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Add Restart Explorer Context Menu in Windows 10

Windows provides several secret ways to exit the Explorer shell. They can be useful when you make Registry changes that affect Explorer or for shell developers when testing shell extensions. To save your time, you can add a special "Restart Explorer" command to the Desktop context menu. This will allow you to restart the Explorer shell with one click.

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Note: The method described in this article works in previous Windows versions too.

Restart Explorer Context Menu Banner

Before proceeding, I recommend you to read the following articles:

Add Restart Explorer Context Menu in Windows 10

Open Notepad and copy-paste the following text into a new document.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\RestartExplorer]
"Icon"="explorer.exe"
"Position"="Bottom"
"SubCommands"=""
"MUIVerb"="Restart Explorer"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\RestartExplorer\shell]

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\RestartExplorer\shell\01Restart]
"MUIVerb"="Restart Explorer"
"Icon"="explorer.exe"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\RestartExplorer\shell\01Restart\command]
@=hex(2):63,00,6d,00,64,00,2e,00,65,00,78,00,65,00,20,00,2f,00,63,00,20,00,74,\
  00,61,00,73,00,6b,00,6b,00,69,00,6c,00,6c,00,20,00,2f,00,66,00,20,00,2f,00,\
  69,00,6d,00,20,00,65,00,78,00,70,00,6c,00,6f,00,72,00,65,00,72,00,2e,00,65,\
  00,78,00,65,00,20,00,20,00,26,00,20,00,73,00,74,00,61,00,72,00,74,00,20,00,\
  65,00,78,00,70,00,6c,00,6f,00,72,00,65,00,72,00,2e,00,65,00,78,00,65,00,00,\
  00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\RestartExplorer\shell\02RestartWithPause]
"MUIVerb"="Restart Explorer with pause"
"Icon"="explorer.exe"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\RestartExplorer\shell\02RestartWithPause\command]
@=hex(2):63,00,6d,00,64,00,2e,00,65,00,78,00,65,00,20,00,2f,00,63,00,20,00,40,\
  00,65,00,63,00,68,00,6f,00,20,00,6f,00,66,00,66,00,20,00,26,00,20,00,65,00,\
  63,00,68,00,6f,00,20,00,54,00,68,00,65,00,20,00,65,00,78,00,70,00,6c,00,6f,\
  00,72,00,65,00,72,00,2e,00,65,00,78,00,65,00,20,00,70,00,72,00,6f,00,63,00,\
  65,00,73,00,73,00,20,00,77,00,69,00,6c,00,6c,00,20,00,62,00,65,00,20,00,74,\
  00,65,00,72,00,6d,00,69,00,6e,00,61,00,74,00,65,00,64,00,20,00,26,00,20,00,\
  65,00,63,00,68,00,6f,00,2e,00,20,00,26,00,20,00,74,00,61,00,73,00,6b,00,6b,\
  00,69,00,6c,00,6c,00,20,00,2f,00,66,00,20,00,2f,00,69,00,6d,00,20,00,65,00,\
  78,00,70,00,6c,00,6f,00,72,00,65,00,72,00,2e,00,65,00,78,00,65,00,20,00,26,\
  00,20,00,65,00,63,00,68,00,6f,00,2e,00,20,00,26,00,20,00,65,00,63,00,68,00,\
  6f,00,20,00,44,00,6f,00,6e,00,65,00,20,00,26,00,20,00,65,00,63,00,68,00,6f,\
  00,2e,00,20,00,26,00,20,00,65,00,63,00,68,00,6f,00,20,00,50,00,72,00,65,00,\
  73,00,73,00,20,00,61,00,6e,00,79,00,20,00,6b,00,65,00,79,00,20,00,74,00,6f,\
  00,20,00,73,00,74,00,61,00,72,00,74,00,20,00,65,00,78,00,70,00,6c,00,6f,00,\
  72,00,65,00,72,00,2e,00,65,00,78,00,65,00,20,00,70,00,72,00,6f,00,63,00,65,\
  00,73,00,73,00,20,00,26,00,20,00,70,00,61,00,75,00,73,00,65,00,3e,00,4e,00,\
  55,00,4c,00,20,00,26,00,20,00,73,00,74,00,61,00,72,00,74,00,20,00,65,00,78,\
  00,70,00,6c,00,6f,00,72,00,65,00,72,00,2e,00,65,00,78,00,65,00,20,00,26,00,\
  20,00,65,00,78,00,69,00,74,00,00,00

Restart Explorer Tweak Contents

In Notepad, press Ctrl + S or execute the File - Save item in the menu. This will open the Save dialog.

Restart Explorer Save Tweak

There, type or copy-paste the following name "add restart explorer.reg" including quotes. Double quotes are important to ensure that the file will get the "*.reg" extension and not *.reg.txt. You can save the file to any desired location, for example, you can put it in your Desktop folder. See the screenshot above.

Now, double-click the file "add restart explorer.reg" that you created. Confirm the UAC prompt and click Yes to merge it into the Registry.

Restart Explorer Import Tweak

A new submenu will appear in the Desktop context menu instantly. See the following screenshots:

Restart Explorer Context Menu

The first command will terminate all "explorer.exe" processes and start a new one instantly.

The second context menu entry will prompt you to press any key to start explorer.exe.

Restart Explorer Context Menu In Action

To save your time, I made ready-to-use Registry files. You can download them here:

Download Registry Files

The undo file is included, so you can avoid manual Registry editing completely.

That's it.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

10 thoughts on “Add Restart Explorer Context Menu in Windows 10”

  1. These command lines simply put Restart Explorer in the right-click menu without the submenus.
    Reg.exe add “HKLM\TK_HKLM_SOFTWARE\Classes\DesktopBackground\Shell\Restart Explorer” /v “icon” /t REG_SZ /d “explorer.exe” /f >nul
    Reg.exe add “HKLM\TK_HKLM_SOFTWARE\Classes\DesktopBackground\Shell\Restart Explorer” /v “Position” /t REG_SZ /d “Middle” /f >nul
    Reg.exe add “HKLM\TK_HKLM_SOFTWARE\Classes\DesktopBackground\Shell\Restart Explorer\command” /ve /t REG_EXPAND_SZ /d “cmd.exe /c taskkill /f >nul /im explorer.exe & start explorer.exe” /f >nul

    1. I copied this from my mounted install.wim file. Please replace TK_HKLM_SOFTWARE with SOFTWARE. Sorry.

  2. Lately I’m often forced to restart Explorer via Task Manager at boot because it’s in “not responding” status during system startup. Can’t figure out why and I wouldn’t exclude one of the anti-W10 privacy settings as the cause.

    An Explorer restart fixes it but if Explorer is not responding, then the context menu solution here will probably not work either… I think. Thanks for the tip, anyway.

    1. The taskbar context menu is not customizable. But you can shift+right-click to see the hidden “exit explorer” item.

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