Folders not refreshing automatically in Windows 10

In File Explorer or on the desktop, when you create, delete, rename, or move a file or folder, the folder view does not refresh automatically to reflect the action. To see the changes, the user must press the F5 button on the keyboard, or right-click on the desktop or folder background and choose Refresh.

Let’s see how to fix the problem.

Fix: Explorer or Desktop not refreshing automatically in Windows 10

Restart Explorer

  1. Open Task Manager
  2. In the Processes tab, right-click on the Windows Explorer process and click Restart
    cleanly restart explorer via task manager
    This restarts the Taskbar, Start menu and your desktop (collectively known as the Explorer Shell).
  3. If there are more than one explorer.exe instances, repeat the Restart command on the other explorer.exe process. One of these two processes is causing the problem where the folder contents don’t refresh automatically.

Unpin Network share/folders or Reset Quick access

If you have a network folder or FTP links (e.g., project folders located on another computer on the office network, accessed via a mapped network drive, or FTP links pinned to the Quick access list.) pinned to the Quick access, File Explorer may fail to refresh the folder automatically. This is especially true if the network/Samba file share is not present or currently inaccessible. For instance, if using the office laptop at your home, your office network resources may be inaccessible from your home network.

Unpinning the shared folder from Quick Access would resolve the issue. Alternately, you can reset Quick access items.

folder does not refresh if network share is pinned in quick access

Remove the Quick access items that point to network shares or samba shares to folders or network printer. Also, if you have FTP links pinned on to the Quick access, try unpinning them.

Not able to unpin or remove an item from Quick access? Check out the articles Fix Quick access Pinned Shortcuts Stuck or Not Working Correctly and Cannot Unpin FTP Links from Quick access in Windows 10.

Reset folder views

Folders may not update correctly due to corrupted saved view settings. In that case, the problem may not be seen in newly created folders. Resetting the saved folder views resolves the issue in some cases. To do so:

  1. Open a folder window
  2. From the File menu, select Folder and Search Options
  3. Select the View tab of the Folder Options dialog.
  4. Click the Reset Folders button.
  5. Close File Explorer.

You may also use the folder view reset script as mentioned in the article How to Reset Folder Views in Windows 10 and Earlier to clear saved folder views including the saved views for the Desktop.

Reset Search settings

  1. In the Folder Options dialog, click the Search tab
  2. Check or uncheck any option in that tab, and click Apply.
  3. Revert to your original setting and click OK.

Launch folders in a separate process

  1. In the Folder Options dialog, click the View tab.
  2. Enable Launch folder windows in a separate process
  3. Click OK.

The above setting, when enabled launches new folder windows in a separate process. You’ll see additional explorer.exe instances in Task Manager.

Create the DontUseDesktopChangeRouter registry value

  1. Start the Registry Editor and go to the following branch:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\EXPLORER.EXE
  2. Create a DWORD (32-bit) value named DontUseDesktopChangeRouter
  3. Set its data to 1
  4. Exit the Registry Editor.

The above registry did the trick for many users.

As per Microsoft:

DontUseDesktopChangeRouter is mandatory for debugger applications to avoid file dialog deadlocks when debugging the Windows Explorer process. Setting the DontUseDesktopChangeRouter entry produces slightly less efficient handling of the change notifications, however. The entry is of the REG_DWORD type and the value is 0x1.

Disable 3rd party shell extensions

Shell extensions load into explorer.exe process. If a third-party shell extension is faulty, it can cause weird problems like the issue we’re dealing with. Use ShellExView or Autoruns to disable third-party shell extensions and restart Windows. See section Disable 3rd Party Shell Extensions in the article Clean Boot Windows Using Autoruns

Desktop or Folders not refreshing automatically in Windows 10

I hope one of the above methods resolved the folder contents refresh issue in Windows 10.

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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded in 2005.

40 thoughts on “Folders not refreshing automatically in Windows 10”

  1. This is absolutely ridiculous. This was happening occasionally with Win 7, Since I have “upgraded” (that’s a joke in itself considering all the other issues with Win 10) Explorer rarely updates without a manual refresh. Come on Microsoft fix this known problem that has been around for years. Instead of making OS’s better the’re getting worse. I would have stayed with Win 7 but of course Microsoft forced everyone to “upgrade” by dropping support for Win 7. I’m about ready to go buy a Mac.

