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Shut-Down Restart Windows Explorer

Friday, February 5th, 2010 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management

My computer gets really slow when I’m browsing around large folders, but I hear that shutting down and restarting Windows Explorer can help this. Can you explain?

You might already know how to find the Windows Task Manager: the phrase (Ctrl-Alt-Delete) is probably the first advice you hear if something crashes. However, to reach the Task Manager directly, try (Ctrl+Shift+Esc). But the task manager is also a great way to start programs, restart your computer, and find out if something is slowing your system down.

Sometimes, if you browse very large folders or view folders with corrupted thumbnail pictures, Explorer may get bogged down, and all of your file browsing can suffer a slowdown. What is Explorer? Explorer.exe is the main user interface for Windows – the desktop, folders, and windows that you use to browse – or explore – for files and applications. If Explorer slows down but doesn’t crash, Windows doesn’t know to restart it – and that leaves it up to you.

To stop Explorer, you first open the Task Manager. Press (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) on your keyboard simultaneously. Sometimes this is the hardest part of the process – if your keyboard layout is unconventional, you may have to reach!

By default, the Task Manager stays on top of all other windows so that you don’t lose it. There are a few tabs in the Task Manager, but you want to left-click on the tab called Processes.

The Processes tab may look confusing, but its purpose is simple: this is where your background programs run. Some of the program names are confusing, but we’re only looking for one: explorer.exe.

Once you locate explorer.exe, left-click on it once to highlight it. Then, right-click to bring up the Process menu. Before you take the next step, make sure that you don’t have any windows open. Left-click on End Process. This will stop Explorer.

You might notice your desktop icons disappear – don’t worry! That’s what Explorer does, so it’s time to restart it.

The Task Manager has its own file menu. At the top left of the Task Manager, left-click File, and then left-click New Task (Run…).

You will see a dialog box called Create New Task.

You can start all sorts of programs from here, just like in the Run menu in the taskbar. To restart explorer, just type explorer into the empty field, and then click OK.

Your desktop icons and your taskbar should reappear. Congratulations! You’ve just stopped and restarted a background program. You can use this to refresh your machine after heavy file browsing, or you can use these functions of the Task Manager to start and stop programs at will.

~Gregory Pretti

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