Windows Explorer

explorer.exe. What is it?

Explorer.exe is a safe file developed by Microsoft Corporation. The file is part of Microsoft Windows Operating System. The explorer.exe file is a Windows GUI shell, that is usually called Windows Explorer. Its graphical user interface lets you see your hard drives, folders, and files. At first explorer.exe was used only to browse files, but with the release of newer Windows versions it evolved to being a task-based file management system.


WindowsExplorer.exe location is usually at the %WINDOWS% sub-folder and its usual size is 1,032,192 bytes.

Note: The explorer.exe file should be in the C:\Windows folder. If you find it anywhere else, then explorer.exe is a virus, trojan, worm, or spyware! Scan your computer with Auslogics Antivirus to make sure it's not infected.

Important: ZAPCHAS-AC can mask itself as explorer.exe.

Sometimes explorer.exe gets corrupted or infected. When that happens, desktop drops and you can’t see any icons, there is no taskbar – all you get is your desktop background. Sometimes everything seems to be fine, but drops soon after booting up, then keeps re-appearing and disappearing so fast that you can’t run any programs, open documents, etc.

Luckily, there is a way to fix this issue without having to reinstall Windows:

1. Backup the Registry
2. Open Task Manager (press Ctrl+Alt+Del or Ctrl+Shift+Esc)
3. Then click File - New Task (Run).
4. Type regedit in the Run box and click OK.
5. Browse to the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution.options

6. There might be sub-keys named explorer.exe and iexplorer.exe under this key. Those keys should not be listed under the Image File Execution.options registry key. Delete them entirely.
7. Close Registry Editor.
8. Reboot your computer.

If there are no other infections, Windows desktop should load fine now. Run a scan with Auslogics Antivirus to get rid of any other infections.

When Windows Explorer Crashes

Some people suffer from regular Windows Explorer crashes. Usually Explorer crashes when you are browsing your folders or right-click a file or a folder.

Most likely third-party shell extensions cause these problems. Some application that you install add a context menu shortcut of their own. So when you right-click in Windows Explorer, you get more options, e.g. to scan a file or a folder with your anti-virus software and various other non-standard options.


Now, if for some reason those extensions aren’t working properly, you might start getting errors when right-clicking. The easiest way to get rid of those errors is to disable the faulty extension. But how to find out which one is the culprit?

There is a tool called ShellExView that lets you view and disable and re-enable each shell extension. Run it and you’ll see all shell extensions installed on your computer. Then sort them in such a way that all non-Microsoft extensions are grouped together:

 explorer.exe shellexview

Then disable all non-Microsoft items and do exactly what cause Explorer crash to check it out. If the problem is gone, then one of the extension was causing it. Re-enable them one by one and test Windows Explorer after enabling each of them. After finding the culprit, try updating the software or contact the manufacturer (ShellExView gives you the information about manufacturer and version number). Or just stop using that extension and find an alternative.

How to Fix Explorer.exe Crashing in Windows 7 x64

Explorer.exe is known to keep crashing in Windows 7 x64. Fortunately, it's really easy to fix it. The problem is that explorer.exe is located in the SysWOW64 directory, but Windows looks for it in Windows\System32. Since there is no explorer.exe there, it keeps crashing. To fix this all you need to do is copy (not move!) explorer.exe from the SysWOW64 folder and paste it into the Windows\System32 folder. That should eliminate the crashes.

How to Safely Terminate explorer.exe

Even though disabling explorer.exe is not recommended, you might need to do it. Of course, it is possible to kill it from the Task Manager, but terminating any process in such a way can be dangerous. There is a better, absolutely safe way to stop the explorer.exe process.

In Windows XP you’ll need to get to the shutdown dialog, hold down Ctrl+Shift+Alt keys and then click the Cancel button.

In Vista (standard Start menu) click on the Start button, then hold down Ctrl+Shift and right-click on any empty area in the Start menu (or on the power button). Select Exit Explorer in the context menu. If you have classic Start menu, use the XP method described above.

exit explorer  

After that you’ll have to start explorer.exe manually. To do that open Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del or Ctrl+Shift+Esc). In the Task Manager go to File New Task (Run) – type in explorer and click OK. That will bring the shell back.

Windows Explorer Alternatives

If you don’t like Windows Explorer and would like it to have more features, think of downloading one of numerous Windows Explorer alternatives. Here are two file managers that I find worth to consider:

1. Xplorer2 lite is a free version of a pretty powerful file manager. But honestly you won’t be disappointed with the number of options the free version has to offer:

•    Triple threat interface
•    Portable software
•    Tabbed exploring
•    Bookmark folders and files
•    File filter
•    Ftp folders support
•    Keyboard shortcuts and more


2. TotalCommander is another great Explorer replacement. It has a 30-day trial period and the full version costs USD38.00. The only thing I don’t like about it is the way it looks. Here are some of its features:

•    Two file windows side by side
•    Has a portable version
•    Enhanced search function
•    Compare files (now with editor) / synchronize directories
•    Quick View panel with bitmap display
•    ZIP, ARJ, LZH, RAR, UC2, TAR, GZ, CAB, ACE archive handling + plugins
•    Built-in FTP client with FXP (server to server) and HTTP proxy support
•    Parallel port link, multi-rename tool
•    Tabbed interface, regular expressions, history + favourites buttons
•    Thumbnails view, custom columns, enhanced search



The explorer.exe process is safe and disabling it can be dangerous, because programs on your computer need it to work correctly.


