Windows 10 File Explorer Not Responding – Step-By-Step Guide

File explorer can refuse to respond at anytime and you need to be prepared on what to do when you encounter this problem.

What to do to resolve this is simple but first, i want to let you know that you are going to learn what file explorer is, why it’s not responding, and how to resolve it in this article.

When file explorer refuses to respond, it could lead to your taskbar going missing or probably just make you unable to add a folder into it. Sometimes, it basically gets stuck on working on it, making quick access very inaccessible.

You don’t have to worry over whatever the case may be concerning your file explorer because these are common problems in windows 10 and can easily be fixed if you stick to the end of this article.

Now, let’s get into it. ????

What is File Explorer?

Tutorialspoint defined file explorer as the file management application used by Windows 10 operating system to browser files and folders.


Uninstalling programs on Windows 10 can be tricky if the program won’t uninstall. To help with this, Uninstall Programs on Windows 10 provides step-by-step instructions on how to uninstall programs that won’t uninstall.

This simply means file explorer provides a graphical interface for users to navigate and access files stored in their computers.

Here’s what file explorer looks like on windows 10

Why is file explorer not responding?

Here are the reasons.

1. Cache Files Build up

Overtime, cache files will accumulate on your computer based on how frequent you use your computer.

When cache files keep getting bigger in size somewhere on your computer, this sometimes causes conflicts or errors when your computer is trying to access a program.

If you open file explorer frequently, the cache files are stored somewhere on your computer to help you easily access file explorer much faster the next time you open file explorer in the future. This also applies to other programs on your computer.

It’s important to clear these cache files or data at least once in three weeks to keep your computer from avoiding future problems.

2. Outdated Windows and Drivers

In most cases, if your drivers aren’t up to date, you have a high chance of having issues with your outdated programs and more importantly, you will be missing out on the new features that are supposed to come with the new update.

File Explorer by default is a part of Windows operating system therefore, not updating windows keeps file explorer outdated.

It’s important to keep your windows and app updated to avoid future problem.

3. Storage is Full

Computer performance beings to slow down over time as storage begins to get filled up. Now, this gets even worse if your computer has been slow right from day one.

This kind of situation can cause complex issues on your computer that will be very challenging to resolve.

If your storage is getting full or is already full, you should consider deleting some files that are less important to increase storage space.

A really quick way of dealing with a storage that is already full or getting full is to search for the largest files on your computer and work your way from there.

4. Virus and Malware

If your file explorer is malfunctioning, there’s a chance that you’ve been attacked by a virus or malware.

These kinds of attacks are things you should take very seriously because you never can tell what purpose they serve on your computer.

A powerful tool like iObit Malware Fighter would help you protect, fix your computer and restore it back to normal.

5. Corrupted programs

Your file explorer could be reacting to a program that is corrupted on your computer. It’s sometimes really difficult to know which program is corrupted and an easy way to find out is to launch all your programs one after the other to see which program will malfunction.

Also, if you manage to find any corrupted program, you can choose to repair it. If you are unable to repair it, then you should uninstall it.


To Repair Programs in Windows 10, click on the Repair Programs Windows 10 link for detailed instructions.

6. Slow Computer

A slow computer is one of the main causes to why file explorer isn’t responding.

Normally, when you launch file explorer on a slow computer, it would launch but not yet fully loaded.

Sometimes, you might see "working on it" that could last for a very long time which can lead some people to either right-click or left-click anywhere on file explorer which then leads to the not responding error.

The point here is that, if you know your computer is slow, you should avoid clicking on anything after you launch file explorer and have that patience till it loads completely.

More importantly, you should learn to speed up your Windows 10 PC to avoid future complications.

How to Fix Windows 10 File Explorer Not Responding

Follow the instructions carefully. Here’s how,

1. Restart the explorer.exe (File Explorer)

There are three ways to restart explorer.exe on your computer. These ways are:

  1. Task manager
  2. Command Prompt
  3. Batch file

Task Manager

Perform this method while file explorer is running even though it’s not responding.

Here’s how to use task manager to restart file explorer,

  1. Press the following command to open task manager:
Shift + Ctrl + Esc
task manager minimized
  1. Click on more details to expand task manager.
more details task manager
  1. Make sure you are on processes tab.
task manager processes tab
  1. Select windows explorer in the app section.
file explorer in task manager
  1. Now, click on restart by your lower right-hand side.
restarting file explorer with task manager

Command Prompt

Note – If your taskbar is gone, use this method to recover it.

