Windows: Restart Explorer

Windows Explorer or explorer.exe is a process in Windows that is responsible for starting and displaying the most of the graphical user interfaces (GUI), including the Desktop, Taskbar, “Start” menu and File Explorer.

If any of the components the Windows Explorer is responsible of are freezing, hanging and not responding, before restarting the whole computer you can try to restart the explorer.exe process only.

In this note i will show how to fix problems with the Windows Explorer by restarting the explorer.exe from the Windows Task Manager or from the command prompt (CMD).

Restart Windows Explorer

Restart Windows Explorer using Task Manager

To restart the Windows Explorer from the Task Manager:

  1. Press the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keyboard shortcut to open the Task Manager
  2. Click on the “More details”, if it has opened in a compact mode
  3. In the “Processes” tab search for the “Windows Explorer” process
  4. Right click on the “Windows Explorer” and click on “Restart”

Disappearing “Start” Menu & Taskbar: While restarting the Explorer, the “Start” menu or the Taskbar may temporarily disappear until it has finished restarting.

Restart Windows Explorer using CMD

To start the Windows command prompt (CMD), press the ⊞ Win + R to launch the “Run” dialog and execute the cmd.

To restart the Explorer from the CMD, firstly you should execute the following command to terminate the explorer.exe process:

C:\> taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
- sample output -
SUCCESS: The process "explorer.exe" with PID 6084 has been terminated.

The taskkill command parameters used to force the termination of the process:

Option Description
/f Terminate the specified process forcefully.
/im The image name of the process to be terminated.

Once the Windows Explorer has stopped, start it again with this command:

C:\> start explorer.exe
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