Restart Explorer

How to Restart Explorer in Vista
This will show you how to do a manual restart of explore.exe. Doing this acts like a quick computer restart.
How to Restart Explorer in Vista

information   Information
The executable module in Vista that contains the Start Menu, Taskbar, desktop and file manager user interfaces. EXPLORER.EXE is a Windows process that runs automatically at startup and remains an active process. If you have a Explorer error, or you made a change to the system that requires a computer restart to apply, and you do not want to wait for the whole computer to restart to do it, then this gives you a quick restart without restarting the whole system.
Note   Note
If you are using Windows Dreamscene or Stardock DeskScapes, then you will get a Dreamscene failure error and the desktop background will go blank when Explorer.exe is restarted. To fix this, simply select any normal wallpaper, then select a Windows Dreamscene or Stardock Deskscapes Dream.
Tip   Tip
Doing a log off and log on also acts as a quick restart.
warning   Warning
Do not use these methods for a required restart after a program or Windows Update installation. A full computer restart is usually necessary for this.

Through the Start Menu

1. To Close Explorer.exe
A) Open the Start Menu.​
B) Press and hold Ctrl+Shift and right click on a empty area of the Start menu. (See screenshot below)​
C) Releas Ctrl+Shift and click on Exit Explorer.​

2. To Restart Explorer.exer
A) Do steps 1 and 3 in Option Two below.​

Through Task Manager

1. Open Task Manager.​
NOTE: Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc, or right click on the taskbar and click Task Manager.​
2. To Close Explorer.exe
A) Click on the Processes tab. (See screenshot below)​
B) Click on explorer.exe and click on the End Process button.​

C) Click on End Process in the confirmation prompt. (See screenshot below)​

D) You will now notice that Explorer has stopped.​
NOTE: The taskbar, deskop icons, and any open Windows Explorer windows are now gone.​

3. To Restart Explorer.exe
A) Click on File in Task Manager. (See screenshot for step 3 above)​
B) Click on New Task (Run...).​
C) Type explorer.exe and click OK. (See screenshot below)​

D) You will notice Explorer restarting.​
NOTE: The taskbar and desktop icons will be back.​

4. Close Task Manager.​
That's it,



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New Member
we can gracefully restart the explorer.exe by holding ctrl+shift and rightclick on an empty area on the startmenu and clicking exit explorer!!


Staff member
Hello Sagarun, and welcome to Vista Forums.

Thank you for sharing. The tutorial has been updated to include this.



New Member
This works perfectly, and reinstated my Netword and Volume by allowing me to select the relataive icons in the taskbar notification screen from the start menu. However, when I re-boot they are gone again. I have downloaded and tried "reset notifications icons" as well as "enable network" and enable volume" in relative tutorials. These do not restore the icons. Will I have to restart explorer-exe each time I boot!


Staff member
Hello Sonia,

I'm sorry, I thought that you had it sorted from your last post.

As a test uninstall and reinstall your network and audio drivers to see if that may help in case they may have been corrupted.


New Member
I also thought it was sorted..Now icons only show if I restart explorer.exe (at least I have a work around). Will check the drivers and post again. Many thanks