New Version of ExplorerPatcher


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Since Win+X key doesn't work without downloading symbol files, has anyone managed to preload the symbols so that Win+X will work out of the box without having to have a network connection?

I tried it with the following files and doing a reset, but twinui.pcshell.pdb keeps getting deleted when explorer restarts.
Code:
StartDocked.pdb                                17821696 2022-11-15 19:37
StartUI .pdb                                 35672064 2022-11-15 19:37
twinui.pcshell.pdb                              26677248 2022-11-15 19:37

It would be nice if i.e. ep_setup_22621_608_xx_x.exe would include the symbols for that build without requiring a separate download and a network connection. @valinet Would this be a reasonable request?
 

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valinet

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Since Win+X key doesn't work without downloading symbol files, has anyone managed to preload the symbols so that Win+X will work out of the box without having to have a network connection?

I tried it with the following files and doing a reset, but twinui.pcshell.pdb keeps getting deleted when explorer restarts.
Code:
StartDocked.pdb                                17821696 2022-11-15 19:37
StartUI .pdb                                 35672064 2022-11-15 19:37
twinui.pcshell.pdb                              26677248 2022-11-15 19:37

It would be nice if i.e. ep_setup_22621_608_xx_x.exe would include the symbols for that build without requiring a separate download and a network connection. @valinet Would this be a reasonable request?
At some point in the past, I indeed used to hardcode the symbol information in the executable. It’s a very repetitive task that had to be done very often, that anyone can do but I always had to do it. I got fed up with it, so the compromise was for me to let the code that I since the beginning wrote to grab the data from the symbol file do the same work as I do manually, but having a machine do it. So it does it automatically for users as well. That’s one of the reasons machines were built for, to do things we humans don’t enjoy doing. It works 99% of the times faster and equally well as I’d do it. The 1% is the one time when Microsoft did not publish the symbols in time for a public CU, so I had to open it symbol-less and compare patterns with the previous version and identify the required offsets on a symbol-less disassembly. A joy, indeed.

I don’t know, don’t get me wrong, but having to do that hardcoding sucks every 2 weeks. I see 3 other solutions, but you ask for the one that mentally damages me and I think any individual in the long term the most (hardcoding the symbols). Yeah, rather unreasonable if you ask me, honestly. It may not be what you want to hear, but I say it nevertheless. So, the other 3:
1. Although I sincerely don’t recommend it, as I have repeated multiple times, there’s always this possibility of forking the code and hardcoding the symbol info yourself. There is ready made code already that can be used. You can then grab that binary and deploy it on your networkless machines. Instead, way easier, copy the registry entries containing the symbol data to your other machines. EP downloads the symbol file, extracts info from it and saves it into the registry.
2. Port over functionality relying on symbol data, like Win-X. The proper solution, so to say. StartAllBack reimplemented the Win-X menu for example in their own code. It’s doable, it just takes time and I never got to it considering the code for Win-X is still in twinui.pcshell.dll. This strategy doesn’t work for everything (some symbols unlock neat functionality, like going to All Apps automatically when opening Windows 11 Start and achieving something similar without symbols is much more difficult), but it would work here. Ideally, I’d keep using symbols only for very high valuable features that can’t be achieved by any other means.
3. An alternative to reimplementing Win-X is to have EP download an older version of twinui.pcshell.dll, a known version we hardcode the offsets for, and use that to generate the Win-X menu with. Idk, it’s clunky, but it should equally work, some older Microsoft DLLs are downloaded anyway to provide certain features.
4. Rely on the built-in symbol downloader, parser and extractor from ExplorerPatcher that just needs Microsoft to have published the symbols and for the computer to be connected to the Internet. Of course, this could be extended to allow grabbing from local symbols/network mirror, but it’s too cumbersome and too much work for too big of a niche case, if you ask me

Ofc, I’d prefer to have option 2, to once and for all end this saga, but until I get to that, I get by with 4 just fine. I feel like missing symbols are the reason many times people experience some kind of a hiccup, but this glitchy behavior has been mentioned again and again multiple times, wiki entries are written about it, yet it still causes so much debate and frustration on both sides, unfortunately.

