Personalization Add Restart Explorer Context Menu in Windows 11


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File_Explorer_banner.png

This tutorial will show you how to add "Restart Explorer" to the desktop context menu of all users in Windows 11.

The explorer.exe process is the user shell for Windows, and is used by such items as the desktop, File Explorer, Start menu, notification area, and taskbar. Restarting the explorer.exe process is to stop and start it to effectively refresh explorer.exe. When the explorer.exe process has been stopped (aka: "end task"), you will see a blank black desktop with your mouse pointer showing until explorer.exe has been started again.

If you are having issues with the explorer.exe process (ex: hang), restarting the explorer.exe process may sort it without having to restart the computer.

If you are applying a registry tweak, sometimes you can just restart the explorer.exe process to apply instead of having to restart the computer or sign out and sign in.


While you must be signed in as an administrator to add or remove the context menu, all users will be able to use it.

Restart Explorer context menu usage:

When you right click or press and hold on the desktop and click/tap on Restart Explorer in the context menu, you can then select to click/tap on Restart Explorer Now or Restart Explorer with Pause.

Restart Explorer Now will instantly restart the explorer.exe process now.

Restart Explorer with Pause will open a command prompt window indicating that it has stopped the explorer.exe process, and will wait on you to press any key before restarting the explorer.exe process again. This way you can use the context menu to stop explorer, do what you need to do while it's stopped, click/tap on the command prompt window to make it the active window again, and press any key to start explorer.

Restart_Explorer_with_Pause.png



Contents

  • Option One: Add "Restart Explorer" to Desktop Context Menu
  • Option Two: Add Expandable "Restart Explorer" to Desktop Context Menu
  • Option Three: Remove "Restart Explorer" from Desktop Context Menu


EXAMPLE: "Restart Explorer" desktop context menu

You will need to click/tap on Show more options first by default, then click/tap on Restart Explorer.


Show_more_options.png
Restart_Explorer_context_menu.png
Restart_Explorer_expandable_context_menu.png





Option One

Add "Restart Explorer" to Desktop Context Menu


1 Click/tap on the Download button below to download the file below, and save it to your desktop.

Add_Restart_Explorer_to_desktop_context_menu.reg


(Contents of REG file for reference)
Code:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\Restart Explorer]

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\Restart Explorer]
"icon"="explorer.exe"
"Position"="Bottom"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\Restart Explorer\command]
@="cmd.exe /c taskkill /f /im explorer.exe  & start explorer.exe"

2 Save the .reg file to your desktop.

3 Double click/tap on the downloaded .reg file to merge it.

4 When prompted, click/tap on Run, Yes (UAC), Yes, and OK to approve the merge.

5 You can now delete the downloaded .reg file if you like.




Option Two

Add Expandable "Restart Explorer" to Desktop Context Menu


1 Click/tap on the Download button below to download the file below, and save it to your desktop.

Add_expandable_Restart_Explorer_to_desktop_context_menu.reg


(Contents of REG file for reference)
Code:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\Restart Explorer]

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\Restart Explorer]
"icon"="explorer.exe"
"Position"="Bottom"
"SubCommands"=""

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\Restart Explorer\shell\01menu]
"MUIVerb"="Restart Explorer Now"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\Restart Explorer\shell\01menu\command]
@="cmd.exe /c taskkill /f /im explorer.exe  & start explorer.exe"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\Restart Explorer\shell\02menu]
"MUIVerb"="Restart Explorer with Pause"
"CommandFlags"=dword:00000020

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\Restart Explorer\shell\02menu\command]
@="cmd.exe /c @echo off & echo. & echo Stopping explorer.exe process . . . & echo. & taskkill /f /im explorer.exe & echo. & echo. & echo Waiting to start explorer.exe process when you are ready . . . & pause && start explorer.exe && exit"

2 Save the .reg file to your desktop.

3 Double click/tap on the downloaded .reg file to merge it.

4 When prompted, click/tap on Run, Yes (UAC), Yes, and OK to approve the merge.

5 You can now delete the downloaded .reg file if you like.




Option Three

Remove "Restart Explorer" from Desktop Context Menu


This is the default setting.


