How to restart the explorer shell in Windows XP

If you have landed yourself here chances are you already know why you want to do this, but for those who don’t here’s why:

When installing a new application, they sometimes require you to restart for them to work, often just restarting the Windows explorer shell will be sufficient for it to work as expected.

Normally most people just kill it via Task Manager, but this can have adverse effects on your system (such as data loss), so here’s how to do it properly:

  1. Go to Start -> “Turn Off Computer”
  2. At the “Turn off computer” window, hold down CTRL+ALT+SHIFT and click on “Cancel”.
    • When this is done, explorer should cleanly exit and your start menu will have gone.
  3. Hit CTRL+SHIFT+ESC to open Task Manager.
  4. Go to File -> “New Task (Run…)”.
  5. Enter: “explorer” in the “Open” box, and press OK.
    • If your start menu appears, explorer has restarted successfully, otherwise try again or reboot.


1 Comment »

  1. Qphoria said,

    January 25, 2009 @ 4:11 pm

    Hmmm I never knew about Ctrl+alt+shift+cancel. Like you said, I usually kill the explorer process and restart it. Very good to know. Thanks!

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