Also, seeing how symbols are somehow painful for a lot of people, I have refrained from basing more functionality on them, even though this severely limits the scope and possibility for patches and make them needlessly more complex or not portable sometimes. Even recently I did not merge a PR for a new feature (eliminate the line under taskbar buttons) because it added further dependency on symbol data.

Too much frustration coming from something born out of a pure desire to learn more and maybe help others during the process as well. Not only this, but after all this time, there are too many frustrating things that accumulated… sorry.
 

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WAI

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I've stopped using this bc it's just buggy and tends to freeze explorer or freaks out by taking away the "Close, Max/minimize" sections
 

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At some point in the past, I indeed used to hardcode the symbol information in the executable. It’s a very repetitive task that had to be done very often, that anyone can do but I always had to do it. I got fed up with it, so the compromise was for me to let the code that I since the beginning wrote to grab the data from the symbol file do the same work as I do manually, but having a machine do it. So it does it automatically for users as well. That’s one of the reasons machines were built for, to do things we humans don’t enjoy doing. It works 99% of the times faster and equally well as I’d do it. The 1% is the one time when Microsoft did not publish the symbols in time for a public CU, so I had to open it symbol-less and compare patterns with the previous version and identify the required offsets on a symbol-less disassembly. A joy, indeed.

I don’t know, don’t get me wrong, but having to do that hardcoding sucks every 2 weeks. I see 3 other solutions, but you ask for the one that mentally damages me and I think any individual in the long term the most (hardcoding the symbols). Yeah, rather unreasonable if you ask me, honestly. It may not be what you want to hear, but I say it nevertheless. So, the other 3:
1. Although I sincerely don’t recommend it, as I have repeated multiple times, there’s always this possibility of forking the code and hardcoding the symbol info yourself. There is ready made code already that can be used. You can then grab that binary and deploy it on your networkless machines. Instead, way easier, copy the registry entries containing the symbol data to your other machines. EP downloads the symbol file, extracts info from it and saves it into the registry.
2. Port over functionality relying on symbol data, like Win-X. The proper solution, so to say. StartAllBack reimplemented the Win-X menu for example in their own code. It’s doable, it just takes time and I never got to it considering the code for Win-X is still in twinui.pcshell.dll. This strategy doesn’t work for everything (some symbols unlock neat functionality, like going to All Apps automatically when opening Windows 11 Start and achieving something similar without symbols is much more difficult), but it would work here. Ideally, I’d keep using symbols only for very high valuable features that can’t be achieved by any other means.
3. An alternative to reimplementing Win-X is to have EP download an older version of twinui.pcshell.dll, a known version we hardcode the offsets for, and use that to generate the Win-X menu with. Idk, it’s clunky, but it should equally work, some older Microsoft DLLs are downloaded anyway to provide certain features.
4. Rely on the built-in symbol downloader, parser and extractor from ExplorerPatcher that just needs Microsoft to have published the symbols and for the computer to be connected to the Internet. Of course, this could be extended to allow grabbing from local symbols/network mirror, but it’s too cumbersome and too much work for too big of a niche case, if you ask me

Ofc, I’d prefer to have option 2, to once and for all end this saga, but until I get to that, I get by with 4 just fine. I feel like missing symbols are the reason many times people experience some kind of a hiccup, but this glitchy behavior has been mentioned again and again multiple times, wiki entries are written about it, yet it still causes so much debate and frustration on both sides, unfortunately.

Also, seeing how symbols are somehow painful for a lot of people, I have refrained from basing more functionality on them, even though this severely limits the scope and possibility for patches and make them needlessly more complex or not portable sometimes. Even recently I did not merge a PR for a new feature (eliminate the line under taskbar buttons) because it added further dependency on symbol data.

