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.

    The shell restarts again.

See also How to Restart Explorer Cleanly 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 a slightly less efficient handling of the change notifications, however. The entry is of the REG_DWORD type and the value is 0x1.



Reset Quick access pinned items

Folder refresh problem seems to occur if you have a network location (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. Remove any samba shares to folders or network printer and try again. Especially unpin the items from Quick access. Shortcuts to poorly performing network locations is the culprit in many cases.

Not able to unpin or remove an item from Quick access? Check out the article Fix Quick access Pinned Shortcuts Stuck or Not Working Correctly

If you have any network locations pinned to Quick access, unpin them and see if folder contents refresh correctly.

Disable 3rd party shell extensions

Shell extensions load into explorer.exe process. If a third-party shell extension is buggy, 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

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


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About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 10 consecutive years from 2003 to 2012.

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