How to fix File Explorer problems in Windows 10

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
Passionate about all elements related to Windows and combined with his innate curiosity, Ivan has delved deep into understanding this operating system, with a specialization in drivers and driver troubleshooting. When he's not tackling... Read more
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  • The File Explorer is a useful tool meant to enable easy browsing and management of files and folders stored on a PC running Windows.
  • If one day, the file mangement app decides not to work properly as in not open, not load or crash, your workflow will surely get interrupted. Check out the solutions below to quickly get the file manager up and running again.
  • Looking for in-depth infos on the topic? Go straight to the File Explorer page and get all the right fixes in one place.
  • Whenever you're ready, dig into our Windows 10 errors hub and keep your Windows PC in perfect condition at all times.
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Many users have already switched to Windows 10, but it seems that some of the users that have switched to Windows 10 are experiencing certain issues.

Some users are having file explorer problems with Windows 10, but fortunately, there are few solutions that you can try.

How can I fix File Explorer problems on Windows 10?

File Explorer problems can be rather annoying, and in this article, we’re going to cover the following issues:

  • File Explorer Windows 10 not responding, working, opening, loading, showing – There are various problems with File Explorer that can occur, and in this article, we’re going to show you how to fix most of these problems.
  • Windows 10 File Explorer hangs – Many users reported that File Explorer hangs on their PC. This can be an annoying problem, but you might be able to solve it by using one of our solutions.
  • Windows 10 File Explorer won’t open, keeps closing – According to users, they are unable to start File Explorer on their PC. According to them, File Explorer keeps closing and won’t stay open at all.
  • File Explorer Windows 10 slow, crashes – Many users reported crashes and slowdowns while using File Explorer. We already covered File Explorer crashes and File Explorer slowdowns, so be sure to check those articles for more information.
  • File Explorer freezes Windows 10 – Many users reported that File Explorer freezes on their PC. We already covered this issue in our File Explorer freezes article, so be sure to check it out for more solutions.

Users report problems with Windows Explorer saying that Windows Explorer crashes, or that it hangs when the user right-clicks something.

As you can see, this is a big problem since it can drastically limit your user experience, so here are few solutions that you might want to try.

1. Run netsh and winsock reset

  1. Run Command Prompt as administrator. You can do so by pressing Windows key + X and choosing Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu. In addition, you can type cmd in the Search bar and right click the Command Prompt and choose Run as administrator.
    File Explorer Windows 10 slow
  2. Type netsh in Command Prompt and press Enter.
  3. Next type winsock reset into Command Prompt and hit Enter to run it.
  4. After the process is completed you’ll be notified and then you just need to restart the computer for changes to take effect.

2. Uninstall KB3081449 and KB3081448 updates

Several users reported that update KB3081449 was the cause of the issue, so let’s see how to delete it.

  1. Go to Settings and navigate to Update & Security section.
    Windows 10 File Explorer hangs
  2. Next, go to View installed update history > Uninstall Updates.
    Windows 10 File Explorer keeps closing
  3. Find update KB3081449 and uninstall it. If this doesn’t help, find update KB3081448 and uninstall it as well.

3. Hide hidden files and folders

If you’re having problems with File Explorer such as crashes, you might be able to fix the issue simply by hiding hidden files and folders. Some files are hidden by default, but you can reveal them by changing your settings.

If hidden folders are revealed, you might experience issues with File Explorer, so you should revert these settings by doing the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter file explorer options. Select File Explorer Options from the list of results.
    Windows 10 File Explorer hangs
  2. When File Explorer Options window opens, go to the View tab and select Don’t show hidden files, folders or drives. Click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    Windows 10 File Explorer won't open

After making these changes, the problem with File Explorer should be resolved. Many users reported that this solution worked for them, so be sure to try it out.

4. Enable Launch folder windows in a separate process

Another way to fix File Explorer problems on Windows 10 is to enable Launch folder windows in a separate process option. This is rather simple and you can do it by following these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer Options like we showed you in the previous solution.
  2. Now navigate to the View tab and check Launch folder windows in a separate process. Click Apply and OK to save changes.
    File Explorer Windows 10 not responding

This solution reportedly worked for many users, so we strongly encourage you to try it out.

5. Disable Quick Access and File Preview features

If you’re having File Explorer problems, you might be able to fix them simply by changing a few settings. According to users, you just have to disable Quick Access and File Preview features.

