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

    May 11, 2010 at 11:08 pm

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

    • goLfie

      May 12, 2010 at 1:40 am

      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

    November 28, 2010 at 5:22 am

    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

      November 28, 2010 at 5:27 pm

      @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

      April 14, 2021 at 11:01 pm

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

  3. hyugz

    December 13, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    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

    October 18, 2012 at 11:08 am

    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.

  5. Annie

    February 25, 2023 at 5:44 am

    please please for help. My windexplorer.exe does not crash. It does not remember what it just did. If I make new folder, it takes about 10 min.for it to remember. it does NOT “autorefresh”. Any deletion of a file, I have to stop it as a process and logoff too.
    I have ran tons of antivirus antimalware,etc. I find nothing. No rootkits. Need to fix this, it happened after my last MS update.

    Thank you so much!

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