Restarting your system is often the first bit of advice you get when Windows 10 acts up. In fact, if any device acts up, a restart is the first thing you should try to fix it. That said, if a restart doesn’t fix a problem on Windows 10, you can try restarting Explorer.exe. Explorer.exe is the process that is responsible for displaying most of the UI elements on Windows 10 including the Start menu, the task bar, the action center, and more. Here’s how you can restart Explorer.exe on Windows 10.
There are two ways to restart Explorer.exe. You can restart it from Task Manager, and you can restart it from Command Prompt.
To restart Explorer.exe from Task Manager, open it with admin rights. Go to the Processes tab, and look for Windows Explorer. Select it and click the Restart button at the bottom right. The Taskbar on your screen will disappear for a moment but it will come back in a few seconds.
If you can’t access Task Manager, or would prefer to just use Command Prompt to restart Explorer.exe, you can.
Open Command Prompt with admin rights, and run the following command to kill Explorer.exe.
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taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
When you run this command, the taskbar will disappear in addition to other UI elements. They will return when you start Explorer.exe again. To start it again, run the following command;
When you run this command, the UI elements that disappeared when you killed the Explorer.exe process will return.
Restarting Explorer.exe isn’t always something you do to fix problems. Often changes that you make to your system that require a system restart or the user logging out and logging in again can be implemented by restarting Explorer.exe. This won’t work for all changes but in some cases it will do the trick.
Restarting Explorer.exe on Windows 10 is the equivalent of relaunching Finder on macOS. It’s needed to implement certain changes on the OS that may not require a system restart but do require a few critical system process to be killed, and run again.
If certain elements on your screen don’t load when you boot to your desktop e.g., the system tray or the search bar don’t appear, restarting the Explorer process can force them to show up. If that doesn’t do the trick, it’s possible that the elements that aren’t showing up are doing so because of other reasons. You can try running the troubleshooting tool in the Settings app to see if that fixes the problem, or you can try creating a new user, or resetting Windows 10.