Windows: Restart Windows Explorer When the User Interface Freezes

No matter which version of Windows you’re using, there will come a time when the GUI freezes up. It’s easy to fix this by restarting explorer.exe.

Here’s an example of Windows 7 acting unstable. Only a portion of my desktop background is showing, and shortcut icons are blank.

Desktop Unstable

Right-click the Taskbar then click Start Task Manager.
Start Task Manager

Windows Task Manager launches. Click the Processes tab, right-click on explorer.exe and click End Process.


You’ll get a message asking if you really want to end explorer.exe – click End Process.


The desktop will clear of everything except Windows Task Manager.

Empty Desktop

From the Windows Task Manager menu click File >> New Task.


The Create New Task dialog box comes up. In the Open field type: explorer.exe and click OK.


Your desktop comes back working correctly with all of your icons.


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. TechLogon

    November 7, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Nice post, and good screenshots of a frozen system!

    It may not always work (depends what froze) but well worth trying. In my experience it fixes the problem more frequently in W7 than XP, shame that XP tends to freeze more than W7 ;-)

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