1 Click/tap on the Download button below to download the file below, and save it to your desktop.

Remove_Restart_Explorer_from_desktop_context_menu.reg


(Contents of REG file for reference)
Code:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\Restart Explorer]

2 Save the .reg file to your desktop.

3 Double click/tap on the downloaded .reg file to merge it.

4 When prompted, click/tap on Run, Yes (UAC), Yes, and OK to approve the merge.

5 You can now delete the downloaded .reg file if you like.


That's it,
Shawn Brink


 

Attachments

  • File_Explorer.png
    File_Explorer.png
    5.6 KB · Views: 239
  • Remove_Restart_Explorer_from_desktop_context_menu.reg
    520 bytes · Views: 440
  • Add_Restart_Explorer_to_desktop_context_menu.reg
    1,012 bytes · Views: 43
  • Add_expandable_Restart_Explorer_to_desktop_context_menu.reg
    2.2 KB · Views: 39
Last edited:
Hi Shawn,

You can also add tskill.exe to system32 and use this cmd

Code:
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\RestartExplorer]

"MUIVerb"="Restart Explorer"

"Icon"="shell32.dll,238"


[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\RestartExplorer\Command]

@="mshta vbscript:createobject(\"shell.application\").shellexecute(\"tskill.exe\",\"explorer\",\"\",\"open\",0)(close)"
 

Attachments

  • tskill.zip
    12.2 KB · Views: 75

My Computer

System One

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    Windows 11 Pro
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    Intel® Core™ i9-12900K Desktop Processor 16 (8P+8E)
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@Brink

Good morning, sir!
I've been using this context menu control ever since you first published this .reg file, and I find it extremely valuable. Now, I have a question that occurred to me the last time (the thousandth, at least) I used Restart Explorer > Restart Explorer Now. I have never had a reason to use the option Restart Explorer with Pause, and I was wondering whether the .reg file could be edited to remove that option, and just make clicking Restart Explorer work by itself, without the flyout and the extra click. Possible?

Dan
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    11 Pro 23H2 22631.3447
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo ThinkCentre M920S SFF
    CPU
    i7-9700 @ 3.00GHz
    Motherboard
    Lenovo 3132
    Memory
    32GBDDR4 @ 2666MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel HD 630 Graphics onboard
    Sound Card
    Realtek HD Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    LG E2442
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    1 x Samsung 970 EVO PLUS 500GB NVMe SSD, 1 x WD_BLACK SN770
    250GB NVMe SSD (OS and programs), 1 x WD_BLACK SN770
    500GB NVMe SSD (Data)
    Case
    Lenovo SFF
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    Cherry Stream TKL JK-8600US-2 Wired
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    LogiTech M510 wireless
    Internet Speed
    Fast (for fixed wireless!)
    Browser
    Chrome, sometimes Firefox
    Antivirus
    Malwarebytes Premium & Defender (working together beautifully!)
  • Operating System
    11 Pro 23H2 22631.3447
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo ThinkCentre M920S SFF
    CPU
    i5-8400 @ 2.80GHz
    Motherboard
    Lenovo 3132
    Memory
    32GB DDR4 @ 2600MHz
    Graphics card(s)
    Intel HD 630 Graphics onboard
    Sound Card
    Realtek High Definition Audio onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    LG FULL HD (1920x1080@59Hz)
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080
    Hard Drives
    1 x Samsung 970 EVO PLUS NVMe; 1 x Samsung 980 NVMe SSD
    Case
    Lenovo Think Centre SFF
    Mouse
    LogiTech M510 wireless
    Keyboard
    Cherry Stream TKL JK-8600US-2 Wired
    Internet Speed
    Fast (for fixed wireless!)
    Browser
    Chrome
    Antivirus
    Malwarebytes Premium and MS Defender, beautiful together
@Brink

Good morning, sir!
I've been using this context menu control ever since you first published this .reg file, and I find it extremely valuable. Now, I have a question that occurred to me the last time (the thousandth, at least) I used Restart Explorer > Restart Explorer Now. I have never had a reason to use the option Restart Explorer with Pause, and I was wondering whether the .reg file could be edited to remove that option, and just make clicking Restart Explorer work by itself, without the flyout and the extra click. Possible?