Here’s how to use command prompt to restart file explorer,

  1. Press the following command to open Run box:
Windows Key + R
run box in windows
  1. Inside run box, type the following command to open command prompt and press ok:
opening command prompt with run box
  1. When command prompt opens, enter the following command and press enter to end the explorer.exe process:
taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
ending file explorer with command prompt

Note – Don’t worry if your taskbar is gone, step 4 will bring it back.

  1. Enter the following command and press ok to restart the explorer.exe:
start explorer.exe
restarting file explorer with command prompt

Batch File

With a batch file, you can simply restart your file explorer with a double-click.

Here’s how,

  1. On your desktop, right click and navigate to new and select text document.
Creating text document
  1. Open the text document and copy the following text into the text document:
taskkill /f /IM explorer.exe

start explorer.exe

command to end file explorer in text document
  1. Click on file by your top right-hand side and select save as.
saving test document
  1. Choose your desired location where you want the text document to be saved.
save to location
  1. Change the file name to "Restart Explorer.bat".
rename file
  1. Click on save to create the batch file.
save file
  1. Locate the file you just saved and create a shortcut to your desktop.
desktop icons
  1. Now, locate and double-click on the batch file to restart file explorer.

2. Exit Explorer from the Taskbar and Restart with Task Manager

Here’s how

  1. Press and hold the following command while you right click on the taskbar:
Shift + Ctrl
  1. Release your hand and click on exit explorer at the bottom of the list.
exit explorer from taskbar
  1. Press the following command to open task manager:
Shift + Ctrl + Esc
task manager
  1. Click on file at the top left-hand corner.
file task manager
  1. Select run new task.
run new task in task manager
  1. Type the following command into the create new task dialog box:
create new task
  1. Click on ok.
save task

3. Run System File Checker Scan

Here’s how,

  1. Search for command prompt in windows search.
search for command prompt in windows search
  1. Right click on command prompt from the search result and select run as administrator.
run command prompt as administrator
  1. Enter the following command and press enter to begin scanning:
sfc /scannow
scan now

If that command doesn’t work, try this other command, and click on enter:

sfc /scannow /offbootdir=c: /offwindir=c:windows
scan now 2
  1. When the scanning is done, restart your computer.
  1. Press the following command to launch run box:
Windows key + R
run box in windows
  1. Type the following command into the run box without hitting ok:
cmd run
  1. Press the following command on your keyboard:
Ctrl + Shift + Enter
  1. Click on yes to open command prompt.
  1. Copy and paste the following command inside command prompt and hit enter:
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
safe scan command prompt
  1. When the process is complete, restart your computer.

4. Clear File Explorer and Quick Access History

Here’s how,

  1. Search for control panel in windows search.
search control panel in windows search
  1. Click on control panel from the search results.
control panel result in windows search
  1. Set view by to small icons by your top right-hand side.
small icons in command prompt
  1. Select file explorer options inside control panel.
file explorer options in control panel
  1. While on the general tab, click on clear in the privacy section.
clearing file explorer history
  1. Still, on file explorer options, change open file explorer to quick access and click on clear in the privacy section.
clearing quick access history
  1. Click on apply then ok.
apply and ok

5. Change Display Settings

Here’s how to change your display settings,

  1. Press the following command to open windows settings:
Windows key + I
windows settings
  1. Click on system inside windows settings.
windows 10 system settings
  1. While on the Display section, change the scale and layout to 100% or recommended. You should test both.
scaling to recommended or 100 percent

6. Update Windows 10

Here’s how to perform windows update on windows 10,

  1. Press the following command to open windows settings:
Windows key + I
Windows settings
  1. Click on update & security inside windows settings.
update and security in windows settings
  1. While in windows update section, click on check for updates.

If there’s any update available, download it and restart your computer to install the updates

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Solomon Omolabi is a seasoned IT professional with 10 years of industry expertise. As the owner of, he provides meticulously researched and comprehensive articles that effortlessly tackle any technical challenge. Solomon's contributions have earned him recognition on esteemed professional platforms, making him a trusted authority in resolving complex IT issues. Read more.

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