How to fix File Explorer crashes in Windows 10

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Madalina has been a Windows fan ever since she got her hands on her first Windows XP computer. She is interested in all things technology, especially emerging technologies -- AI and DNA computing in... Read more
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  • The File Explorer tool is probably the most used function in the Windows OS, since everything that involves accessing the contents of your PC is done through it.
  • Unfortunately, issues such as improper system settings or incompatible third-party software can cause the File Explorer to crash, and that is precisely what this article is here to talk about.
  • Our website contains a dedicated hub for troubleshooting System Errors, so make sure you visit that as well if there are other Windows 10 issues that are bothering you.
  • For more articles of great interest, visit out Windows 10 Fix page.
fix file explorer crashes
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Microsoft is planning to overhaul File Explorer in the future, but the current version of this file manager app is still plagued by many issues. One of the most common and annoying problems are the frequent crashes users have been complaining about for a long time.

When users try to open a folder, the File Explorer window and taskbar immediately close down and sometimes reopen after a few seconds.

Microsoft has already rolled out a series of cumulative updates aimed at fixing this issue, but many users are still reporting Files Explorer crashes.

Users are complaining about File Explorer crashes in Windows 10

Today I was checking one of my music hard-drives for folders with ‘WCBS’ in the title. It found 19 sub-folders. If I click any one of the found 19, file explorer will close, the task bar on the bottom of screen goes black (with only the Start button and Task view icon showing). After about 20 seconds the screen refreshes (for lack of a better description) and the rest of the 12 displayed icons will shown up.

This happens on all hard-drives and my SSD when a file search done within the windows file explorer.

If you’re experiencing File Explorer crashes, use the workarounds listed below to fix this bug.

How can I fix File Explorer crashes in Windows 10?


  • File Explorer hangs in Windows 10
    • One common problem that can occur with File Explorer are slowdowns.
    • According to users, sometimes File Explorer crashes are preceded by frequent hangs.
  • File Explorer crashes Windows 10 right-click
    • One common variation of this problem is frequent crashes when right-clicking something.
    • This issue usually appears due to third-party apps, but you can fix this problem with one of our solutions.
  • File Explorer Quick Access crashing
    • Another common problem with File Explorer are frequent crashes while using Quick Access feature.
    • This is a common bug, but there are few workarounds you can use to fix it.
  • File Explorer keeps closing
    • Sometimes your File Explorer can close unexpectedly.
    • According to users, the File Explorer closes by itself in random intervals which can be a big problem.
  • Windows 10 Explorer crash loop
    • This is one of the more serious problems since File Explorer can keep crashing constantly.
    • In worst-case scenario, you’ll encounter a crash loop and you won’t be able to use File Explorer at all.
  • File Explorer not responding, not working
    • In some cases File Explorer can stop working completely.
    • Users reported that File Explorer isn’t responding and the only solution is to close it by force.
  • File Explorer won’t open
    • Sometimes File Explorer won’t be able to start at all.
    • This can be a serious problem, but you should be able to fix it by using one of our solutions.
  • File Explorer takes a long time to open
    • Many users reported that their File Explorer is rather slow.
    • According to them, it takes a long time for File Explorer to open, which can be a big problem.
  • File Explorer opens and closes immediately
    • Many users reported that File Explorer keeps closing immediately.
    • According to users, they are unable to start the application due to constant crashes.

1. Run netsh and winsock reset

  1. Type cmd in the search box > right-click Command Prompt > Run as administrator.
    File Explorer hangs in Windows 10
  2. Type netsh in Command Prompt > press Enter.
File Explorer crashes Windows 10 right click

3. Type winsock in Command Prompt > hit Enter.

File Explorer Quick Access crashing

You can also use the entire command netsh winsock reset in a single fix attempt.

2. Give yourself full permission to access the folder content

  1. Launch File Explorer > right-click the folder where the files are stored > select Properties.
    File Explorer keeps closing
  2. Go to Security > click on Advanced.
    Windows 10 Explorer crash loop
  3. Next to the owner label, click on Change > in the new window, click on Advanced.
    • If you already know which username you want to add, simply type it in the field Enter the object name to select.
      File Explorer not responding, not working
  4. If you click on Advanced, a new window will open > click on Find now to see all the groups and users from your computer.
    File Explorer won't open
  5. Select the name or the group from the list > click OK. Save changes.
    File Explorer takes a long time to open
  6. Set full access to the file folder for your account.
    • To do that, right-click on the folder > Properties > Security > Edit.
      File Explorer opens and closes immediately
  7. Set permissions to Full control in Allow column for your account and click Apply and OK to save changes.
    • If your account isn’t on the list, click on Add button to add it.
      File Explorer hangs in Windows 10

This action is necessary because sometimes the Windows 10 Installer doesn’t properly manage file permissions.

