9 Ways to Fix File Explorer Not Opening on Windows

File Explorer is the standard file manager tool that makes it easy to browse your files, folders, and drives. However, like any other program, File Explorer is not free from problems. An example of this is when File Explorer refuses to open.


Normally, you should be able to resolve such issues by restarting your PC. Therefore, this is the first thing you should try. If that doesn’t work, you can use the following troubleshooting tips to resolve the issue.


1. Try alternative methods to open File Explorer

In Windows, there are several ways to open File Explorer. So if you are having trouble opening File Explorer from the Start menu or the taskbar, you can try other methods.

Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box. Type explorer in the Open field and press Enter.

You can also try opening File Explorer via a command line tool. Open the search menu to launch Command Prompt or PowerShell. Type in the console Explorer and then press Enter.

Alternatively, you can use the Win + E hotkey to open File Explorer and see if it works.

If none of these methods work, go to the next solution.

2. Restart the Windows Explorer process

Windows Explorer is a process responsible for providing the graphical user interface (GUI) for various utilities, including File Explorer. If the process encounters problems, File Explorer may not open or become unresponsive.

In most cases, you can resolve any issues with the Windows Explorer process by restarting it. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to open Task Manager.
  2. In the Processes tab, search Windows Explorer. Right click on it and select Restarting.
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Your taskbar will disappear for a few seconds before reappearing. After that, you should be able to open File Explorer on Windows.

3. Optimize Advanced System Settings

If restarting Windows Explorer doesn’t help, you can try optimizing some advanced system settings on your PC. Here’s how:

  1. Press Win + S to open the search menu.
  2. Type in Control panel and press Enter.
  3. Navigate to System > Advanced System Settings.
  4. Below the Performance section, click on the Settings knob.
  5. Switch to the Advanced tab and select the Programs choice.
  6. Click on the Change button under Virtual Memory.
  7. Check the box with the text Automatically manage paging file size for all drives.
  8. Touch Apply.

After this, restart your PC and try opening File Explorer again.

4. Clear File Explorer History

File Explorer keeps track of all your searches so you can quickly access your files and folders. However, once this data is out of date, it hurts more than it helps. You can try clearing File Explorer’s history to see if that helps.

  1. Open the Home menusearch file explorer optionsand select the first result that appears.
  2. Below the General tab, click the Clear button next to Clear File Explorer History.

Restart your PC and see if you can open File Explorer.

5. Run the System Maintenance Troubleshooter

The System Maintenance Troubleshooter can automatically detect and fix problems with desktop shortcuts, disk volume, file paths, and so on. While Windows runs this troubleshooter regularly to ensure smooth operation, you can also run it manually if you run into issues like the one discussed here.

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Follow these steps to run the System Maintenance Troubleshooter.

  1. Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type check in the text field and press Enter.
  3. Go to Solving a problem.
  4. Select the System and security choice.
  5. click on System maintenance and follow the on-screen instructions to run the troubleshooter.

6. Run the SFC and DISM scans

Such problems can occur if certain system files on your PC are missing or damaged. System File Checker is a handy utility on Windows that can help you recover such system files. Here’s how to run it.

  1. Press Win + X and select Terminal (Administrator) from the list.
  2. Select Yes when the User Account Control (UAC) prompt appears.
  3. In the console, run the following command:

sfc /scannow

After the scan is complete, enter the following command to run the DISM (or Deployment Image Servicing and Management) scan. It will try to detect and fix any issues with the system image.

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

DISM connects to Windows Update to download and replace corrupted files if necessary. Please note that it is normal for the scanning process to appear to be in between. Do not close the terminal window and let the process complete.

7. Check for malware

If you’re still having trouble opening File Explorer, there’s a chance your PC is infected by malware. You can run a full system scan on your PC to rule out this possibility.

Here’s how to scan your computer with the built-in Windows Security app:

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  1. Type Windows Security in the search bar and press Enter.
  2. Navigate to Virus and threat protection tab.
  3. click on Scan options.
  4. Select Full scan and hit the Scan now knob.

The app will perform a thorough scan of your computer’s files and notify you if any threats are found. You can also scan your PC with a third-party antivirus of your choice.

8. Install Windows Updates

A Windows build with errors can also lead to such anomalies. If so, upgrading to a newer (hopefully more stable) version should help more often. You can check for pending updates by visiting the Windows Update section in the Settings app.

Download and install any system updates and see if you can access File Explorer.

9. Reset your PC

Finally, if none of the above solutions work, you may have to go for the nuclear option to reset your PC. However, before you do this, you should backup all your data. If you need help, see our guide on how to back up your Windows PC to the cloud for more information.

Once you’ve backed up all your important files, you can start resetting your PC. To learn more about the different methods of factory resetting your Windows computer, please refer to our guide and follow the steps listed there.

Troubleshooting File Explorer on Windows

We hope that one of the solutions mentioned above worked and that you can access File Explorer again. However, if you are tired of such recurring problems, there are plenty of file explorer alternatives for Windows.

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