File Explorer, also known as Windows Explorer, is the program that allows viewing folders and files and is also responsible for displaying the desktop. Sometimes File Explorer can encounter problems where it gets stuck in a “Not Responding” state. We’ll go through several fixes that will help get it working as it should again.

Quick Jump

Sometimes this issue is temporary and just restarting Windows Explorer can get it running again:

You can do so from Task Manager. Here’s how:

  1. Right-click on the taskbar and then click on Task Manager.
    • If you can’t access Task Manager this way, you can also get to it by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete to open the Windows Security screen and then clicking on Task Manager.
  2. Once Task Manager has opened, scroll down and search for Windows Explorer, right-click on it and then click on Restart. You can also click on Windows Explorer to highlight it and then click the Restart button on the bottom right.
    • Click on More details in the bottom left corner to see all processes if your Task Manager does not show everything.

If restarting File Explorer didn’t work, read on for more solutions.

Method 2 – Setting File Explorer to open windows in a separate process can get it working again:

When File Explorer gets stuck in a (Not Responding) state making it start in a new process every time you open a new Windows folder can resolve the issue. Here’s how to do so:

  1. Open Windows Search(click on it or use the Win + S shortcut), begin typing “File Explorer Options” and click on the entry named as such when it comes up.
  2. Click on the View tab at the top of the File Explorer Options window.
  3. Scroll down and find the Launch folder windows in a separate process entry and make sure the checkbox next to it is checked, then click OK.
  4. In some cases this may resolve the issue immediately, but either way you should restart Windows afterwards.

Method 3 – Resetting File Explorer’s settings is another possible solution:

This issue can sometimes be caused by corrupted or incorrect settings, so resetting them to default can solve the problem. Here’s how:

  1. Open Windows Search(click on it or use the Win + S shortcut), begin typing “File Explorer Options” and click on the entry named as such when it comes up.
  2. In the window that comes up click on the Restore Defaults button near the bottom, then click OK.
  3. To make sure the changes are applied you should Restart your computer afterwards and see if File Explorer works after Windows starts up.

If this doesn’t resolve the issue there’s one more settings related fix to try.

Method 4 – Clearing File Explorer’s history cache can get it running as it should:

This is the method that seems to work for most users. As with restoring File Explorer’s settings to default, this is done from the File Explorer Options window:

  1. Open Windows Search(click on it or use the Win + S shortcut), begin typing “File Explorer Options” and click on the entry named as such when it comes up.
  2. In the Privacy section of the window that comes up click on Clear next to Clear File Explorer History then click on OK.
  3. Restart your computer when done and see if File Explorer now opens correctly.

Still no luck? Don’t worry, there’s more fixes you can try.

Method 5 – Display issues can be a common cause of this problem. Changing scaling settings can fix this:

In display settings you can change the scaling of text, apps and other items. If you have this set to a value other than 100% it can potentially cause issues. Having it set to 175% in particular is known to cause the File Explorer not responding issue. Here’s how to change this setting:

  1. Go to the desktop and right-click on the background then click on Display settings.
  2. In the Display settings window click on the box under Scale and layout and change it to 100% if it is not already. If you already have it set to 100% then scaling is likely not causing the issue.
  3. As before, restarting your computer afterwards just to be sure the change has taken effect is worth doing.

Method 6 – Problems with the display driver are another potential cause:

Uninstalling the current display driver can resolve this. This is done via Device Manager. Here’s how:

  1. Open Windows Search(click on it or use the Win + S shortcut), start typing “Device Manager” and click on it when its entry shows up.
  2. Find and click on Display adapters.
  3. Below it your display adapter devices will show up. Normally you should only have one, but you may have multiple display adapters. If you have more than one, select the currently active one. Right-click on your active display adapter and then click Uninstall device.
  4. In the confirmation window that pops up click on Uninstall.
  5. You’ll now want to restart your computer to apply the changes and have Windows reinstall the display driver. Hopefully File Explorer is now working as it should.

After doing this it’s a good idea to also update your display driver from the manufacturer’s website as the current Windows one may be outdated. This is optional, but recommended.

Which website you download from will depend on your adapter. If you don’t remember what your display adapter is, you can check in Device Manager.

Hopefully one of these fixes has gotten File Explorer working as it should and allowed you to access your files and folders again. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.

Still stuck? Ask your question in our forum!

About Author

Ryder Lund

Since he was young Ryder has been drawn to technology and had a knack for working with and learning about it. He often ends up being tech support for friends and family because of this, so it feels natural to him to help out others by writing guides on using Windows. He enjoys living in the Pacific Northwest of Washington state where he is close to both nature and the bustling tech hub of the Seattle area.

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