How do I fix Windows explorer not responding?.
Windows Explorer has a long history of stability issues, and the rebranding of Explorer in recent versions of Windows has done little to improve. Thus, it is not uncommon to experience random freezes and crashes with accompanying error messages such as "Windows Explorer is not responding" and "Windows Explorer has stopped working" when interacting with the file system on the PC.
Most difficulties with Windows Explorer or File Explorer are one-time problems that only appear when the operating system is under stress. But if you keep running into the same problem, the troubleshooting tips below will help you fix it.
Restart File Explorer
Restarting Windows Explorer (which is still the main process behind File Explorer) is a quick fix for minor system-related glitches that cause it to freeze or crash.
1. Right-click the taskbar and select the Task Manager option. If the taskbar is not responding, use the Shift + Ctrl + Esc keyboard shortcut to launch the Task Manager.
2. Select "Details" to expand the default Task Manager view.
3. On the Processes tab, find and right-click Windows Explorer. Then select "Restart".
Reopen File Explorer
In addition to managing files, File Explorer also supports user interfaces behind elements such as the taskbar and desktop. Therefore, if it crashes completely (for example, you cannot see the taskbar and desktop), you will have to reopen it manually.
1. Press Shift + Ctrl + Esc to open the Task Manager.
2. Open the File menu and select Run New Task.
3. Enter explorer.exe and click OK.
Disable Details and Preview Panes
If you only encounter "Windows Explorer is not responding" or "Windows Explorer has stopped working" errors when you select files and folders in File Explorer, try disabling the Info and Preview panels.
1. Open a new explorer window.
2. Select the "View" tab.
3. Inside the Panels group, deactivate the preview pane and the details pane.
4. Restart the Windows Explorer process through the task manager.
5. Restart File Explorer and check if the problem is still there. If so, proceed to fix the rest.
Change Default File Explorer View
If File Explorer freezes or crashes when you open it, changing the default view from Quick Access to This PC can prevent this from happening. You will no longer see a list of recent files and folders, but it allows you to eliminate problems caused by outdated or broken entries in the history of the explorer.
1. Press Windows + R to open the Run window. Then enter control folders and click OK. The Explorer Options dialog box should appear.
2. On the General tab, open the drop-down menu next to Open File Explorer In and select This PC.
3. Select Apply> OK to save your changes.
If that helps, reopen the File Explorer Options dialog box and select Clear to clear your File Explorer history. Then change the default view back to quick access. After that, the problem should no longer occur.
Clear Thumbnail Cache
Explorer displays thumbnails of files and folders. But outdated thumbnail cache is another possible cause of freezes and crashes, so clearing it can help.
3. Select "OK".
Disable Thumbnail Previews
If clearing the thumbnail cache didn't help, try turning off all thumbnail previews in File Explorer.
1. Open the File Explorer Options dialog box and click the View tab.
2. In the Advanced Settings section, select the Always show icons, not thumbnails check box.
3. Select Apply> OK.
Set Display Scale and Layout to Defaults
Using a larger display size for text and applications can also cause Windows Explorer not responding and Windows Explorer has stopped working errors. It is best to revert this value to the recommended default.
1. Open the Start menu and select Settings> System> Display.
2. Scroll down to the Scale and Layout section.
3. Set the "Resize Text, Attachments, and Other Items to 100% (Recommended)".
Update or Roll Back Display Driver
An outdated display driver can cause all sorts of explorer related problems. You can download and install the latest driver by going to your graphics card manufacturer's website – NVIDIA, AMD, or Intel.
However, if the problem occurred immediately after a recent display driver update, you need to rollback.
1. Press Windows + X and select Device Manager.
2. Expand Display Adapters.
3. Right-click the video card driver you want to rollback and select Properties.
4. Click on the "Drivers" tab.
5. Select Roll Back Driver.
Update Windows 10
In addition to display drivers, File Explorer may also become unresponsive or stop working due to an outdated version of Windows 10. If you haven't updated your operating system recently, try to do so as soon as possible.
1. Select Start> Settings> Update & Security> Windows Update.
2. Select Check for Updates to search for new updates.
3. Select Download and Install to apply the pending updates.
Also, check and install all display-related drivers under View Additional Updates (if you see this option).
Run Malware Scan
Malware can cause all sorts of problems and prevent important Windows components such as File Explorer from working properly. If you don't have a third-party antivirus solution on your computer, you can use Windows Security to remove malware.
1. Select Windows Security on the taskbar.
2. Go to Virus & threat protection> Check for updates to install the latest antimalware definitions.
3. Select "Quick Scan".
If Windows Security cannot detect malware, select Scan Options and perform a full scan or an offline scan of Microsoft Defender.
Disable Third-Party Shell Extensions
File explorer freezes or crashes only when right clicking on items? This is usually caused by conflicting context menu items in third-party programs. Use a program like ShellExView to disable them.
1. Download and open ShellExView on your computer.
2. Open the Options menu and select Hide All Microsoft Extensions.
3. Select all third-party extensions and select Disable Selected Items.
If the explorer starts working correctly, reactivate each deactivated shell extension until you encounter the problematic item. Then update the appropriate program (which might fix the problem), disable the extension, or remove it from your computer.
Reset File Associations
Incorrect, conflicting or broken file associations in Windows 10 are another cause that leads to freezes and crashes related to File Explorer. Try to reset them.
1. Open the "Start" menu and select "Settings".
2. Select Apps> Default Apps.
3. Select "Reset".
Resetting file associations also reverts default programs (such as the web browser) to the standard Microsoft applications, so you might have to reconfigure your preferences.
Run SFC Scan and DISM Tool
If the "Windows Explorer is not responding" and "Windows Explorer has stopped working" errors continue to appear, we recommend running System File Checker and DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management). This should fix File Explorer related issues caused by corrupted system files.
Run System File Checker
1. Press Windows + X to open the Power User Menu. Then select Windows PowerShell (Admin).
2. Enter the following command:
sfc / scannow
3. Press Enter to run the System File Checker tool.
For best results, repeat the SFC scan a total of three times.
Run DISM Tool
1. Open an elevated Windows PowerShell console.
2. Run the following command:
DISM / Online / Cleanup-Image / CheckHealth
3. If DISM finds any problems, run the two commands below:
DISM / Online / Cleanup-Image / ScanHealth
DISM / Online / Cleanup-Image / RestoreHealth
Windows Explorer Still Not Working: What Else?
The above fixes should have helped you resolve issues that are causing File Explorer to become unresponsive. If not, here are some additional fixes you can try:
- Repeat the above fixes after booting Windows 10 in Safe Mode.
- Delete temporary files on Windows 10
- Perform a clean boot.
- Use System Restore to restore Windows 10.
- Restore Windows 10 to factory settings.
Going forward, updating your operating system is the best way to minimize potential File Explorer issues.
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