Fix: Windows explorer.exe does not start at startup

I have realized that corruption in the Windows registry can lead to all sorts of problems. Some of you may have faced this problem, that after you logged on to your computer, you might have seen just a blank screen. No desktop, no Taskbar! This may happen because explorer.exe which is supposed to start-up automatically, did not start at all. While some registry error might have caused this issue, it is certainly possible the problem could be due to some virus infection too, which blocks the explorer.exe from running.


In such situations where your Windows 7 | 8 or Windows Vista explorer.exe fails to start-up automatically on every boot, here are a few steps you can try out:

Windows explorer.exe does not start

1) Start Windows in Safe Mode and see if your explorer.exe will start in safe mode. If it does, then obviously something is interfering with its normal start in regular mode. I suggest you scan for malware in safe mode, remove infections if any and reboot. Also check if any add-ons may be interfering with its starting up. Often, 3rd-party shell extensions can cause Explorer to crash on particular actions. Several programs add items to the right-click context menu. To see them in detail, you may download the freeware utility ShellExView. More here.

2) See if a System Restore helps you.

3) Open command prompt as admin and Run sfc /scannow.

4) Back up your Windows Registry first, and then open regedit and navigate to the following :

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon


In Winlogon, on the right side, you should notice a value called “Shell“. In the RHS Pane, ensure that the default string value of : Shell is explorer.exe.

Double-click this value. Make sure only ‘explorer.exe‘ is given the value of Shell. If you see anything else there, simply delete it and leave only ‘explorer.exe’ .

Exit the Registry Editor.

Restart the computer for the changes to take effect.

Post ported from WVC

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+.
  • Meena Bassem

    does that work for windows 8.1?

  • Anand Khanse

    Yes, it should. :)

  • Meena Bassem

    well, what actually worked for me was replacing the corrupted Windows.UI.Immersive.dll from another windows installation and replacing the corrupted files.

  • Anand Khanse

    Oh that’s good! Thanks for the useful feedback. Hope it helps someone someday. :)

  • Snetterton

    No help for me. My RegEdit settings are OK according to this. I have to start Task Manager and start Explorer in Administrator mode to get it to start. This is annoying, but some features don’t work when explorer is in administrator mode, and I can’t turn that off to fix other problems.

  • Arthur

    Another way to open windows:
    Immediately on starting computer, tap F8 repeatedly until “Repair Your Computer” shows. Select it. — “System recovery” shows/ select “US” and then “next” —– System recovery again shows. Either enter your password or, if none, select “OK”.
    On next menu select “Windows Memory Diagnostic” and choose “restart now”
    NOW WAIT 7-8 MINUTES while it does its thing.
    When it is done it will reopen windows on your desktop with everything working, possibly faster than before.

  • Aditya

    That did not work. Instead everytime after startup you can press ctrl+shift+esc then run the task explorer.

  • Jonathan

    Thanks a ton. This worked for me.

  • Jose

    i open regedit but the root in HKLM just show current version alone, winlogon or other dont exist in that carpet

  • Esmond Mazorodze

    your post helped me a lot but i found out that i did not have a shell file in my register, so i simply added it as shown on your photo, restated my pc and walla my explorer was up and running again

  • Anand Khanse

    Yes, you did the right thing and glad it helped you.

  • koukou

    guys my brother has modify the explorerframe.dll and remplace it with another now when windows startup there is nothin no dektop ne icon no nothing exept a window show’s that explorer.exe has a probleme

  • Gayathri

    hello I scan by using Sfc/scan the scan completed successfully and got the message that it repaired all problem, then i checked my registry I found shell with explorer.exe , but after restart the same happen blank black screen … Help me

  • Anand Khanse

    Run System File Checker. It will replace the changed or corrupted system file with the original one.

  • Anand Khanse

    Does explorer.exe start when you boot in Safe Mode.

  • Gayathri

    yes sir…

  • Anand Khanse

    Then it could be some add-on causing this issue. Use freeware ShellExView to check each one. See Point 9 here:

  • e i

    Much appreciation for your help, Anand. It helped us out so much with the computer running Windows XP. Thank you.

  • Anand Khanse

    Glad to be of help. :)

  • Hitesh

    Something Changes Registry to cmd.exe /k start cmd.exe everytime… even If I change it to Exporer.exe

  • bernabe lopez

    Mine had the same problem and i did system restore. It definitely works. Thanks for your help…

  • rozzaq

    I’ve try to boot into safe mode, but same problem came, explorer.exe didn’t start, please help

  • ???? ????

    thanks sir it work on my computer


    Anand, a friends 2 month old, factory loaded Windows 8 PC shows a black screen upon logging in. When I tried to start explore.exe through the Task Manager, it says error. He can still access programs/files though the Browse option in Run New Task, but Desktop, Taskbar, and Windows Explorer will not initiliaze. He says he did not download any Freeware, but his PC is loaded with it. Run Control Panel and remove all unnecessary programs?

  • Anand Khanse

    Start in Safe Mode. Disable IE addons as well as Explorer addons. Something is interfering with its starting properly.
    Most OEM or Factory loaded PC’s come with lot of crapware installed. Open Control Panel and uninstall all unnecessary programs. Restart PC and see if it helps.

  • Tushar

    Thank worked..

  • Hendrik

    If you can’t start in safe mode can I do it in normal mode because I can still access everything because it just has a blank screen

  • Anand Khanse

    Sure you can do it that way too.

  • Tami

    That’s what I have been doing but I am looking for a permanent solution.

  • Sofa Zuhad Mudawam

    waa it works ! but then it knows that my windows is not genuine :)

  • Creddy

    Thanx guyz! It worked like magic for me…been trying to fix this prob for a ling time.

  • Robin

    I have the same problem, any solutions from anyone?

  • Starbuck

    how can i do that in windows xp

  • David Beorn

    Explorer will just plain NOT run – I can get taskmgr to run and run almost any command from there, but explorer.exe will not start — any suggestions. I had the “FBI” Warning message that was some kind of malware, but I got rid of that (I think). It won’t let you go anywhere – it just runs from the startup folder. Now when I let my system boot “normally” it just throws up the wallpaper and stays there, till I CTRL-ALT-DEL

  • Jonas Kirsis

    How can i get in registry editor if every second error “explorer.exe has stopped working” appears?

  • Anand Khanse

    Try in Safe Mode or in Clean Boot State.

  • Amit Kumar

    yes it will work for windows 8.1

  • Devon Thomson

    for mine if i change it, it changes it back at boot, any help?

  • Devin the Doge

    My problem is that I can’t A: Use the Internet unless I use my Dad’s account, and B: I can start “WallpaperHost.exe” from Task Manager, but not the taskbar, and I can’t even play ROBLOX right now!

  • Devin the Doge

    I almost forgot: The PC that I’m using to do this right now is a Microsoft Surface RT tablet and the PC I am having this problem with is a Dell PC I got for Christmas.

  • Maiwand khan

    hello mr anand sir i might need ur help regarding this explorer problem.
    i did this sfc/scannow but that didnt fixed the problem and i also checked my registry the shell already has explorer.exe nothing else. what do you suggest should i do ?
    i dont wont to lose my data its in my window’s drive so i cant install a fresh copy of windows either .
    or should i install a new windows with that option that saves old windows files in a folder named” windows old files.

  • Anand Khanse

    Does it start when you start Windows in Safe Mode? Does explorer start when you boot Windows in Clean Boot State? If it does, then definitely some other software is interfering.

  • Howard Foohy

    Windows explorer says “the remote call procedure failed and did not execute”

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