Fix: Slow Right Click and Explorer Crashes Caused by Shell Extensions

When you right-click on a file or folder on some computers, the context menu may take many seconds to appear. This article tells you how to fix the slow right-click issues and other context menu handler shell extension problems in Windows. Here are some of the symptoms you may be facing.

  • When you right-click a file/folder, there may be a huge delay before Windows displays the context menu.
  • When you try to empty Recycle Bin, it opens another application instead.
  • When you select multiple files, right-click and click Open / Print, nothing happens. Whereas it works when a single file is selected.
  • Error message “Windows Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience” when you right-click a folder.
  • Right-click is extremely slow only when the network card is enabled.
  • When you right-click on a folder and choose Properties, nothing may happen.
  • Right-click menu turns ugly (classic look) after installing an older version of Notepad++
  • Data Execution Prevention (DEP) error occurs when Windows Explorer or Control Panel is launched.
  • Nothing happens when you click Slideshow or Print in the Tasks pane or File Explorer Ribbon.
  • When you click “Set up backup” or click “Change settings” in Windows 7 Backup and Restore, nothing happens, or the System32 folder opens.
  • When you right-click Start to access the Win+X (Power User) menu in Windows 10, none of the shortcuts work. At the same time, they work correctly from the Win+X shortcuts folder.
  • Right-click Context menu Run as Administrator not working.
  • Folder Names Truncated after the Dot (Period) in Explorer (caused by TortoiseSVN shell extension)

Cause

A poorly coded context menu handler shell extension added by a 3rd party program may be causing any of the above symptoms.

A context menu handler is a type of shell extension that adds commands to your right-click menu. For example, the entries “Scan with Windows Defender,” “Set as Desktop Background,” etc., you see in the right-click menu are context menu handers included by default in Windows. Likewise, 3rd party programs may add their own extensions.

When Explorer shell crashes, it writes an entry to the Application event log. You can open the Event Viewer and check for recent Application log errors 1000 to find more information about the crash.

In some cases, the exact name of the offending shell extension is shown in the Application event log. Here is an example:

Log Name: Application
Source: Application Error
Date: 
Event ID: 1000
Task Category: (100)
Level: Error
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Computer: 
Description:
Faulting application name: explorer.exe, version: 10.0.10240.16405, time stamp: 0x55b455cf
Faulting module name: IDTNCPL.cpl, version: 1.0.6365.0, time stamp: 0x4e68a44d
Exception code: 0xc0000005
Fault offset: 0x00001151
Faulting process id: 0x1284
Faulting application start time: 0x01d0d2a6d2ff07fc
Faulting application path: C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe
Faulting module path: C:\WINDOWS\system32\IDTNCPL.cpl
Report Id: 1da3cf69-34ba-4871-bb74-5bbaa97e8eb0

Here is another instance where the Foxit PhantomPDF’s shell extension ConvertToPDFShellExtension_x64.dll caused the crash.

context menu extension crash event viewer error 1000

However, in some cases, the module name may show up as shell32.dll instead of the actual 3rd party module that caused the issue.

Please try this first!

Is the Send To menu (not shell extensions) causing the delay?

[If you’ve landed on this page to troubleshoot a crash (instead of the “right-click menu delay” issue) when right-clicking, then skip this part and go to ShellExView section below.]

A third-party context menu handler shell extension may not always be the culprit for right-click menu delays. The delay can be caused by the items in your Send To menu as well — especially the external drives and network drives. When you right-click a file or folder, Windows builds the list of menu items and also enumerates the Send To items.

By enabling the DelaySendToMenuBuild and NoDrivesInSendToMenu registry settings, you can make the right-click menu appear much faster. This works fine on Windows 10 as well.

delaysendtomenubuild

For more information, check out the article Hidden Registry Settings for the “Send To” Menu.

If that speeds up the right-click menu, then you can skip the rest of the instructions in this post.

In case the above registry settings don’t help even after a restart, then the next step is to isolate the context menu handler shell extension that may be causing the problem.

[Fix] Right Click Issues Caused by Shell Extensions

The context menu handlers can load from many different areas in the registry. It can be difficult for an end-user to pinpoint which extension is causing the problem. Let’s see how to narrow down the issue using the ShellExView utility easily.

ShellExView from Nirsoft is an excellent tool to view and manage all installed shell extensions. It displays the file description, version, company information, location, file name, and more. This tool helps you effortlessly disable an extension that you don’t need. This tool can be used to determine the problematic shell extension.