This is rather simple, and to do it, you just need to follow these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer Options.
  2. In the General tab, set Open File Explorer to This PC. Now uncheck Show recently used files in Quick access and Show frequently used folders in Quick access options. If you want, you can click the Clear button to clear the history, but it’s not mandatory.
    Windows 10 File Explorer hangs
  3. Now go to the View tab and uncheck Show preview handlers in preview pane. Now click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    Windows 10 File Explorer won't open
  4. Lastly, make sure that preview pane is disabled. You can disable it once you open File Explorer by pressing Alt + P on your keyboard.

After changing these options, check if the problems with File Explorer still appear.

6. Perform a clean boot

Sometimes certain startup applications can interfere with your PC and cause File Explorer problems to occur. However, you can easily find the problematic application by performing a clean boot.

To do that, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog. Now enter msconfig and press Enter or click OK.
    File Explorer Windows 10 crashes
  2. Navigate to Services tab, check Hide all Microsoft services and click on Disable all button.
    File Explorer freezes Windows 10
  3. Go to the Startup tab and click on Open Task Manager.
    File Explorer Windows 10 not opening
  4. A list of startup applications will now appear. Right-click the first entry on the list and choose Disable from the menu. Repeat this step for all entries on the list.
    Windows 10 File Explorer hangs
  5. Once you disable all startup applications, go back to System Configuration window. Now click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    Windows 10 File Explorer won't open
  6. When asked to restart your PC, choose the option to restart it now.

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Once your PC restarts, check if the problem with File Explorer still appears. If not, it means that one of your disabled applications or services was causing the issue.

To find the problematic application, you need to repeat the steps above and enable applications and services one by one or in groups.

Keep in mind that you need to save changes and restart your PC in order to apply them. Once your PC restarts, check if the issue appears. Keep enabling applications and services until you find the problematic application.

Once you find the problematic application, you can disable it, uninstall it or update it and check if that solves the issue.

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Many users reported that disabling startup applications fixed the problem for them, so be sure to try this solution.

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7. Reset the file associations

If you have File Explorer problems such as freezing, the problem might be related to your file associations.

However, you can easily fix that problem by resetting file associations to default. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app. You can do that quickly by pressing Windows Key + I.
  2. Once the Settings app opens, navigate to Apps section.
    File Explorer freezes Windows 10
  3. From the menu on the left select Default apps. In the right pane, scroll down to the Reset to the Microsoft recommended defaults and click the Reset button.
    File Explorer Windows 10 not loading

After resetting file associations to default, the problem with unresponsive File Explorer should be resolved.

8. Remove IDT Audio

According to users, many File Explorer problems can be caused by IDT Audio, and in order to fix them, you need to remove this application. Once you remove it, it’s advised to delete all files and registry entries associated with it.

This is too complicated to do manually, so it might be a good idea to remove IDT Audio using an uninstaller software.

There are many great uninstaller tools available, but many users reported that they removed this application and all its files by using IObit Uninstaller (free download), so feel free to download it and try it.

It is a great software from IObit and it will help you remove all the leftovers of an app or program so they won’t interfere with your system’s functionalities.

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Once you remove IDT audio, the problem should be completely resolved and your File Explorer will start working again.

9. Change scaling settings

File Explorer problems can occur sometimes due to your scaling settings. Users reported that their File Explorer isn’t responding, but they managed to fix that issue with this simple trick.

Keep in mind that this solution only works if you’re using scaling higher than 100%. To change the scaling, do the following:

  1. Open the Settings app and go to the System section.
    File Explorer freezes Windows 10
  2. Set Change the size of text apps, and other items to 100%.
    File Explorer Windows 10 not working
  3. Check if File Explorer works. If it does, resize it and make it smaller than usual.
  4. Now restore scaling back to the original value.

After doing that, the problem should be resolved and you’ll be able to use File Explorer without any problems. Keep in mind that this might not be a permanent solution, so you’ll have to repeat it if the problem reappears.

10. Make sure that your PC is set for dual monitors

According to users, File Explorer can become missing if your PC is configured for dual monitors. Apparently, File Explorer can open on a second monitor, that isn’t currently attached, so it might seem that File Explorer isn’t working for you.

However, you can easily fix that simply by changing your computer configuration and setting your PC to work with only a single monitor.

Looking for the best dual-monitor software for Windows? Look no further as here are the best options.

As you can see, problems with file explorer can seriously limit your Windows 10 user experience but we hope that these solutions were helpful to you.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, just reach for the comments section below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • The File Explorer is a graphical interface allowing the user to search and manage the drives, folders, and files stored on the PC. If the search option will not function, feel free to follow the steps listed in this guide.

