Windows explorer.exe does not start or open 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 Windows File Explorer from running.


In such situations where your Windows 10/8/7/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. If you need to manually troubleshoot, you may perform a Clean Boot.

2) 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.

3) See if a System Restore helps you.

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

5) 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.

Related read: Windows File Explorer crashes, freezes or has stopped working.

Post ported from WVC

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.


  1. does that work for windows 8.1?

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

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Aditya

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

  7. Jonathan

    Thanks a ton. This worked for me.

  8. Jose

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

  9. 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

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

  11. 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

  12. 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

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

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

  15. Gayathri

    yes sir…

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

  17. e i

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

  18. Glad to be of help. 🙂

  19. Hitesh

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

  20. bernabe lopez

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

  21. rozzaq

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

  22. ???? ????

    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?

  24. 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.

  25. Tushar

    Thank worked..

  26. 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

  27. Sure you can do it that way too.

  28. Tami

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

  29. Sofa Zuhad Mudawam

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

  30. Creddy

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

  31. Robin

    I have the same problem, any solutions from anyone?

  32. Starbuck

    how can i do that in windows xp

  33. 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

  34. Jonas Kirsis

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

  35. Try in Safe Mode or in Clean Boot State.

  36. Amit Kumar

    yes it will work for windows 8.1

  37. Devon Thomson

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

  38. 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!

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. Howard Foohy

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

  43. vinay

    sir ye hum karke dekh liya phir bhi jab hum reststsrs com. karte hai to phir se icon hide ho jaate hai iske liye kuch btaye my pc is windows xp

  44. Jack

    Dear Anand,

    I Facing same problem in windows 7,but my My Task Manager aslo not start so how can i open registry Please Help

  45. Can you press Ctrl+Alt+Del keys? You could open Task Manage then…

  46. pravin jadhav

    i am pravin jadhav i am flow your steps but not solve explorer problem

  47. Use task manager sortcut
    Ctrl + shift + esc then open explorer

  48. Jiib

    So after I log in it goes to black screen with mouse cursor (no explorer.exe running) When I log in as guest or safe mode I am fine. This has something to do specifically with my logon (admin) the only non guest account on my PC. I was am able to get to task manager from black screen with
    ctrl+alt+delete, then I close out “Windows explorer” and run
    expolrer.exe and bam im golden. My registry is fine, and I have run
    AVAST and cant find anything wrong with pre boot scan or full scan……
    any help?

  49. James G

    Maybe a couple extra points may give clues:
    Boot in regular user has no problems
    Boot in admin comes up Black with curser
    Find Windows Explorer.exe in processes but if I stop task, then restart it, it works fine.
    I do have an annoying “Windows Script Host” window

    Can not find script file

    Once or twice an hour it will dong and appear. Goes away by itself.
    This thing did start when I got caught up in a MS Account creation.

  50. Alvina

    I have tried all possible ways as the above, my shell is only of having value explorer.exe, but still having the same problem. Everytime, I need to go to task manger and have to run explorer and that’s is bothersome.

  51. Zyan910 .

    doesnt work
    when i click F8 nothing happens
    on windows 8

  52. Zyan910 .

    this happened to me after installing
    Better Explorer

  53. Zyan910 .

    I have made a reset point but i don’t know how to revert to it

  54. Uninstall Better Explorer, restart PC, Run system file checker. See if it helps.

  55. Zyan910 .

    Look i have windows 8 right now and u asked me to reset to reset point. i did that everything came up but the icon for recycle bin was blank, there was nothing there. So i tried to revert to reset point again and when i ran system restore, it showed some error and said this applications will now shut down. Pls help me 🙂
    I really appreciate it

  56. Swati Sharma

    I am facing the same issue, but I can’t even open the registry editor or msconfig file as they close as soon as opened. What do I do?

  57. See of you can open them in safe mode.

  58. Yep, I’m the same.

  59. abdullah abbas

    click the + sign with current version and find winlogon in there

  60. Charles Wesley

    Nothing here has worked for me. can’t access system restore, have no disk to use to access (IE, no Vista PE), SCANNOW did not work to fix the problems. I CAN access in Safe mode, but can’t run any virus checker (Claims no end points), The Ultimate Boot CD that I have doesn’t work.

    I’ve scanned the registry, no problems there. I just cannot get past that black screen with arrow.

    I was told to download a file (From Microsoft a BDD-2007), but I get an error page (file does not exist)

    Any options short of junking the computer?

  61. Charles Wesley

    It took a while. hours of patience, but finally figured out the trouble. I was finally able (about 10 tries) to get something. Seems that the restore points were accessible via another method (And I can’t for the life of me find it again!) I couldn’t run a virus check, even after setting up the hidden Admin function.

    The problem was a faulty update for Vista. After I managed to access the restore points, 35 minutes later, it was functional. (Yeah, 35 minutes. Some of these desktop towers are old and slow!)

    A problem this morning was due to a power issue. (brief outage caused a difficulty in Network and caused that PC to revert. )

  62. Alex Bragin

    What if it doesn’t start in safemode ?

  63. Use freeware ShellExView. Disable all its addons and see if it helps. Else you have need to repair your Windows installation.

  64. Alex Bragin

    What should i disable out of all of them ?

  65. Engr Unyime Edet Lxg

    I have performed the Windows Memory Diagnostics; i have loaded my computer in safe mode, but i still have the same result – blank screen with my cursor only showing on my screen, unless i do a combination of Ctrl+Alt+Del > Task Manager > explorer.exe. How can i fix this issue without having to reformat my PC?

  66. anmol

    My explorer doesnt start even in safe mode ..pls help

  67. karl

    i have windows 8 and I have the black screen of death ive tried what was written but it was already there in the regedit ive tryed so many things I have managed to get start explorer but when I restart it happens again hope you can help

  68. Andrea Bellucci

    I checked “Shell” (explorer.exe) as it is written and it is ok but when i restart windows the problem is always the same: black screen. No desktop, no Taskbar! How can I fix this bug?

  69. Colin Streitmatter

    For me what happened was that when o turned it on a did not start up right error message popped up so I clicked on retry and then now it doesn’t display anything only my cursor and my computer isn’t responding to my keyboard

  70. YOURNA

    How can you start Windows in safe mode if it does not allow you to?

  71. Al3

    Well-written Article, Anand.
    If nothing works, then you should probably perform a Windows Repair install.
    But most of the times this isn’t necessary as it is often caused by viruses or programs.

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