Stop and Restart Explorer on Windows 7 The Easy Way

Have you been in a situation where your Windows taskbar disappeared, or your screen went blank because Explorer stopped/crashed? Here’s how to fix it.

Have you ever been in a situation where your Windows taskbar disappeared, or your screen went blank because Explorer stopped/crashed? Whether you’re using Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7, you’ll encounter this same error when Explorer goes down. One of the new hidden features in Windows 7 is an elegant way to manually shut down the Explorer service to kick start Windows and get things running again. This crafty trick also comes in handy when you need to apply a particular registry change but don’t want to restart your entire system.

How To Exit or Stop Explorer.exe In Windows 7

1. Click the Windows Start Menu to open it up.

click the windows 7 start menu

2. Next, hold the Shift and Ctrl keys on your keyboard simultaneously. Then right-click an empty area on the start menu. A small context menu should appear; click Exit Explorer.

hold the keys and right click the start menu to exit explorer in windows 7

That’s it. No more taskbar, and all of your open Explorer (C: My Documents, My Music, etc.) windows will all close. So now that it’s gone, any changes you made to Explorer will now be applied. Let’s start it back up again.

Start Explorer.exe on Windows 7 From A Blank Screen

3. On your keyboard, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc all at the same time.

press your keyboard to open task manager in windows 7

4. In the Task Manager, click the File menu and then select New Task. A pop-up window should appear in the Open text box type explorer and then click OK.

start explorer in windows 7

The taskbar and full Windows GUI are back up and running. It’s a simple trick to save you from the hassle of rebooting when Explorer crashes. Or, during those times, you need to apply certain changes.



  1. Teknojo

    What is the purpose of changing or adding to the old key combination of ctrl+alt+del to access task manager?

    • goLfie

      While the CTRL+ALT+DEL security menu DOES give you access to Task Manager, it’s much faster and doesn’t lock your screen up to just do the shortcut in the how-to above. I prefer it anyday since it just loads Task Manager directly and nearly everything in the CTRL+ALT+DEL menu is unused besides it anyway.
      “Windows Key + L” = Lock computer
      And everything else can be done right from the start menu.

      The “Windows Key + R” combination to open up the run dialog doesn’t seem to work if explorer isn’t running so that isn’t an option either. It’s funny they made a good way to exit explorer but the way to boot it back up hasn’t changed since Windows 98.

  2. henk

    thanks mate, looking for this. Task bar disappears frequently. Will click on your (and wil try the most expensive) adsense ad to say ‘thanks’ !

    • MrGroove

      @Henk – heheh very nice. I’m glad the solution worked out well for you! Welcome to the community. Hope to see you around int he comments here on groovyPost!

    • Akshat

      I followed the steps but i got a message that,”remote procedure call failed and did not execute.”

  3. hyugz

    nice! this has been running in the background of my mind ever since! i’ve +1’d and will post your stuff on g+ to show my appreciation. thanks!

  4. Sebastian Block

    Ok. Why do I need to do the “start menu shift+ctrl+rightclick” thingy if I need to open the taskmanager anyway? I can open the taskmanager right away, kill the explorer.exe and start it again. Should be even faster.

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