Effective usage of ShellExView to resolve right-click problems

  1. Download ShellExView from Nirsoft.net and run it. It scans the registry for all the shell extensions.
    troubleshoot right click Issues Caused by Shell Extensions - shellexview
  2. From the Options menu, click Hide All Microsoft Extensions to enable the tick mark on it. This prevents you from accidentally disabling a built-in Windows shell extension.
    troubleshoot right click Issues Caused by Shell Extensions - shellexview
    This lists all the third-party shell extensions installed on your system.
    troubleshoot right click Issues Caused by Shell Extensions - shellexview

    Shell extensions are of different types — e.g., icon handler, overlay handler, context menu, etc. Since we’re dealing with a right-click issue in Windows, we’re particularly interested in context menu handlers.
  3. Sort the results using Type, so that the Context Menu handlers are displayed together.
  4. Next, disable the Context Menu handlers one at a time. Or even better, disable the first half of the items displayed.
  5. Once disabled an item or group of items, use the Restart Explorer Ctrl + E option to restart the shell to verify if that solves the problem. Restarting the Explorer shell is an essential step. This shouldn’t be skipped.
    Note: You can also use the Task Manager to restart the shell.

  6. If disabling one or a group of items does not solve the problem, enable the item(s) back, and disable the next set of non-Microsoft context menu handlers in the bottom half, and restart Explorer. Repeat this process to turn the context menu extensions on and off and determine which is causing your problem.

tips bulb iconAn even quicker method is to bisect the list of context menu handlers into two groups, disabling half of the entries at a stretch, rebooting, and testing the behavior again.

A Windows user named JClarke commented:

“You can disable them …they say “one at a time” and see what effect it has on the problem. I did it a lot quicker by bisecting the list, disabling half of the entries in one fell swoop, rebooting, and trying the right click. It worked, so I knew I just had to narrow it down, just as we used to do with MSConfig. Then I kept bisecting the list until it was just a few and did those one at a time. The problem is that you have to reboot between tries to get accurate testing of the results of your disabling. I didn’t find logging off to be consistent.”

Do this until the issue is resolved, and finally, you should be able to identify the offending context menu handler shell extension.

Note: It’s not always the Context menu handler, but a PropertySheet handler or an Icon Handler may be the culprit sometimes. Some readers have reported that the Property Sheet handler “IIS W3ext Module” was responsible for the folder properties issue in a computer running an older version of Windows. In another peculiar case, the system file shimgvw.dll itself was the culprit. These modules don’t exist in Windows 10, anyway.

The Explorer shell loads extensions of the following types:

  • Column Handler
  • Context Menu
  • Copy Hook Handler
  • Data Handler
  • Drag & Drop Handler
  • Drop Handler
  • Icon Handler
  • Icon Overlay Handler
  • InfoTip Handler
  • Preview Handler
  • Property Handler
  • Property Sheet
  • Search Handler
  • Shell Folder
  • ShellExecute Hook
  • Thumbnail Handler

Context menu handlers are loaded when you right-click on a file or folder, or even when you double-click on a file or folder. By disabling unwanted context menu handlers, you can avoid explorer.exe crashes and right-click delays.

Fixing the problem manually using Registry Editor

If you decide to troubleshoot this problem without using ShellExView or similar tools, here is some background information on how to go about it. That said, this is only for advanced users who are comfortable with using the Registry Editor.

First, observe when does the problem occur — when right-clicking a particular file type? or all file types? or only when right-clicking on folders?

Context menu handlers can load from any of these areas:

Location Description
HKCR\*\shellex\contextmenuhandlers Files
HKCR\AllFileSystemObjects\shellex\contextmenuhandlers Files and File folders
HKCR\Folder\shellex\contextmenuhandlers Folders (virtual and real)
HKCR\Directory\shellex\contextmenuhandlers File folders
HKCR\[ProgID]\shellex\contextmenuhandlers File class
HKCR\Directory\Background\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers Desktop & Folder background
HKCR\SystemFileAssociations\[.file_ext]\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers Files
HKCR\SystemFileAssociations\[PerceivedType]\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers Files of a certain type (“Perceived type”)
desktop.ini Folder (per-folder context menu)

Note: HKCR is the short name for the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT registry node.

If any of the previously explained symptoms occur when you deal with a folder, then you may need to inspect the context menu handlers loaded in these areas (AllFileSystemObjects, Folder, Directory). If it’s only for a .txt file, inspect the handlers installed for the file class of  .txt (HKCR\txtfile). See how to map a file extension to ProgId.

Under the ContextMenuHandlers registry key, you may see one or more subkeys; each key represents a context menu handler shell extension. The keys may have a proper label or contain a GUID as the name.

troubleshoot right click Issues Caused by Shell Extensions - shellexview



The GUIDs can be looked upon on the web or from the HKCR\CLSID\{GUID}\InProcServer32 registry location to know the corresponding program and the .dll file name.