If you’re interested in how to take ownership of a file or a folder, check out this in-depth guide that will help you better understand how to do it.

3. Change your File Explorer Options

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter folder options.
  2. Select File Explorer Options from the menu.
    File Explorer crashes Windows 10 right click
  3. Navigate to View tab.
  4. Check Launch folder windows in a separate process and click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    File Explorer Quick Access crashing

If File Explorer crashes on your Windows 10 PC, you might be able to fix the problem simply by changing its settings. According to users, you can fix this problem simply by enabling a single setting.

After doing that, you’ll have another Windows Explorer process that will be related to your currently open directory. This is a simple solution, but users claim that it works, so be sure to try it out.

Did you know that File Explorer folders have separate process windows in Task Manager? Take a quick look on this article to find out more.

4. Change the text size

  1. Press Windows Key + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to the System section.
    File Explorer keeps closing
  3. Locate Scale and layout section and set the font size to 100%. You can also use 200% if you like.
    Windows 10 Explorer crash loop

According to users, File Explorer crashes sometimes if your font size isn’t correct. Windows allows you to adjust the font size in your apps, but sometimes certain values can cause issues with File Explorer.

After making the changes to the text size, the issue should be resolved and File Explorer will stop crashing.

5. Clean File Explorer history

  1. Open File Explorer Options.
    • To see how to open this window, check Solution 3.
  2. When File Explorer Options window opens, navigate to the Privacy section and click the Clear button.
    File Explorer not responding

Sometimes you can fix File Explorer crashes simply by clearing your File Explorer history. Windows keeps a list of recently modified directories, and sometimes this can cause various problems to occur.

After clicking the Clear button the file history will be removed and the problem should be fixed. This is a temporary solution, and if the issue reappears, you’ll need to clear your file history again.

If the File Explorer is slow on Windows 10, check out this guide to make it faster.

6. Don’t display recently used files and folders in Quick access section

  1. Open File Explorer Options.
  2. Locate Privacy section and disable Show recently used files in Quick access and Show frequently used folders in Quick access.
    • Now click on Apply and OK to save changes.
      File Explorer not working

File Explorer has a Quick access section that allows you to quickly access recently opened files or folders. Due to certain issues, Quick access feature can cause File Explorer crashes to occur.

One temporary fix that you can try is to disable recent files and folders from appearing in Quick access section.  After doing that, recent files and frequently used folders won’t appear in Quick access section and the problem should be completely resolved.

Several users suggest that you should also clear your File Explorer history after performing this solution, so be sure to try that as well.

7. Install the latest updates

  1. Open the Settings app and navigate to Update & security section.
    File Explorer won't open
  2. Click on Check for updates button.
    File Explorer takes a long time to open

If File Explorer crashes on your PC, you might be able to fix the problem simply by installing the latest Windows updates. Problems with Windows Explorer can be serious, and the best way to fix them is to install the necessary updates.

Windows downloads the updates automatically in the background, but sometimes you might miss an important update.

Windows will now check for available updates. If updates are available, Windows will download them in the background and install them once your restart your PC.

After updating Windows to the latest version, the problems with File Explorer will be resolved.

8. Disable preview panel and preview handlers

  1. Open any directory in File Explorer.
  2. Go to the View tab and make sure that Preview panel option isn’t selected.
    File Explorer opens and closes immediately
  3. Now open the View tab once again and click on Options.
    File Explorer hangs in Windows 10
  4. Folder Options window will appear.
  5. Go to View tab and uncheck Show preview handlers in preview pane option.
  6. Now click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    File Explorer crashes Windows 10 right click

According to users, File Explorer crashes can occur due to preview pane. Many users use the preview pane to preview files before they open them, but sometimes this feature can cause problems with File Explorer.

To fix the issue, you need to disable preview pane and preview handlers.  After turning these options off, the issue should be resolved completely.

9. Set File Explorer to open This PC

  1. Open File Explorer Options.
  2. When File Explorer Options window opens, set Open File Explorer to This PC and click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    File Explorer Quick Access crashing

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By default, File Explorer will open the Quick Access section. This is default behavior, but sometimes Quick Access can cause File Explorer crashes. To circumvent this problem, users are suggesting to change File Explorer settings to open This PC instead of Quick Access.

After making these changes, File Explorer will open This PC instead of Quick Access by default. This is just a simple workaround, but many users reported that it works for them, so feel free to try it out.

10. Disable or remove your antivirus

Antivirus software is rather important if you want to protect your PC from online threats. Unfortunately, several users reported that their antivirus software caused problems with File Explorer.

According to them, your antivirus can cause File Explorer crashes, so in order to fix the problem, it’s advised to disable your antivirus. If disabling the antivirus doesn’t help, you might have to uninstall it.

If you’re a Norton user, we’ve got a dedicated guide on how to completely remove it from your PC. There is a similar article for McAfee users, as well.