Too much frustration coming from something born out of a pure desire to learn more and maybe help others during the process as well. Not only this, but after all this time, there are too many frustrating things that accumulated… sorry.
I understand what you are saying and I do not want to create more work for you. As I mentioned above, I kept the .pdb files that were used from a previous download. I was expecting explorerpatcher to do the same processing on those files like it did when they were downloaded. Should it not work that way?


As you said, let the program do the work. Unfortunately, the symbol processing only works in combination with downloading, even though I'm providing the same files. Could it be that explorerpatcher is not checking for .pdb files in \%APPDATA%\ExplorerPatcher\ that it could use for symbol processing without downloading?


Thanks for taking the time for explaining your situation. I appreciate your work and thanks.
 

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JohnnyFire

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22621.608.51.5 works like a charm! and the right click at tray icon explorer crashes are fixed finally!
i wish one thing! an option to restore the stock right click menu at windows 11 taskbar!
cause soon we have the task manager too an i prefere the look of the stock context menu from the gray modded one, please if its possible and easy add this option!

i found a bug, when i try to export reg files to desktop the explorer crashes everytime.... im now sad again, i removed the patcher and works again.
 
Last edited:

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valinet

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I understand what you are saying and I do not want to create more work for you. As I mentioned above, I kept the .pdb files that were used from a previous download. I was expecting explorerpatcher to do the same processing on those files like it did when they were downloaded. Should it not work that way?


As you said, let the program do the work. Unfortunately, the symbol processing only works in combination with downloading, even though I'm providing the same files. Could it be that explorerpatcher is not checking for .pdb files in \%APPDATA%\ExplorerPatcher\ that it could use for symbol processing without downloading?


Thanks for taking the time for explaining your situation. I appreciate your work and thanks.
I don’t understand what your problem really was. A set of symbol files are valid for a specific build. Once you’re on a different build, it needs other symbol files. The app doesn’t do any checks; when it sees the registry doesn’t contain the offsets it needs for your current build, it figures you’re on a different, new build; it then proceeds to download and process the symbol files and caches the offsets in the registry. The symbol file is just used as scratch data, it’s never read again. As always, checking the source code tells the same story.

Anyway, as I said before, you want to download only once, then let it do this on one computer, then export the offsets from the registry to the second computer and that’s it, no need for Internet access on that machine.
 

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valinet

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22621.608.51.5 works like a charm! and the right click at tray icon explorer crashes are fixed finally!
i wish one thing! an option to restore the stock right click menu at windows 11 taskbar!
cause soon we have the task manager too an i prefere the look of the stock context menu from the gray modded one, please if its possible and easy add this option!

i found a bug, when i try to export reg files to desktop the explorer crashes everytime.... im now sad again, i removed the patcher and works again.
How can we deliver this feature to be provided so as not to confuse users who use the menu provided by EP and that still haven’t got the new menu? Is there a specific CU the new menu ships with for all users?
 

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I don’t understand what your problem really was. A set of symbol files are valid for a specific build. Once you’re on a different build, it needs other symbol files. The app doesn’t do any checks; when it sees the registry doesn’t contain the offsets it needs for your current build, it figures you’re on a different, new build; it then proceeds to download and process the symbol files and caches the offsets in the registry. The symbol file is just used as scratch data, it’s never read again. As always, checking the source code tells the same story.

Anyway, as I said before, you want to download only once, then let it do this on one computer, then export the offsets from the registry to the second computer and that’s it, no need for Internet access on that machine.
Ahhh, okay, Can you tell me the reg entries I need to export to get the correct offsets? Thank you.
 