  2. I too hate Win10 with a passion but as they have too many customers, they are not likely to worry too much about their products. Mac also forces obsolescence upon their users so we really don’t have much of a choice but to keep on buying and take whatever we get for the price.

    • The tips still work so actually is is useful. I agree date and ver. would have been useful but it’s silly to write off the whole article.

  3. Hi,

    I have problems with folders not refreshing properly on my desktop running WIN 10 professional with all latest updates applied. I find that any location change e.g. deletion of a document on my desktop or any changes within a folder (name change, deletion etc) does not update immediately but can be encouraged by pressing F5.

    I tried the suggestions in your article which brought temporary relief until I got to Create the DontUseDesktopChangeRouter registry value. When I used Regedit and got to /App Paths Explorer.exe was not present. I can’t find it in nearby folders either. Please do you have any suggestions based on the latest WIN 10 Pro updates?

    • I found the same issue: the registry key the article references doesn’t exist on my PC. I’ve tried several other registry key modifications suggested on other web pages to fix this problem, and so far nothing works.

  4. Deleting my created network locations in My PC folder fixed this stupid windows nuisance bug.

    I have a home theater media player. On my computer I had created 2 WiFi and 1 Ethernet network connections for it. The media player is on for movie nights only. When it was turned off, Windows would make explorer search for those locations for 30 seconds or more before explorer would start to refresh automatically.

    The common bug symptoms were when adding new folders or customizing icons. This would start the bug happening. Only after long delay would explorer start to refresh automatically. Had the bug for about 2 years.

    I did not even have Quick Access working, I always ignored that function, like the Libraries, and had never added the network locations to them. I had also cleared Quick Access history as a test.

    • Hey Jeff,

      I’ve been looking through that link you provided but do not see anything related to this problem.

  5. Register Key – HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\EXPLORER.EXE doesn’t exist on my PC.

    Disable 3rd party shell extensions – the instructions here are far too sparse for the average person to follow.

    Refresh works on my old Toshiba and Maxtor external drives but not the new Samsung, which I prefer to use, so problem not resolved.

    The F5 key is getting a little worn out.

  6. After days of searching on the internet, I finally found what caused the issue. There are threads that talk about a network drive no longer accessible, my problem was similar. I had a failed hard drive that I kept connected to my PC in order to scan for files. Since the drive partition was FUBAR’d, this caused explorer to hang I guess and did the same effect as a network drive no longer connected. As soon as I disconnected that drive from my PC, everything came back to normal. Hope this helps someone.

    • Hi, this solved my problem!
      In details:
      I have two NAS on my local network. Yesterday evening we had a electrical blackout for a few minutes, NAS devices did not restarted. One NAS has a direct folder reference in my Quick Access list. Obviously it has not worked.
      I restarted both NAS and voila, after a few minutes the automatic refresh in Windows Explorer started to work again.
      Thanks for the idea!
      (date of my comment: 2nd of May, 2021)

    • This has been driving me nuts for a very long time. Turned out I had a NAS as a mapped drive but never really use it. Unmapping that drive solved the issue, thanks to your comment!

  7. I had this problem on my PC and discovered after troubleshooting that Dropbox was the culprit. As soon as I uninstalled Dropbox and restarted my folders started refreshing automatically again.

  8. with windows issues there’s lways a dozen suggestions to fix one problem that shouldn’t be there in the first place and then the fixes don’t always work or only work for a short time. some things don’t change

  9. This article and the good folks commenting and who are trying to be helpful offer what seems like about 20 possible fixes. With all of the varied results, I didn’t even bother trying any of the mentioned recommendations. Instead I went to the link below, I read the reviews. The posts were overwhelmingly positive. I tried the fix (5 minutes of effort) and the problem is gone!

    See “How to fix Desktop/Explorer does not refresh automatically in Windows 10”

  10. Thanks Ramesh – I removed network folders from my quick access and now Windows 10 refreshes properly. Easy … when you know how!

  11. Thanks, refreshing Explorer caused the start menu, taskbar, and desktop to disappear, and Explorer will not launch. The anti-solution.


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