Keep in mind that uninstalling the antivirus isn’t always enough, so you might have to remove all files and registry entries associated with it. The simplest way to do that is to use a dedicated removal tool.

Almost all antivirus companies offer removal tools for their software, but sometimes even they leave behind registry files. Thus, it’s recommended to use dedicated removal tools that you can download from the following links:

After you remove your antivirus, install the latest version and check if that solves the issue.

Alternatively, you can switch to a different antivirus solution. Users reported that AVG, McAfee, and Malwarebytes as the cause for this problem, but other antivirus tools can cause this issue as well.

11. Reinstall your graphics card driver

  1. Press Windows Key + X to open Win + X menu.
  2. Select Device Manager from the list of results.
    File Explorer keeps closing
  3. Locate your graphics card driver, right click it and choose Uninstall device from the menu.
    Windows 10 Explorer crash loop
  4. Check Delete the driver software for this device and click on Uninstall.
    File Explorer not responding, not working

If File Explorer crashes, that might be due to your graphics card driver. To fix the issue, it’s advised to reinstall your graphics card driver.

If you want to remove all files associated with your graphics card, you might want to use Display Driver Uninstaller. This is a free third-party solution that will completely remove all files related to your graphics card.

After removing the driver, you just need to visit your graphics card manufacturer’s website and download the latest driver for your device.

In addition to your graphics card driver, users are also recommending to reinstall both audio and Wi-Fi drivers as well, so you might want to do that.

12. Remove IDT Audio

  1. Open the Settings app and go to Apps section.
    File Explorer won't open
  2. List of all installed apps will appear.
  3. Select IDT Audio from the list and click on Remove.
  4. Now follow the instructions on the screen to remove the application.

If you don’t want to use the Settings app, you can uninstall IDT Audio by doing the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter control panel.
  2. Select Control Panel from the list of results.
    File Explorer takes a long time to open
  3. When Control Panel opens, navigate to Programs and Features.
    File Explorer opens and closes immediately
  4. A list of all installed applications will now appear. Locate IDT Audio and double click it.
  5. Now follow the instructions on the screen to remove it.

Many PC manufactures such as Dell and HP use IDT Audio. This application usually comes preinstalled on PCs, and sometimes it can cause File Explorer crashes to occur. To fix the problem, you need to find and uninstall this application.

Few users claim that you don’t even have to uninstall IDT audio, you can simply change the name of its Control Panel applet.

  1. Start Command Prompt as administrator.
  2. Now enter ren IDTNC64.CPL IDTNC64.CPL.old and press Enter to run it.
    File Explorer hangs in Windows 10

After the command is executed, the problems with IDT Audio and File Explorer should be resolved.

13. Disable problematic context menu items

  1. Download ShellExView and start it.
  2. This is a portable application, so you can run it without installation.
  3. When ShellExView starts, click on Options and choose Filter by Extension Type.
    File Explorer crashes Windows 10 right click
  4. Select Context menu and click on OK.
    File Explorer Quick Access crashing
  5. Now find a third-party application that you want to disable, right-click it and choose Disable Selected Items.
  6. You can also select multiple items if you wish.
    File Explorer keeps closing
  7. A confirmation message will appear.
  8. Click on Yes to disable the selected application.
    Windows 10 Explorer crash loop
  9. After disabling the desired applications, you just need to go to Options > Restart Explorer.
    File Explorer not responding, not working
  10. Confirmation message will appear.
  11. Click on Yes to restart Windows Explorer.
    File Explorer won't open

After Windows Explorer restarts, the disabled applications won’t appear in your context menu anymore and the problem should be resolved. According to users, the following items can cause this problem to appear on your PC, so be sure to disable them:

  • SpyBoy Search & Destroy Shell Extension
  • Carbonite Context Menu
  • AVG antivirus
  • Format Factory
  • Nvidia’s OpenGLshExt Class
  • ConvertToPdf Class by Foxit Software
  • WinRAR

According to users, File Explorer crashes can occur due to certain context menu items. Usually, third-party applications will add their features to your context menu causing this problem to occur whenever you right-click something.

To fix this issue, you need to use ShellExView software. This is a freeware application that allows you to disable context menu items.

These are the common causes of this problem, but other third-party applications can also cause this issue to occur.

14. Remove the malicious files

Sometimes File Explorer crashes can occur due to malicious files. Several users reported this problem because a certain .tmp file in C:/ProgramData/Microsoft/PerformanceMonitor/ was malicious. After removing the problematic file, the issue was resolved completely.

File Explorer crashes can cause many problems on your PC, but we hope you managed to fix the problem by using one of our solutions.

Alternatively, if you’re interested in other File Explorer issues on Windows 10, you can check out this comprehensive guide that has a lot of great solutions for different Explorer problems.

If you have any other suggestions or questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to take a look.

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