How to start File Explorer in a separate process in Windows 10

By default, File Explorer opens all its windows in a single process. That process is called explorer.exe. Explorer.exe and its associated DLLs include all of the user interface in Windows - the taskbar, the Start button and the Start menu in Windows 10. When something goes wrong in one of Explorer's windows such as a hang or a crash, it can cause the whole Explorer.exe process to be closed and restarted. All Explorer windows will be closed immediately, and the user interface (taskbar, Start button etc) disappears and loads again. Enabling Explorer to open separate processes for the file browser can improve the stability of the Explorer shell. Additionally, it is useful to test Registry tweaks you make as they will be applied directly because every new instance of Explorer will read its settings from the registry every time you open a new window. Let's see all the ways to start Explorer in a separate process in Windows 10.

To start File Explorer in a separate process in Windows 10, the appropriate option should be enabled in options. There is a number of ways to do it. In the article about the same feature in Windows 8.1 we covered how it can be done using Control Panel. The fastest way is to use File Explorer's options.

  1. Open File Explorer. Windows 10 File Explorer
  2. Click File -> Change folder and search options: Windows 10 File Explorer Change folder and search options
  3. The Folder Options window will open, switch there to the View tab. Windows 10 Folder options View tab
  4. Scroll down the options list until you will find the item called Launch folder windows in a separate process. Tick the checkbox. Windows 10 launch folders in separate process

This will enable separate processes for all Explorer instances permanently.

The extended context menu

It is possible to launch a single window in a separate process from the extended context menu in Explorer.
Press and hold down the Shift key and right click a folder in an open File Explorer window. You will see some additional items in the context menu. One of them will be Open in new process. Windows 10 open folder in new process
Click it and the selected folder will be opened in a separate process.

How to start Explorer in a separate process from the command line

The explorer.exe application supports a secret hidden command line switch /separate. When specified, it forces Explorer to run in a separate process.
Press Win + R shortcut keys on the keyboard and type the following:

explorer.exe /separate

Windows 10 explorer exe separate This will open a new Explorer window directly in a separate process.
That's it.

How to check how many instances of Explorer you have running in a separate process

Open the Task Manager app by pressing the Ctrl + Shift + Esc shortcut keys and switch to the Details tab. Click the Name column and scroll to the explorer.exe line.
Windows 10 explorer instance
You will see all the separate instances of Explorer running in Windows 10.

2 thoughts on “How to start File Explorer in a separate process in Windows 10

  1. Thark

    Hmm…. interesting! ^,…,^

    I’m running on Linux now and are not able to use Windows for a while .. :/
    But I’m interesting in the following:
    By using the explorer.exe /separate as a shortcut .. will Windows 10 allow you to open this file explorer as an admin? :3

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      No. See this:
      https://winaero.com/blog/how-to-run-explorer-as-administrator-on-windows-8-1-windows-8-and-windows-7/

      Reply

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