Dan

Hello Dan, :alien:

I've updated the tutorial to add the new option one for this for you. You would just need to merge the REG file in option one to update the context menu.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro for Workstations
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom self build
    CPU
    Intel i7-8700K 5 GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
    Memory
    64 GB (4x16GB) G.SKILL TridentZ RGB DDR4 3600 MHz (F4-3600C18D-32GTZR)
    Graphics Card(s)
    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING (11GB GDDR5X)
    Sound Card
    Integrated Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    2 x Samsung Odyssey G75 27"
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung 990 PRO M.2,
    4TB Samsung 990 PRO M.2,
    8TB WD MyCloudEX2Ultra NAS
    PSU
    Seasonic Prime Titanium 850W
    Case
    Thermaltake Core P3 wall mounted
    Cooling
    Corsair Hydro H115i
    Keyboard
    Logitech wireless K800
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    1 Gbps Download and 35 Mbps Upload
    Browser
    Google Chrome
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender and Malwarebytes Premium
    Other Info
    Logitech Z625 speaker system,
    Logitech BRIO 4K Pro webcam,
    HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Galaxy S23 Plus phone
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Spectre x360 2in1 14-eu0098nr (2024)
    CPU
    Intel Core Ultra 7 155H 4.8 GHz
    Memory
    16 GB LPDDR5x-7467 MHz
    Graphics card(s)
    Integrated Intel Arc
    Sound Card
    Poly Studio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    14" 2.8K OLED multitouch
    Screen Resolution
    2880 x 1800
    Hard Drives
    2 TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
    Internet Speed
    Intel Wi-Fi 7 BE200 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5.4
    Browser
    Chrome and Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender and Malwarebytes Premium
Thank you very much, Shawn. Worked perfectly (of course).
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    11 Pro 23H2 22631.3447
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo ThinkCentre M920S SFF
    CPU
    i7-9700 @ 3.00GHz
    Motherboard
    Lenovo 3132
    Memory
    32GBDDR4 @ 2666MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel HD 630 Graphics onboard
    Sound Card
    Realtek HD Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    LG E2442
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    1 x Samsung 970 EVO PLUS 500GB NVMe SSD, 1 x WD_BLACK SN770
    250GB NVMe SSD (OS and programs), 1 x WD_BLACK SN770
    500GB NVMe SSD (Data)
    Case
    Lenovo SFF
    Keyboard
    Cherry Stream TKL JK-8600US-2 Wired
    Mouse
    LogiTech M510 wireless
    Internet Speed
    Fast (for fixed wireless!)
    Browser
    Chrome, sometimes Firefox
    Antivirus
    Malwarebytes Premium & Defender (working together beautifully!)
  • Operating System
    11 Pro 23H2 22631.3447
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo ThinkCentre M920S SFF
    CPU
    i5-8400 @ 2.80GHz
    Motherboard
    Lenovo 3132
    Memory
    32GB DDR4 @ 2600MHz
    Graphics card(s)
    Intel HD 630 Graphics onboard
    Sound Card
    Realtek High Definition Audio onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    LG FULL HD (1920x1080@59Hz)
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080
    Hard Drives
    1 x Samsung 970 EVO PLUS NVMe; 1 x Samsung 980 NVMe SSD
    Case
    Lenovo Think Centre SFF
    Mouse
    LogiTech M510 wireless
    Keyboard
    Cherry Stream TKL JK-8600US-2 Wired
    Internet Speed
    Fast (for fixed wireless!)
    Browser
    Chrome
    Antivirus
    Malwarebytes Premium and MS Defender, beautiful together

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro for Workstations
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom self build
    CPU
    Intel i7-8700K 5 GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
    Memory
    64 GB (4x16GB) G.SKILL TridentZ RGB DDR4 3600 MHz (F4-3600C18D-32GTZR)
    Graphics Card(s)
    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING (11GB GDDR5X)
    Sound Card
    Integrated Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    2 x Samsung Odyssey G75 27"
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung 990 PRO M.2,
    4TB Samsung 990 PRO M.2,
    8TB WD MyCloudEX2Ultra NAS
    PSU
    Seasonic Prime Titanium 850W
    Case
    Thermaltake Core P3 wall mounted
    Cooling
    Corsair Hydro H115i
    Keyboard
    Logitech wireless K800
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    1 Gbps Download and 35 Mbps Upload
    Browser
    Google Chrome
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender and Malwarebytes Premium
    Other Info
    Logitech Z625 speaker system,
    Logitech BRIO 4K Pro webcam,
    HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Galaxy S23 Plus phone
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Spectre x360 2in1 14-eu0098nr (2024)
    CPU
    Intel Core Ultra 7 155H 4.8 GHz
    Memory
    16 GB LPDDR5x-7467 MHz
    Graphics card(s)
    Integrated Intel Arc
    Sound Card
    Poly Studio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    14" 2.8K OLED multitouch
    Screen Resolution
    2880 x 1800
    Hard Drives
    2 TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
    Internet Speed
    Intel Wi-Fi 7 BE200 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5.4
    Browser
    Chrome and Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender and Malwarebytes Premium
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