Windows 11 desktop not responding? Apply these fixes

by Kazim Ali Alvi
Kazim Ali Alvi
Kazim Ali Alvi
Author
Kazim has always been fond of technology, be it scrolling through the settings on his iPhone, Android device, or Windows. And at times, unscrewing the device to take... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • If the desktop in Windows 11 is not responding, that generally points towards a software issue.
  • It could be a conflicting app, an outdated driver, or the presence of malware causing the problem.
  • To fix the error, try updating the OS, installing the latest driver version, or running the built-in troubleshooter, amongst other methods here.
Fix desktop not responding in Windows 11

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As more and more people are switching to Windows 11, we are now seeing a lot more errors, some of which are more difficult to fix than the others. One such problem where troubleshooting seems tricky is when the desktop is not responding in Windows 11.

When this happens, though you would be able to access the other parts of the system, the desktop and icons located here would be unresponsive. This tends to hamper your Windows experience.

Therefore, we have decided to dedicate this article to help you find what’s behind the Windows 11 desktop not responding issue, and the best ways to eliminate the problem.

Why is the desktop not responding in Windows 11?

This could be due to several reasons, but the task to identify what’s causing the problem lies with you. An outdated version of the OS is likely to throw some errors, including the desktop not responding in Windows 11.

Apart from that, if the installed drivers have not been updated in a while, it could lead to error problems with the system. Though Windows should automatically take care of this, there’s no harm in manually checking for updates in case you encounter an error.

Device drivers can be found in the Device Manager

Another common reason behind Windows 11 desktop not responding is running a conflicting app. If the desktop stops responding each time as soon as you run a particular app, it’s most likely causing the problem.

Even some of the well-known apps may often cause such errors. On one of the previous iterations, Internet Explorer was found to cause this problem, and uninstalling it worked for the users.

Even if you don’t want to remove it, just make sure to not launch the app until it receives an update with a patch.

Now, let’s walk you through the most effective fixes for Windows 11 desktop not responding issue.

What do I do if the Windows 11 desktop is not responding?

1. Restart the computer

Note icon
NOTE
In case this method doesn’t work, you can hold the power button to turn off the computer, and then long-press it again to turn on the PC.

  1. Press the Windows key to launch the Start menu.Start menu
  2. Now, click on the Power button, and select Restart from the flyout menu.Restart to fix windows 11 desktop not responding

In most cases, it’s a background process or bug that is leading to the desktop not responding issue in Windows 11. Here, it’s best that you restart the computer to temporarily fix the problem.

But, make sure to execute the other methods here to completely eliminate it.

2. Update Windows 11

  1. Press Windows + I to launch the Settings app, and select Windows Update from the tabs listed in the navigation pane on the left.Windows Updates
  2. Click on the Check for updates button on the right to scan for any available newer versions of Windows 11.Check for updates to fix windows 11 desktop not responding
  3. If an update is listed after the scan, click on the Download & install button.Download & install

3. Run the built-in troubleshooter

  1. Press Windows + S to launch the Search menu, enter Control Panel in the text field at the top, and click on the relevant search result that appears.Control Panel to fix windows 11 desktop not responding
  2. Click on the View by dropdown menu and select Large icons from the list of options.View by
  3. Next, locate and click on the Troubleshooting entry.Troubleshooting to fix windows 11 desktop not responding
  4. Click on System and Security.System and Security
  5. Click on System Maintenance to run the troubleshooter.System maintenance troubleshooter to fix windows 11 desktop not responding
  6. Now, follow the on-screen instructions and choose the appropriate response when prompted to complete the troubleshooting process.Follow

Running a relevant built-in troubleshooter is one of the simplest and quickest ways to fix problems with the PC. And, the System Maintenance troubleshooter has helped eliminate the Windows 11 desktop not responding issue for several users, so do run it.

4. Update the drivers

  1. Press Windows + S to launch the Search menu, enter Device Manager in the text field, and click on the relevant search result.Device Manager
  2. Double-click on the Display adapters entry here.Display adapters to fix windows 11 desktop not responding
  3. Right-click on the graphics adapter, and select Update driver from the context menu.Update driver to fix windows 11 desktop not responding
  4. Now, select Search automatically for drivers from the two options in the Update Drivers window.Search automatically for drivers
  5. Wait for your system to install the best driver available on the computer for the graphics adapters.

