how to cleanly start and stop explorer.exe

If you are running Windows XP and want a cmd prompt with no strange environment variables set, do the following: CTRL+SHIFT+ESC->File->CTRL+New Task (Run...)
This will open a cmd window with only the basics.  This is useful if you have killed Explorer and need to restart it.  Explorer will keep the environment of the cmd window that started it. 

If you want to cleanly shutdown Explorer without having it automatically restart: Start->Shutdown->CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+Cancel.

Comments (37)

  1. Anon says:

    Your second tip is wonderfully obscure. Is that by design? For kiosks or security somehow? Are these documented anywhere? I use CTRL+SHIFT+ESC a lot, but didn’t know about the second one.

  2. jeffdav says:

    It is mainly for people who want to shutdown explorer to test their plug-ins.

  3. jeffdav says:

    It is mainly for people who want to shutdown explorer to test their plug-ins.

  4. Jon Galloway says:

    Great tips. Thanks. I use CTRL+SHIFT+ESC->File->New Task (Run…)->explorer.exe to restart explorer if I succeed killing it (pretty hard to do now days, but I do manage).

  5. Mike Dunn says:

    CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+Cancel has been around since Win 95, it’s useful when debugging shell extensions, and you need to kill the shell so it unloads your extension’s DLL so you can rebuild it.

  6. cha says:

    About half of the blogs you link to, do not render correctly on non-IE browsers. What happened to the web-standards?

    Anyway, your blog is very informative and it renders fine in Mozilla Firefox.

  7. jeffdav says:

    <humor>The great thing about web standards is you have so many to choose from.</humor>

    Seriously though, I am not sure. I don’t admin any of them… I just use the tools Microsoft provides.

  8. Tonetheman says:

    Excellent post! This is great stuff… one of the MS guys like you could or should write a book about this type of stuff.

  9. Roger Fielding says:

    <humor>The great thing about web standards is you have so many to choose from.</humor>

    WHAT??? Does Microsoft think it is replacing the W3C now? Hmmm… sems you have a monopoly on arrogance too. Can’t wait for Bill to claim credit for the work of Sir Tim Burners Lee.

    In case you are referring to ActiveX, the secret ingredient that Microsoft itself said to disable entirely for security reasons, how the hell is that a standard? Was it adopted by the W3C? Was there ever an open standard for it?

    For it to be a standard, it generally helps if the governing body FOR web standards actually declares it as such.

  10. Allan Gotthelf says:

    My Dell desktop has seemed sluggish for some time. I have no idea where to start to find the problem. I’ve run various parts of System Works 2004, no obvious signs. Under System Information, Memory tab, I did notice a very strange looking file name in the 32bit Library. It’s the first entry under 32bit Library. It’s just a long run of symbols, east Asian looking – but possibly wingding symbols. Two of them repeating. The first looks sort of like a water can, the second like a circle (or partial differential equation cursive d) with quote marks over it. Size: 356KB. The last line "Used by" clicks to: EXPLORER.EXE

    Is this anything to worry about?


  11. Roger Fielding says:

    Heh… You’ve just experienced the fantastic security built into IE. I suggest switching to Mozilla. You’ll find you get far fewer viruses.

  12. Allan Gotthelf says:

    The string of symbols I referred to are actually the male and female symbols, separate by a dash: <male>-<femaile>-<male>-<femaile>- etc. I did a system report via Norton SystemWorks and it stopped at that point.


  13. owen says:

    aren’t these blogs aimed at developers? i think you can safely assume they know how to use the task manager

  14. jeffdav says:

    I did assume most readers would be familiar with the task manager, which is why I talked about how to cleanly start and stop Explorer, and how to get a cmd window that is free of environment clutter. Thanks for reading!

  15. a fish says:

    "WHAT??? Does Microsoft think it is replacing the W3C now?"

    Indeed! The alt attribute is REQUIRED on the humor element. You may think it’s just meaningless pedantry, but what of your humor impaired visitors? Will you just turn them away? We have standards for a reason!

  16. Susan J says:

    As mentioned in your earlier post….yes I did "Google" explorer.exe….and normally would not have done so … because I do know what it is; however, recently my task manager is showing 2 explorer.exe running and sucking up lots of memory….and since this is the first time I have seen (Two) instances running I was very curious and rather than MS-KB I thought I would try a shorter route….Alas, still no answer to my ???…Should there be 2 Instances of explorer.exe ?

    Thanks….and very interesting blog site…:)

  17. jeffdav says:

    It is normal to sometimes have two instances of explorer.exe. They can run in seperate processes. Depending on the version of Windows and various plug-ins that may or may not be loaded into the Explorer process, it can take up different amounts of memory. How much is it taking?

  18. NickSun says:

    I click on ‘my computer’ and i get the message ‘explorer.exe has generated errors and will be closed by windows. You will need to restart the program. An error log is being created.’ I click OK then my screen flashes. This problem will not go away. Any suggestions?

  19. Yogi says:

    I am not able to find the reason why "explorer.exe" causes my computer not to boot. I have to use control-alt-del and kill the process manually once and then reboot the computer. It then starts working fine. But it does cost me about 10 minutes every time I have to switch my computer on.

    Any suggestion how to do away with this problem



  20. XP: avviare explorer.exe e arrestare

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