Hack Attack : Terminate Explorer.exe Cleanly On Vista

by Karthik on May 16, 2008 · 21 comments

explorer

I keep trying variety of registry tricks everyday, and install and uninstall numerous applications that demand a restart whenever I install them. To get away with boring restart process I normally kill Explorer.exe from the task manager and wait for it to restart automagically. But the problem is that the Task Manager method is like forcibly killing the process instead of terminating it cleanly.

Luckily there is a hidden option in both Windows XP and Windows Vista Start Menu that will allow you to terminate and restart Explorer.exe cleanly. As you can see in the screenshot above there’s a hidden option in the start menu to cleanly terminate Explorer.exe. Follow these steps to get that option visible and cleanly terminated Explorer.exe.

Click the Start button. Press and hold the CTRL and SHIFT keys, and right-click on an empty area in the Start menu. You’ll see a Popup menu containing the two options namely Exit Explorer and Properties. Alternatively you could get the above Popup menu by holding the CTRL and SHIFT keys and then right-clicking on the Start menu power button itself.

startnewprocess

After selecting the Exit Explorer command, the shell (Start menu, Taskbar and the Desktop) will exit and the other applications will continue to run normally. You need to manually start a new Explorer.exe process by launching Task Manager. Use the CTRL+SHIFT+ESC key sequence to launch Task Manager. From the File menu of Task Manager, choose New Task (Run’), type Explorer.exe and press ENTER.

And you should now be looking at a clean shiny new Explorer process running at full speed. This way of restarting Explorer is a much safer process and has been recommended by Microsoft itself. Please let us know how this works for you in the comments.

If you are a Windows XP user there is a similar hack described by Microsoft employee Jeff. Have a look at that as well.

Credit : Aaron Margosis

See more from: Windows

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

FireFox May 17, 2008 at 1:09 am

I don’t know if I’m doing this right. I hold CTRL+SHIFT in the start menu and only properties pop’s up..

Reply

FireFox May 17, 2008 at 1:12 am

Sorry, the XP trick is this one

Start-Shutdown : CTRL+ALT+SHIFT + click on cancel.
Works perfectly !

Reply

Keith Dsouza May 17, 2008 at 9:38 am

Cool tip buddy, I just generated a new post based on your post. Thanks for the tip :)

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Karthik Kastury May 17, 2008 at 9:59 pm

@Keith, Thanks mate for the link. Hopefully I’ll be able to discover more such cool tips in the future.. :)

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FireFox May 17, 2008 at 10:34 pm

These things are everything what makes a nerd a pro ;)

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Karthik Kastury May 17, 2008 at 11:05 pm

@Firefox, That really was a rather sweet comment from you. Thank you very much..

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Tyson May 20, 2008 at 8:21 am

Why would you want to terminate explorer and then reopen it anyways?

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jonny rocket June 18, 2008 at 9:06 am

“Start-Shutdown : CTRL+ALT+SHIFT + click on cancel.
Works perfectly !”

doesn’t work!

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Deepelmdesciple June 27, 2008 at 8:05 pm

I actually figured this out by accident. One day I turn my PC on and it just refused to run Explorer.exe (one day a month or so later it came back but I still don’t know what happened). So I opened the task manager and figured out how to run it manually as well as run every other program manually, but what I discovered was that if I left Explorer.exe off and only opened the programs I needed it was WAY FASTER. Of course you need explorer for a lot of things, but I recommend leaving it off if you just want to go online, listen to music, and anything else that you don’t need Explorer.exe for. The best way to sum up the way my PC ran is to say that without Explorer I was able to have Firefox, Itunes, Yahoo! Messenger, UTorrent, and Limewire, all running at once, no problems.

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PellesReality December 3, 2008 at 4:54 am

Much easier in Vista to (right click) and open the (Task Manager).

In the (Processes) tab you (right click) and terminate (explorer.exe).

Now,in the (Arcive tab) you choose (new activity – run).

Type (explorer.exe) in the blank field and push OK.

CLEAN RESTART AND EVERYBODY IS HAPPY.

Thanks and bye. :)

Reply

Josh Einstein January 15, 2009 at 8:25 pm

PellesReality:

1) How is that easier?
2) If you do that, any changes to icon positions, taskbar size, toolbar visibility, start menu ordering, etc will be lost. The way described in this post is much better.

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Craig March 15, 2009 at 4:32 pm

What a great tip

Thank you

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tonydonnelly August 21, 2009 at 10:30 pm

I tried the above instructions of just clicking on the start button and then right clicking while holding down the CTRL and SHIFT keys in a clear area of the start menu and then exited Explorer….. MY GOD IT WORKED!!!!! Thank you very much Aaron Margosis. Many thanks to you. I been looking to resolve this problem for 8mths…

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tonydonnelly August 22, 2009 at 8:00 am

I tried the above instructions of just clicking on the start button and then right clicking while holding down the CTRL and SHIFT keys in a clear area of the start menu and then exited Explorer….. MY GOD IT WORKED!!!!! Thank you very much Aaron Margosis. Many thanks to you. I been looking to resolve this problem for 8mths…

Reply

shitlymswindows November 14, 2009 at 4:53 am

VISTA IS SUCK IN BIG TIME

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Dawzell November 19, 2009 at 10:29 am

Right on!! I am a Vista user and I have been watching the cpu usage of explorer.exe hovering consistently at around 50%. It`s like the sliver in your finger that won`t stop you right in your tracks, but will bug you big time nonetheless. I followed your path and it works!! Thanks!!

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wrecKINGball February 20, 2010 at 8:10 am

Works in Windows 7 too hold CTRL + SHIFT and right click on shutdown button (or empty space) to get the menu.

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Best Registry Cleaner December 3, 2010 at 7:40 am

Thank. What a great tip!

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