How to Exit Explorer and Restart Explorer in Windows 10 and Windows 8?


Earlier we learnt how to exit and restart explorer shell safely in Windows 7 and Windows Vista. It’s much simpler in Windows 8 and Windows 10, where the hidden "Exit Explorer" option is moved to the Taskbar context menu instead of the Start menu. Also, Task Manager has a new command in Windows 8 and Windows 10 that lets you do this task in a jiffy. The two methods are covered in this article.

Step 1: Exit Explorer in Windows 8 and Windows 10

Press and hold the CTRL and SHIFT keys, and right-click an empty area in the Taskbar.

Click the Exit Explorer extended menu option that appears.

This closes the Explorer shell.

Step 2: Start the Explorer Shell Manually

To start the Explorer shell again, start Task Manager (CTRL+SHIFT+ESC)

Click the File menu, click Run new task

Type explorer and press {ENTER}

Close Task Manager.

Exit and Restart Explorer shell in One Go

Now here is even better option. Task Manager can exit and restart the Explorer shell at once for you.

1. Open Task Manager and scroll down to Windows processes category.

2. Right-click Windows Explorer in the list, and click Restart

This closes the Windows Explorer shell safely and restarts it automatically!

Editor’s Note: The Task Manager option restarts the shell immediately. Whereas using the first method, you decide when to restart the shell after exiting it. Choose whichever option suits you.


About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

5 thoughts on “How to Exit Explorer and Restart Explorer in Windows 10 and Windows 8?”

  1. Great to know.

    There is a little-known detail about Explorer: It asks DCOM Server Process Launcher service to launch its windows, so that it never launches with administrative privileges when UAC is enabled. Imagine the dreadful situation if this was never in place: The user opens Task Manager (which always launches with administrative privileges) and uses it to launch Explorer! Boom! No more UAC protection.

  2. It certainly can launch with admin privileges and cause all sorts of havoc. In fact, the Dropbox installer when it was first released for Windows 8 made this huge mistake: after registering its shell overlay icons to mark the sync status, it restarted explorer as a child process of the installer, which was of course running as admin.

    Using it in that state would cause all sorts of problems, missing UAC being one of them, but potentially more problematic long-term, any files it created were marked as High Integrity, an ACL property not changeable in the GUI (and not removable even via the command line with icacls.) That resulted in access denied errors for files for no apparent reason, as well as a cascade of privilege escalation issues for any child processes launched during that session.

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