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Marocco2

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Hi! I'm starting to notice now a nasty bug I have with EP while using Windows 10 Start menu in the latest months.
For some reason, W10 Start menu won't pick up recently installed UWP apps in "All Apps" list even if I was being able to do that before and some of them (those I've already installed but got no icons) have an empty tile image if I try to pin it.
1668616499392.png
1668616631542.png

If there is some workaround or a "reset", I'll very gladly to do it as long as I can recover the tiles functionalities

OS: Windows 11 22H2 build 22621.819
ExplorerPatcher: 22621.608.51.5
 

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nikosyan

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Hi! I'm starting to notice now a nasty bug I have with EP while using Windows 10 Start menu in the latest months.
For some reason, W10 Start menu won't pick up recently installed UWP apps in "All Apps" list even if I was being able to do that before and some of them (those I've already installed but got no icons) have an empty tile image if I try to pin it.

If there is some workaround or a "reset", I'll very gladly to do it as long as I can recover the tiles functionalities

OS: Windows 11 22H2 build 22621.819
ExplorerPatcher: 22621.608.51.5
Have you tried uninstalling and re-installing ExplorerPatcher?
 

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JohnnyFire

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How can we deliver this feature to be provided so as not to confuse users who use the menu provided by EP and that still haven’t got the new menu? Is there a specific CU the new menu ships with for all users?

easy an option to keep the original taskbar context menu and another to enable the current mod
 

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Ahhh, okay, Can you tell me the reg entries I need to export to get the correct offsets? Thank you.
I managed to provide the symbol information without ExplorerPatcher having to download and process the .pdb files again. I used the following registry entries out of a same build system where symbols had already been processed.
Code:
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ExplorerPatcher]
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ExplorerPatcher\twinui.pcshell]

@valinet
One more question: When a build changes via a patch-tuesday update, will ExplorerPatcher check if the
symbol offsets have changed and download new .pdb files?


I just reread your last post and I believe the answer to my question above would be yes. Is that correct?
 
Last edited:

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valinet

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easy an option to keep the original taskbar context menu and another to enable the current mod
Latest pre-release (22621.819.52.1) includes such an option under ExplorerPatcher Properties - Advanced - Do not change the taskbar context menu (setting is stored at `HKCU\Software\ExplorerPatcher\NoPropertiesInContextMenu` dword).

I managed to provide the symbol information without ExplorerPatcher having to download and process the .pdb files again. I used the following registry entries out of a same build system where symbols had already been processed.
Code:
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ExplorerPatcher]
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ExplorerPatcher\twinui.pcshell]

@valinet
One more question: When a build changes via a patch-tuesday update, will ExplorerPatcher check if the
symbol offsets have changed and download new .pdb files?
Was about to reference the entries. They are located in `def.h` and refrenced in `symbols.c` in the source code:

```
#define REGPATH "SOFTWARE\\ExplorerPatcher"
#define REGPATH_OLD "SOFTWARE\\Microsoft\\Windows\\CurrentVersion\\Explorer\\ExplorerPatcher"
#define REGPATH_STARTMENU REGPATH_OLD
```

The Start menu symbols are stored in a different folder because the `StartMenuExperienceHost.exe` is restricted by the system to only access certain paths in the registry, and is thus unable to read things under `HKCU\Software\ExplorerPatcher`.

If you look in the registry (and the source code), after symbols are downloaded, the OS build number those offsets correspond to is stored under `HKCU\Software\ExplorerPatcher\OSBuild`. When the application starts, it always checks the current OS build number against what is stored in the registry at that location. If the two match, then the offsets from the registry are used (the offsets cached in the registry are presumably corresponding to the OS build you're currently running). If they do not match, the symbols are downloaded, parsed and offsets cached in the registry (again), as the OS build number changed, so it's VERY likely that you upgraded to a new OS build, thus this being necessary. So, besides the symbol offset entries (those in the folders `twinui.pcshell`, `StartDocked`, and `StartUI`), you also have to carry this `OSBuild` string entry with you, set to the build number the offsets correspond to (for e.g., mine is currently set to "10.0.22000.1098" as that is the OS build I am running).
 

