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.
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.
2. When Task Manager opens up, you may need to click “More Details” in order to see a full list of running processes.
3. In the Processes tab, find Windows Explorer in the list. Highlight it and then click “Restart.”
Explorer.exe should restart within just a few moments. Hopefully this will restore the functionality of your Taskbar, Start menu, and other graphical elements.