Author: Microsoft CorporationPart Of: Microsoft® Windows® Operating SystemCommon path(s): subfolder %SYSTEM%
subfolder %WINDOWS%


Malware risk: Scan your PC for viruses and Trojans
Some viruses infect computers while disguised in the form of legitimate files, like explorer.exe. Run an antivirus scan to ensure your PC is clean and safe.
Registry Errors: Free scan (run Registry Cleaner)Uninstallation: N/A Uninstall (run Unistall Manager)Disk & Memory Usage: N/A Free scan (run Task Manager)

User opinions

explorer.exe has the following rating: 4.0
based on 29 user opinions.
Add your comment
Thank you for your comment!
by Greg Cannon on Oct 3, 2020 at 06:25 PM

The "Mighty" Cannon Godhead Reigns, and Jehova Rules.

2 | 1
by Duder on Dec 15, 2012 at 07:15 PM

Causes system freezes, not safe at all.

0 | 4
by ????????? on Aug 15, 2012 at 04:07 AM

??? ???? ?????? ?? ????????!!! ??? ?????? ????!!!

2 | 3
by tr245 on Jul 12, 2012 at 09:48 AM

this is a virus

2 | 6
by Francisca on May 1, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Definitely the new one. It's very handy to be able to see your file list whilst edtiing.Of course everyone likes the old one – it's what they're used to! But that's not a reason at to which is better. How many people are saying they prefer Windows XP over Windows Vista? In the long term, the newer is better – its just a matter of getting use to it.

2 | 1
by Theresa on Apr 29, 2012 at 10:50 PM

Of the 2 choices, I prfeer the new – but maybe that is because I am so used to looking at SiteCenter! What I would really prfeer is something that was more user friendly – ie. you could select page NAME ("Choose a page to edit: Home Page, About Us, etc") rather than by file name, as end users of this type of system don't need or want to understand about site and file structures. They think "I want to edit the About Us page" so how can you make that easier for them?

0 | 0
by Sachiyo on Apr 29, 2012 at 04:55 PM

Gosh, I could write much much more about cases like this one :) But in most cases the problem lies wihtin driver/manager supplied with certain display adapter (especially by AMD/ATI & Intel) - some of them have really weird keyboard shortcuts, even "wild" I'd say :)Oj, o takich przypadkach mf3g?bym si? rozpisa? :) Ale wi?kszo?? problemf3w stanowi? najcz??ciej sterowniki i managery dodawane do kart graficznych (szczegf3lnie AMD/ATI i Intel) - tam niektf3re domy?lne skrf3ty klawiaturowe s? naprawd? dziwne, rzek?bym nawet "dzikie" :)

4 | 1
by kewl on Apr 23, 2012 at 09:11 PM

very lamig - as 8in baleng galeng super sapar

1 | 3
by Cheyenne on Jan 3, 2012 at 09:53 PM

Lot of stamrs in that posting!

0 | 2
by Wilma on Jan 3, 2012 at 09:48 PM

Boy that ralely helps me the heck out.

0 | 0
by Mande on Jan 3, 2012 at 08:36 PM

Good point. I hadn't tghuoht about it quite that way. :)

2 | 0
by Kaleigh on Jan 2, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Geez, that's ubenlievalbe. Kudos and such.

2 | 0
by Gabby on Jan 2, 2012 at 01:29 AM

This shows real expertise. Thanks for the aneswr.

1 | 0
by Kris on Jan 2, 2012 at 01:17 AM

Never would have thunk I would find this so indipsesanlbe.

0 | 0
by Cherilynn on Jan 1, 2012 at 10:39 PM

Information is power and now I'm a !@#$ing ditcator.

2 | 0
by Elvis on Sep 29, 2011 at 03:21 PM

Thank you so much !! That iexplorer key was the bad guy :D

0 | 4
by user on Aug 28, 2011 at 04:57 AM

I disabled all non-microsoft extensions but still problem is occurring. explorer.exe is using 50-99 percent of CPU which slows down my PC and results in hanging....

1 | 1
by Eileen on Jun 17, 2011 at 01:33 AM

ShellExView found the extension causing my explorer.exe crashes - thank you soooo much!

1 | 0
by anas on Oct 21, 2010 at 05:03 PM

explorer can help to download side availbl in the inter net

4 | 8
by Tim on Jun 29, 2010 at 08:59 PM

so this didnt work either

12 | 6
by VincentVega on Jun 7, 2010 at 04:39 PM

Thank you so very much this helped me a lot, virtual cd shell extension was causing me the explorer crash

8 | 2
by richard gborglah on Mar 20, 2010 at 03:12 PM

l weant to know every thing about microsoft

1 | 22
by richard gborglah on Mar 20, 2010 at 03:07 PM

please l weant know all about microsoft

0 | 19
by werllys on Feb 14, 2010 at 08:59 PM

esse site esta de parábens ,continue assim

5 | 2
by ipodman on Feb 12, 2010 at 07:03 PM

it worked I removed a third party shell extension thanks a ton

6 | 2
by Green Tea on Feb 11, 2010 at 11:02 PM

Nice post, thanks for sharing this wonderful and useful information with us. Green Tea Weight Loss

5 | 6
by bobi on Oct 3, 2009 at 08:26 AM

i will see

6 | 8
by Abhisek Pattnaik on Aug 3, 2009 at 03:20 PM

Its normally a safe file, but may be completely unsafe when attacked by any virus or trojan or spyware. It is the most vulnerable file in Windows.

17 | 1
by Joao on Jun 4, 2009 at 02:48 AM

Safe. Windows Explorer.

13 | 5
Add your comment
Your name:
Your rating:
unrated file
Characters Type the characters you see in the picture:
Show another picture

Similar Files