Fix: Desktop does not refresh automatically in Windows 7 / 8

The Desktop or Explorer window or folder will automatically refresh itself when you make a change to its contents. This could be creating a new shortcut, creating or saving a new file or folder in it, and so on.

But at times, you may find that the desktop or the window may not auto-refresh and to see the changes, you have to manually Refresh it, either by pressing F5 or via the context menu.

Desktop does not refresh automatically

If you find that you need to frequently refresh the desktop, you can follow these steps to try and fix the problem.

Desktop does not refresh automatically

Open Registry Editor and navigate to the following registry key:


Here right-click and search for dontrefresh. If you find it, and if it has a value set to 1, change its value to 0. If you do not see it, create it and give it a value 0.

This is known to have helped fix the problem in most cases. If it does not, here are a few other suggestions:

1] Use ShellExView from Nirsoft and disable third-party shell extensions which may be obstructing the smooth functioning of Windows Explorer. This may be a trial-and-error method.

2] Restore the default Explorer Settings. To do so, open Folder Options and under the General tab, press Restore Defaults. Click Apply and Exit.

3] Some have found that deleting the thumbnail cache and/or rebuilding the icon cache has helped them resolve the issue.

This problem appears to be quite common – so much so that there is even an acronym made for it: WEDR – Windows Explorer Doesn’t Refresh! So the BSOD now has a companion! :)

Microsoft has released some hotfixes to resolve such issues at KB960954 and KB823291. Please check IF they are applicable to your operating system and situation before you decide to download and apply them.

UPDATE: Please also see the comment by Truth101/Guest below.

Check this post if you find that your Recycle Bin does not refresh correctly.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse aka HappyAndyK is an end-user Windows enthusiast, a Microsoft MVP in Windows, since 2006, and the Admin of Please create a System Restore Point before trying out any software & be careful about any third-party offers while installing freeware. Add me on Google+.
  • hkb

    The word ‘dontrefresh’ is not even in my registry.

  • hkb

    Win7 ult. 64bit…..

  • Anonymous

    where is dontrefresh ?

  • Anand Khanse

    Are you facing this problem? And still you do not find dontrefresh in your registry?

  • m041633n

    yup me too and waiting for this fix for a long time

  • Xtreme365

    Now fixed. Hi ppl, i had the same problem.
    I just go to folder option move some options , and an reset all menu by default.
    Now auto-refresh work :)

  • jeremiah

    hey evry 1 i have a problem but this 1 is deifrent let me tell u
    1st up on the desktop itself i may have click refresh to much by accident but anyways i think now all it dose is refreshes desktop and internet explorer as well for
    all the websites if any1 has any salutions let me know pls

  • Swiki

    It happened to me yesterday and I decided to restore my system to an earlier time :)

  • Avfearn

    the word dontrefresh isn’t in my regisrty either

  • Valid

    There’s no such registry key

  • Asdf


  • tralala

    Thnx dude, worked for me. I did: Organize > Folder and search options > Clicked on restore defaults button and since then it worked again :D

  • csay

    it works for me :)

  • Cipher Sru

    The registry key does not exist, this “fix” is worthless…

  • Truth101

    Here is an incredibly simple solution that worked forme. It may work for you as well:

    – In Windows Explorer: choose Tools, Folder Options > Click the Search tab
    > Check or uncheck ANY option

    – Apply.

    – If this solves your problem, you can revert to your original setting and the
    problem will remain solved.

    Microsoft obfuscates this problem by instructing you to delete your profile, update your bios, disable your antivirus, reverting to a restore point, etc. If the incredibly simple solution above helps just one person avoid the Microsoft nonsense, it is well worth the time cross-posting this solution to a few popular sites.

    Microsoft should have identified and solved this problem four years ago. This incredibly simple solution clearly demonstrates why Microsoft Windows Explorer should not be trusted for the management of sensitive documents for law enforcement, health care, national security and other critical industries.

  • Mark

    Thanks, that seems to work for me.

  • Mark

    Why suggest hotfixes that don’t even apply to Windows 7 or 8?

  • Anand Khanse

    There may be people who may be using older versions of Windows, and who may land up on this page. The links are meant to help them.

  • Mark

    The title of this article is “Desktop does not refresh automatically in Windows 7 | 8″. Perhaps you should consider changing it. While you’re at it, you might want to include the fix mentioned by Truth101 and tralala as that one does actually work.

  • wirelesscord

    Worked. Even simpler than the regfix (and my registry do not seem to have the key anyway).

    Pretty ridiculous bug, especially if this is still in Win8 too.

  • John Vic Razer Geimer

    This one fix mine .. Thank you very much !
    And also how this error occur ? So for next time I can prevent it. :D

  • not mark

    shut up mark

  • codiddle

    I think the cause is NVidia drivers. Need confirmation, relase date 03/10/2014 GeForce 335.23.

  • wirelesscord

    There might be several reasons for this but I doubt that’s one of the them. I have Intel HD4000 and had this issue.

  • t0tal3d

    If you read the instructions above, you will see you need to create the key if it does not exist.

  • awdfbqa

    neither restoring defaults nor unchecking any option as above, has worked for me. F5 is dead

  • Pete

    Create it where? Just in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTCLSID? That makes no sense.

  • Pete

    Create it where? Just in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTCLSID?

  • Ellen

    Thank you! That did work and the problem has been driving me nuts!

  • cipher

    It does not say to create the key…. Still worthless…

  • David

    Worked for me!!!

  • darkmagix

    Yes this works everyone. Thanks.

  • Appie

    This fixed it for me:

    Open explorer –> right click on Documents –> in the documents library pane click the Restore Defaults button –> click Apply
    Problem solved :)

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