How to Restart Explorer.exe in Windows 10

When your Taskbar, Notification area, or Start menu disappear or become unresponsive, restarting the Explorer.exe process can usually remedy the problem. This is a very simple fix and can save you from having to restart your computer entirely.

What Is Windows Explorer (Explorer.exe)?

Explorer is part of Windows’ graphical user interface, responsible for powering things like your Start menu, Taskbar, Desktop and other various interface features – even the right-click context menu.

If you find any of these graphical interfaces to be hanging up or disappearing from your screen entirely, Explorer.exe has likely encountered an error and needs to be reset.

Restart Windows Explorer from Task Manager

One way you can always restart Explorer.exe is from Windows’ Task Manager.

1. Start the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete on your keyboard and then clicking on Task Manager from the menu.

The Ctrl+Alt+Delete menu in Windows 10

An even faster way is with the Ctrl + Shift + Escape keyboard combination, which will open Task Manager directly. You can also open it by right clicking your taskbar, though there’s a good chance that won’t be an option if Explorer.exe is already causing problems.

Menu from right clicking the taskbar

2. When Task Manager opens up, you may need to click “More Details” in order to see a full list of running processes.

Task Manager window with more details

3. In the Processes tab, find Windows Explorer in the list. Highlight it and then click “Restart.”

Processes menu in Task Manager, with Windows Explorer highlighted and hitting the restart button

Explorer.exe should restart within just a few moments. Hopefully this will restore the functionality of your Taskbar, Start menu, and other graphical elements.

Restart Windows Explorer from Taskbar

If Windows Explorer is causing problems, you may not be able to use your Taskbar at all. In that case, resort to the Task Manager instructions above. However, if you’re able to interact with the Taskbar, there’s a simple way to restart Explorer.exe in a couple mouse clicks.

1. Hold down Ctrl + Shift on your keyboard and right-click any empty area of the Taskbar.

2. The “Exit Explorer” option should show up. Click on it to close the Explorer.exe process.

Menu when right clicking Windows Taskbar with Ctrl+Shift keyboard combination, showing the Exit Explorer option

3. Open Task Manager with Ctrl + Shift + Escape on your keyboard. Click on File > Run new task.

Run a new task from Task Manager

4. Type explorer.exe in the “Create new task” window and click OK.

Creating a new task for explorer.exe from Task Manager

Windows Explorer will now start back up.

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