General Restart Windows Explorer.exe Process in Windows 11


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File_Explorer_banner.png

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.

This tutorial will show you how to restart the explorer.exe process as needed in Windows 11.


Contents





Option One

Restart explorer.exe Process in Task Manager


1 Open Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc).

2 Select Windows Explorer in the Processes tab, and click/tap on the Restart button (old Task Manager) or Restart task (new Task Manager). (see screenshots below)

3 When finished, you can close Task Manager if you like.

Restart_explorer_Task_Manager-1.png
Restart_explorer_Task_Manager-2.png





Option Two

Restart explorer.exe Process using Command


1 Open Windows Terminal, and select either Windows PowerShell or Command Prompt.

2 Copy and paste the taskkill /f /im explorer.exe command into the terminal, and press Enter to stop the explorer.exe process. (see screenshot below)

3 Copy and paste the start explorer.exe command into the terminal, and press Enter when ready to start the explorer.exe process.

4 When finished, you can close Windows Terminal if you like.

Restart_explorer_command.png





Option Three

Start explorer.exe Process in Task Manager


This option is good for when the explorer.exe process has already been stopped, and you are stuck with a blank black desktop with only the pointer displaying.


1 Open Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc).

2 Perform one of the following actions depending on if you have the old or new Task Manager: (see screenshots below)
  • Old = Click/tap on File (menu bar), and click/tap on Run new task.
  • New = Click/tap on Run new task at the top.
Start_explorer_Task_Manager-1.png
Start_explorer_Task_Manager-3.png

3 Type explorer.exe, and click/tap on OK. (see screenshot below)

Start_explorer_Task_Manager-2.png

4 When finished, you can close Task Manager if you like.


That's it,
Shawn Brink


 

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Try3

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Brink

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Try3

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Thanks. I think I'll stick with you & your method.

Denis
 

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Try3

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Brink,

I have been thinking about this a bit more.
Restarting explorer does not log the user off so there is no requirement to consolidate this session's changes to the user profile [ntuser.dat]. The current session's changes [*.regtrans-ms] are not lost, they are still there after the restart [Option 2 method].
So I don't think that there is a problem to be addressed after all.

All the best,
Denis
 

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PurSpyk!!

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Thanks for this, Windows 11 seems to have issues with games and the Start Menu on my system (start menu stops working), and restarting Explorer is the best fix, restarting the pc is not always ideal
 

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