Open Registry Editor and backup the selected branch, delete the context menu handlers one at a time to test. After every registry change, you must restart the Explorer shell for the changes to take effect. This is where the ShellExView is handy. It includes the Ctrl + E shortcut to restart explorer.

Slow right-click only on networked computers?

In some cases, not related to shell extensions, the right-click menu may be extremely slow to appear when a system is connected to a network. And, disabling the wi-fi adapter or the ethernet connection may restore the normal right-click functionality. As said earlier, this is a non-shell extension issue usually caused by adding a context menu option pointing to a program located on a network share.

Assuming that WinZip is placed in a shared location or file server, when the user launches WinZip from the network share and enables WinZip Shell integration on their system, the registry entry will point to a file in the network location, such as:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\WinZip\shell\open\command

With the (default) value assigned the following:

\\192.168.0.8\programs\winzip.exe "%1"

With the above setting, if the file server or the networked computer which hosts the program, is turned off, and when you right-click on a file on your computer, you’ll see a huge delay. And some of the following symptoms can be observed.

  • Sometimes, you’ll experience a slow right-click, only for the first time after a fresh restart.
  • You’ll also see some packets are transferred via the network (Taskbar notification icon.)
  • You may also notice that disabling the DHCP Service speeds up the right-click menu display in some systems.

How do you find the registry entries pointing to files on a network share?

Using ShellMenuView

ShellMenuView is another tool from Nirsoft which lists the static context menu items (non-shell extensions) from the registry. This tool can help you disable/enable menu items or jump to the corresponding registry key using the Registry Editor.

Launch ShellMenuView and let it populate the items.

troubleshoot right click Issues Caused by Shell Extensions - shellmenuview

Sort by the Filename column to quickly identify UNC paths pointing to a networked computer or mapped network drive-letters.

Right-click on the entry and click Disable Selected Items to disable the menu item from appearing. To remove the entry altogether, right-click on the item and click Open in RegEdit.

This takes you to the relevant branch in the Registry Editor. Backup the key by exporting to a .reg file, and then delete the branch.

Using RegScanner

Another option is to use the RegScanner utility from Nirsoft. RegScanner is a small utility from Nirsoft that allows you to scan the registry, find the desired Registry values that match the specified search criteria, and display them in one list. After finding the Registry values, you can easily jump to the right value in RegEdit, simply by double-clicking the desired Registry item. You need to search the registry values whose data field begins with the string \\ (UNC path)

Run RegScanner and configure the search options as below:

troubleshoot right click Issues Caused by Shell Extensions - regscanner
Click the Scan button. Sort the search results by Data column and find entries containing the network share — UNC path or a mapped drive letter.

troubleshoot right click Issues Caused by Shell Extensions - regscanner

Now you know the entry that’s causing the right-click delay. Go to that particular location in Regedit, backup the corresponding key(s), and then delete the offending key(s).

I hope this guide was helpful for you to fix slow right-click problems, explorer crashes, and other performance issues caused by context menu handlers in Windows.


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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 Winhelponline.com in 2005.

10 thoughts on “Fix: Slow Right Click and Explorer Crashes Caused by Shell Extensions”

  1. Many thanks for your help. This problem was bugging me for months. My problem was caused by the shell extension Compare It (by Grig software).

    Reply
  2. Shellexview did the trick. Had to disable and reboot several times until I found it was old Western Digital External hard drive extensions. The hard drive still works fine in Windows 10 1903, but apparently the shell extensions do not!
    I was able to download a newer version of Western Digital Smartware from their site. I installed this and re-enabled the extensions and all is well.
    So: Windows 10 1903 is not compatible with the older WD Smartware software!

    Reply
  3. Where do you look if all 3rd party extensions are disabled and the problem still occurs? It is likely a Micro$oft extension issue, yet there are several hundred and won’t using the disable feature stop Windows from working properly?

    Reply
  4. Hi,

    My problem was with this file from NVIDIA
    C:\WINDOWS\system32\nvshext.dll

    Thank you so much for your help

    Reply
  5. What can I do if I’ve disabled ALL context menu items and still have the same problem? It’s random, random file types and probably happens 7 out of 10 times I right click a file (Windows 10), it can happen on all file types across multiple types of storage drive but does seem to happen more so on .txt files.

    Reply
  6. Finally, after two years of annoyance and slow explorer .
    With my system it was Tortoise.
    It`s a petty, that MS does not offer the solution.
    Thanks a lot 🙂

    Reply

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