Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
Ben Nadel at the jQuery Conference 2010 (Boston, MA) with: Ralph Holzmann
Ben Nadel at the jQuery Conference 2010 (Boston, MA) with: Ralph Holzmann

Restarting Windows Explorer Without Restarting Your Computer

By Ben Nadel on
Tags: Work

I trying to access something in Windows Explorer today when it froze up. The computer didn't freeze, just Windows Explorer. So, naturally, I force quit it. Unfortunately, when you force quit Windows Explorer, it basically kills the entire windows interface. No task bar. No quick launch. No Start button. The Windows key becomes useless. It's like you're running Windows without windows.

I was about to restart the computer when my highly intelligent co-worker, Martin Olson, told me that you can restart your Windows Explorer. If you go into the task manager (CTRL+ALT+DELETE > Task Manager), go to the File menu. From there, select Run New and when prompted, enter "explorer". Suddenly, there was my Windows interface up and running again.

Flippin' sweet!

Reader Comments

I love the internet for these problems. I had this exact problem, googled a few words, came across your web log, tried the suggestion and presto things worked again.

OMG I am so glad I finally decided to google computer has been force quitting explorer on its own for DAYS now and now I know what to do instead of restarting completely! THANK YOU!

Thanks for this, I have been having enormous problems with my explorer interface, like you said, without it is windows without the windows!

Sometimes it just takes the easy fixes...I have been looking and thinking about various complicated fixes!! Once again thanks!

I have learn a lot from here You can help me for working in VB. because i liked the VB application very well ,mainly while creating the text box we will face lot of challenges.

it is doesnt work on windows7..only opens up either config forlder ("."), and I have no idea what I am looking for in there, cant find a file named explore.exe..either folder with a libraries ("explorer.exe", explorer, explorer.exe) feeling lost..I cant restart a comp right now, and for the future, is it possible to restart a windows explorer without restarting the comp..?? can anyone help? will appreciate any advice, I am only a user, and dont know much about programming, or task commands stuff..

A variation on this is as follows (and this works in Win7, too):
1. Use Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open Windows Task Manager.
2. Make sure the tab labeled "Applications" is selected.
3. Click the button labeled "New Task...". The "Create New Task" dialog should appear.
4. Type "explorer" in the box labeled "Open".
5. Click "OK".
This should start the Explorer process. It may also open a Windows Explorer window which you can then close.