  • Use the File Explorer shortcut on the taskbar and toggle between the General, View and Search tabs to customize the options you are interested in.

  • Select File Explorer Options and check Show recently used files in Quick access and Show frequently used folders in Quick access, then click the Clear button and Apply.

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Avatar Ashish

Add its working

Avatar Pranav

for me the problem was with the preview pane. so the fifth point helped me out 🙂 thanks a lot!

Avatar SewekevSSS

My explorer would keep reloading on every folder i go! Also when i try to use the “Open with feature” it would get freezed. I need to restart my explorer from task bar then to unfreeze. I checked through DISM nothing was broken so it must be some bad settings.

In my case, Just changing the settings of File Explorer Options solved all those! Great stuff! (y)

Avatar Frank

For me the QUICK ACCESS feature was causing the problem. Under SOLUTION #3 stay on the GENERAL TAB… PRIVACY… Disable SHOW RECENTLY USED & SHOW FREQUENTLY… Clear explorer history for good measure.

Avatar Richard Quinto

can someone help me…my problem is when i open my file explorer my network/internet connection is slowingdown…example when play online game it runs perfect when i open my file explorer that online game will disconnect into the game…pls help thanks

Avatar daveinmaine22

Ha! Explorer was acting all buggy, loading slowly, still showing deleted folders. Reset file associations and viola! Thanks

Avatar KrakenFartz

It worked! My problem was that explorer windows were opening as fullscreen, and I could not reduce their size in order to drag them. If I clicked the square icon, the window would collapse into a rapidly flickering square at the top of the screen, and remain so until forcibly closed. Event viewer stated that explorer.exe had stopped communicating with the operating system – so it must do so over Windows sockets! As an added bonus, explorer.exe has become very much more responsive, and the long delay in opening context menus and the start menu has vanished.

Avatar Mark Lindsay

This just saved my day resetting the Winsock Catalogue worked a treat. What a wierd thing to fix explorer lol.

Avatar Alonso Ahmetaj

I type the netsh and winsock but it doesn’t do anything. It just goes to the next command line.
netsh> like this
or the other winsock> same
How do you do?

Avatar pravchaw

i.e. type winsock press enter
and then type reset

Avatar kcsams

fix 2 worked awesomely for me….yay thanks

Avatar David

I had this problem: could not open folders on desktop by double clicking them, nor could open file explorer from taskbar. This happened after upgrading to W10 from W8.1, about 2 days later. Ran SFC /SCANNOW from admin command prompt, no errors found. Yet afterwards, FE would open from Start menu or desktop (but still not from taskbar). Unpinned it from taskbar, repinned it and it now works. Weird and no explanation of why it is all working now. But for how long? Bad stuff, Microsoft.

Avatar Stathis Aggelopsaros

Solution 1 works like a charm! Thanks a lot !!!

Avatar TrdnDrt28

Problem Caused by Inventor 2009 for me. I found that Inventor2009 and 2014 will cause the file explorer to not open, as well as crash if you right click a file/folder. I disabled this using CCleaner – tools – context menu – select inventor and disable. Its a quick fix if you have inventor on a windows 10 machine.

Avatar Brain Anani

my windows explorer is very unstable and it goes back to the top of the folder when your are in the middle of the page. i need help cos this is driving me nuts.

Avatar John T Freeze

I am having the same problem on my Laptop, and my Tablet. It is really ticking me off.

Avatar Frankindaburg

I’ve spent nearly two weeks and a lot of major frustration trying to fix this issue. Your Winsock reset did the trick. Extremely grateful You should get a job showing Microsoft how to fix their operating system. The problem happened after the 30 day reset expired and, of course, the external drive that had my Window 7 backup on it failed.

Avatar Hilal Maheer

my windows explorer works fine until i try to open my “downloads” folder and that’s when the explorer freezes and need to reset it from task manager.

Avatar Frankindaburg

You may need to check your permissions. Go to the folder, right click and then properties and security. I am the only user and the administrator and the rights to my files were changed by something, Once I reset them, that part of my problem went away.

Avatar Dino Uribe

I had window 7 and I could send it to my e- mail and fill in the spaces I need to fill. Now I can’t seem to be able to do this why?

Avatar Dustin Hansen

How to do this on windows 10 moble my file explorer crashes and wont start please help thanks Dustin