It can be very annoying when Windows Explorer suddenly stops responding. Waiting for it to recover is definitely not entertaining and holding the power button to force shutdown your PC is not a recommended option because it could induce data loss.

When a program hangs, we just kill it and restart it, so why not do the same with Windows explorer? You can just restart Explorer and it should working fine again.

In this Tutorial, we are going to show you different methods to restart Windows Explorer, both Automatic and Manual.

Method #1: Kill and Restart Windows Explorer from Task Manager (Manual)

This is the most common way to restart Windows Explorer, but it might not be the most comfortable one. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc keys on your keyboard, this will start Windows Task manager. This combination is faster than going through Ctrl+Alt+Del.

In Task Manager, move to the “Processes” tab and find and click on the “explorer.exe” process name to select it. Once selected, click on “End Process” located at the bottom right corner of the window. From the prompt, click on “End Process” again and Windows explorer will be killed.

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Restart Windows Explorer

Now, to start Windows explorer again, you will have to use Task manager too. Task manager should be already open (Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc again if you can’t see it), just click on “File” at the top of the window. From the menu, click on “New Task (Run)” and type “explorer” in the next window. Now, click on “OK” and Windows Explorer will restart.

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Note: In this method, Windows explorer’s process is terminated, then restarted. Normally, terminating Windows Explorer doesn’t affect other apps, but it’s best to save data and close all apps before doing this, just to be safe.

Method #2: Exit Windows Explorer from the Start Menu (Manual)

This is an easier and safer method than the above method. In this method, the Windows explorer exits properly while saving your settings, instead of just killing it on the spot.

All you need to do is open start menu and press and hold Ctrl+Shift keys. While the keys are held, right click on any blank area (where there are no options to process) and you will see the option of “Exit Explorer”. Click on it and Windows Explorer will exit after saving all the settings.

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If windows explorer doesn’t restart automatically, you will have to restart Windows Explorer using the process mentioned in the method #1.

Method #3: Use a Shortcut to Restart Windows Explorer (Automatic)

If you constantly need to restart explorer, then it is better to make the process automatic for convenience. Using a batch file, we will go through same process in “Method #1”, but you will only have to open a file to execute the process.

To get started, open Note Pad and copy/paste the below mentioned script in it:

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

Make sure you copy/paste exactly, including the line spacing and separate all three lines.

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Now, click on “File” and from the menu click on “Save”. You need to name the file as “Restart Explorer.bat”, make sure you remove “.txt” and add “.bat” properly. Save the file anywhere you like, but make sure the location is easier to access when you need to restart Windows explorer

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All you need to do now is, double-click on the newly created file and Windows explorer will exit and restart again automatically.

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Method #4: Add Restart Explorer Shortcut to Context Menu

If you are looking for a faster and more reliable way to automatically restart Windows explorer, then you can do it right from the context menu (right-click menu) as well. This is a better option as compared to creating a shortcut, you can access context menu anywhere while using Windows explorer, but a shortcut is limited to a specified location.

Note: This method involves tweaking Windows Registry, and any mistake can affect Windows functions. So, it is recommended that you first create a backup of Windows Registry and then continue. Furthermore, this method involves use of the Batch file “Shortcut” that we created in the method #3. This means, you first need to follow method #3 and then continue to this method.

To open Windows Registry, press Windows+R keys to open “Run…” and in there, type “regedit” and hit “OK”.

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In the Registry, you need to navigate to this area by double clicking on each option:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT — > Directory –> Background

Under “Background” you will see an option of “Shell”. Right-click on it and hover your mouse cursor over “New”. From the side menu, click on “Key” and rename this key as “Restart Explorer” and hit enter.

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Now, right click on the new “Restart Explorer” option and hover your mouse cursor over “New” to see the side menu and select “Key” from it. Name this key as “Command” and hit enter.

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Go to the batch file “Shortcut” that we created in the Method #3 and hold Shift key and right click on it. From the context menu, click on “Copy as Path” to copy the path of the “Shortcut”.

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Now, come back to Registry editor again and click on “Command” (the new key we created earlier) to select it. Once selected, you will see an option of “Default” in the Right panel. Right click on “Default” and from the context menu, click on “Modify”.

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A tiny window will open up, here paste the “shortcut” path you just copied by pressing Ctrl+V keys and click on “OK”.

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Now, you will see the option of “Restart Explorer” in the context menu whenever you will right click on a blank area in Windows. Just click on it to restart Windows Explorer.

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Note: if at any time in the future, you change the location of the Batch file “Restart Explorer Shortcut”, you will have to copy the new path again and paste it in the “Default” section of the “Command” option.  Otherwise, the option in Context menu will stop working.

If you know any other interesting way to restart explorer or have any questions regarding any process, let us know in the comments below.

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