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JohnnyFire

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Latest pre-release (22621.819.52.1) includes such an option under ExplorerPatcher Properties - Advanced - Do not change the taskbar context menu (setting is stored at `HKCU\Software\ExplorerPatcher\NoPropertiesInContextMenu` dword).

thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!! for the option! works and loving it! im testing the new crash i had before with 22621.608.51.6, seems everything works now more testing needed!
 

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Marocco2

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Have you tried uninstalling and re-installing ExplorerPatcher?
Tried right now.
Some icons were restore but other broken tiles are still there
 

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starbuck

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Have recently upgraded to Windows 11 and started using Explorer Patcher and it's a life saver. The only thing I'm missing is having access to Settings buton just above the Power button in the Start Menu like it was in Windows 10. I've looked around inside of Explorer Patcher configuration and I can't seem to find any option to turn on the appearance of the Settings button in the Start Menu so that it's like it was in Windows 10? Is that possible?
 

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Hello @starbuck
What happens when you right click on that start button?
 

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Windows 11 Pro 22H2
@OAT - right-click on Start Menu button doesn't seem to do anything. I get no response?
 

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System One

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 22H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom Build
    CPU
    Intel Core i5-12600K
    Motherboard
    ASUS TUF GAMING Z690-PLUS WIFI D4
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    DDR4-3603 / PC4-28800 DDR4 SDRAM UDIMM
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OAT

I never seem to know enough.
Member
Local time
6:19 AM
Posts
233
Location
San Diego, CA
OS
Windows 11 Pro FW Dev/VM XeroLinux
@Starbuck
OK, you do with W11 enabled, but that does not help you.
What about putting a settings icon on your taskbar? Would that work?
 

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System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro FW Dev/VM XeroLinux
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC. TUF Gaming FX705GM 1.0
    CPU
    2.20 gigahertz Intel i7-8750H Hyper-threaded 12 cores
    Motherboard
    ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC. FX705GM 1.0
    Memory
    24428 Megabytes
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    Intel(R) UHD Graphics 630 / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
    Sound Card
    Intel(R) Display Audio / Realtek(R) Audio
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    Integrated Monitor (17.3"vis)
    Screen Resolution
    FHD 1920X1080 16:9
    Hard Drives
    2 SSD SATA/NVM Express 1.3
    WDS500G2B0A-00SM50 500.1 GB
    WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-256G-1002 256 GB
    PSU
    19V DC 6.32 A 120 W
    Cooling
    Dual Fans
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    AZERTY
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  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Insider Beta
    Computer type
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    ASUS X751BP
    CPU
    AMD Dual Core A6-9220
    Motherboard
    ASUS
    Memory
    8 GB
    Graphics card(s)
    AMD Radeon R5 M420
    Sound Card
    Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17.3
    Screen Resolution
    1600X900 16:9
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    1TB 5400RPM

starbuck

Member
Local time
2:19 AM
Posts
10
OS
Windows 11 Pro 22H2
@Starbuck
OK, you do with W11 enabled, but that does not help you.
What about putting a settings icon on your taskbar? Would that work?
I can look at something like that @OAT - I'll have to monkey around with manual shortcut it looks like. Using 'Pin to Start' on the Settings App doesn't put it into the Windows 10 tiles even.


I was just asking here and hoping there might be an option that I was missing somewhere since Explorer Patch is so close to mimicking the Windows 10 Start Menu except for that
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 22H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom Build
    CPU
    Intel Core i5-12600K
    Motherboard
    ASUS TUF GAMING Z690-PLUS WIFI D4
    Memory
    DDR4-3603 / PC4-28800 DDR4 SDRAM UDIMM
    Graphics Card(s)
    EVGA RTX 2060 Super XC Ultra Gaming (08G-P4-3163)
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 970 EVO 1TB
    PSU
    Corsair 750W Gold
    Case
    Corsair
    Cooling
    Corsair
    Internet Speed
    Fibre 1gbps

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