill explorer.exe, you’ll have to restart it manually. Go to Task Manager again, click File, New Task (Run…), type in “explorer”, and click OK.

3. Use a Shortcut

If you need to restart Explorer frequently, you can make the whole process automatic. First, open Notepad and paste the following in it:

taskkill /f /IM explorer.exe
start explorer.exe

Click on File in Notepad, then click Save and name the file “Restart Explorer.bat”. Pay attention to the extension, as you’ll want to make sure that the file extension isn’t .txt but .bat. Save this file on your Desktop. Anytime you need to restart Windows Explorer, you can just run this file and Explorer will exit and restart automatically.

4. Restart Explorer from Context Menu

Want to do something really cool? Here’s how to add a “Restart Explorer” function to the right-click menu. That’s right, go through these steps and you’ll be able to right-click anywhere on the desktop and restart Explorer from there. Due to the fact that this method will make changes to your Windows Registry, it is recommended that you create a backup of Windows Registry before moving on.

Anyway, here’s how to do it:

  1. Press Windows+R keys to open the Run app. Type “regedit” and hit enter or click OK.
  2. Navigate to this area: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT — > Directory –> Background
  3. Under “Background”, right-click on the option of “Shell”, hover over “New” and click “Key”
  4. Rename this key “Restart Explorer” and hit enter.
  5. Now, right-click on the Restart Explorer option that you just created, hover over “New”, click “Key”, name this key as “Command”, and hit enter.
  6. Find the .bat file created in method 3. Holding down the Shift key, right click on the file and click “Copy as Path”. This will copy the path to the shortcut.
  7. Go back to Registry Editor and click on the Command key created in step v. Locate the “(Default)” option in the panel to the right.
  8. Right-click on it and select Modify.
  9. In the window that pops up, paste the path to the shortcut that you copied in step vi.
  10. Right-click on Desktop and you should have the “Restart Explorer” option in the menu.

You’ve just coded! Pretty cool, huh?

Final Thoughts on Restarting Explorer

At least one of these methods will work perfectly for you, but you should carefully consider how frequently the need arises. If you need to restart your Explorer frequently, you might be better off reinstalling Windows.

How often do you have to restart Windows Explorer? Did you find this guide helpful? Do you know of another way to restart Windows Explorer? Feel free to comment below!

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