Drivers play a critical role in the effective functioning of every piece of hardware. While some of these may not considerably affect the performance, others like the graphics driver play a major role and cannot be neglected.

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So, it’s recommended that you update the graphics driver in Windows 11 to eliminate the desktop not responding issue. In case you haven’t previously downloaded the latest version, find out how to manually install the drivers in Windows 11.

If the problem persists after updating the graphics drivers, start installing the latest versions for the other drivers as well. This may take a while, which is where a reliable third-party app could help.

We recommend DriverFix, a dedicated tool that will automatically scan every possible source for the latest version and install it for all the drivers on the system. With all the drivers up-to-date, you are not likely to encounter such issues in the future.

Get DriverFix

5. Uninstall conflicting programs

  1. Press Windows + I to launch Settings, and select the Apps tab from the left.Apps
  2. Click on Apps & features on the right.Apps & features to fix windows 11 desktop not responding
  3. Now, locate the problematic app, click on the ellipsis next to it, and select Uninstall from the flyout menu.Uninstall to fix windows 11 desktop not responding
  4. Again, click Uninstall in the confirmation prompt that pops up.Uninstall

As already discussed earlier, an application is just as likely to cause the Windows 11 desktop not responding issue. Here, all you have to do is identify and uninstall the app.

To do that, recall the apps that were installed or updated around the same time you first encountered the error. Now, start removing them one at a time, restart the computer after each, and check if the error is eliminated.

Once the problematic app has been removed, you can safely reinstall the others that were uninstalled during the process.

6. Run a malware scan

  1. Press Windows + S to launch the Search menu, enter Windows Security in the text field, and click on the relevant search result that appears.Windows Security
  2. Click on the Virus & threat protection option.Privacy & threat protection
  3. Now, click on Scan options to view all the different types of scans available.Scan options
  4. Select the Full scan option and then click on the Scan now button at the bottom.Full scan to fix windows 11 desktop not responding

Now, wait for the scan to complete, and once it’s done, check if the Windows 11 desktop not responding issue is resolved. Also, while we have used the built-in Windows Security to scan for malware, you can use any reliable third-party antivirus for Windows 11.

7. Perform DISM and SFC scan

  1. Press Windows + S to launch the Search menu, enter Windows Terminal in the text field, right-click on the relevant search result, and select Run as administrator from the context menu.Windows Terminal to fix windows 11 desktop not responding
  2. Click Yes in the UAC (User Account Control) prompt that pops up.Click Yes
  3. Next, click on the downward-facing arrow near the top and select Command Prompt from the list of options. Alternatively, you can hit Ctrl + Shift + 2 to launch Command Prompt in a new tab.Command Prompt
  4. Now, type/paste the following command and hit Enter to run the DISM tool:Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealthDISM to fix windows 11 desktop not responding
  5. Next, execute the following command to perform the SFC scan:sfc /scannowSFC scan to fix windows 11 desktop not responding

Once done, restart the computer for the changes to come into effect. Now, verify if the desktop not responding problem in Windows 11 is fixed.

The DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) tool and SFC (System File Checker) scan can together fix a lot of errors arising due to corrupt or missing system files, problems with the Windows image, or installation files.

8. Run the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool

  1. Press Windows + S to launch the Search menu, enter Windows Memory Diagnostic in the text field, and click on the relevant search result.Windows Memory Diagnostic to fix windows 11 desktop not responding
  2. Click on the Restart now and check for problems (recommended) option.Restart now and check for problems

The last thing you should look out for is problems with the RAM. The Windows Memory Diagnostic is a built-in tool that will help identify and eliminate issues with the RAM.

That’s it! By the time you are done executing the methods listed here, the desktop not responding problem in Windows 11 should be fixed. If that’s not the case, you are left with no option but to reset Windows 11 to its factory settings.

In case it’s not just the desktop but the whole computer, learn what to do if Windows 11 keeps freezing randomly.

Tell us which fix worked for you in the comments section below.

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