Here's how to add the Restart Explorer context menu in Windows 11. It will allow you to quickly restart the Windows shell if it gives you issues, has some glitches, or when you need to apply some tweak on-the-fly.
Windows 11 looks quite different from its predecessors. It has a centered taskbar, a new Explorer app, new icons and a redesigned Settings app. The Start menu is also a brand-new tool that left Live Tiles in the past. Despite these drastic changes, the taskbar and Desktop are still implemented by the explorer.exe, also know as the Explorer shell.
When you apply some tweak, it can be useful to quickly restart Explorer without restarting the computer or signing out from your user account.
Similar, when you have issues with the shell, e.g. the Start menu doesn't open, or File Explorer hangs, or taskbar doesn't respond on your clicks, restarting the Explorer shell will help. It is much faster than restarting the computer.
Add Restart Explorer Context Menu in Windows 11
- Download the following ZIP archive.
- Extract the two *.REG files to any folder location of your choice.
- Open the "add restart explorer context menu.reg" file.
- If prompted by UAC, click Yes or Continue in the User Account Control dialog.
- Now, right click the Desktop, and click on Show more options. The context menu will also include the new Restart Explorer commands.
You can remove the added context menu at any moment later. The undo file named "remove restart explorer context menu.reg" is also included in the ZIP you have downloaded.
Using Winaero Tweaker
You can save a lot of your time by using Winaero Tweaker. Download and install the app, then go to Context menu > Restart Explorer.
By turning on the option, you will get exactly the same context menu as described in this post, but much faster.
How use the Restart Explorer context menu
Simply right-click the Desktop background and select Show more options > Restart Explorer from the menu. The menu includes two sub-items, titled Restart Explorer and Restart Explorer with pause.
- The Restart Explorer entry will instantly restart the explorer.exe process now and reload the Windows shell.
- The Restart Explorer with Pause option terminates the Explorer process, then opens a new command prompt. It will wait until you press any key to re-launch the shell (explorer.exe)
The latter option is useful, and it will allow you to make a pause between the Explorer restarts. During the pause, you can apply more changes to the Registry, work with some files and settings, e.g. you can do anything you need, then press any key in the command prompt, and reload the desktop and taskbar.
The commands in the context menu use the TaskKill command, a console tool that comes bundled with each modern Windows version. Its main purpose is to terminate running apps from the console.
This context menu is obviously useful, but it is not the only way to restart Explorer in Windows 11. We have a lengthy and detailed article on different methods to restart the Windows shell; you'll find it HERE.
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