The last few weeks my Windows 7 system developed a problem with Windows Explorer crashing. Searching online didn’t garner too many results that appealed to me. I had already restored my system from an image backup but surprisingly it did not fix the problem. The surprise here is that I didn’t have this problem when I created the system image.
One thing repeated over and over online was about disabling 3rd party shell extensions, which will often add an option into the right click context menu. In my case, I had numerous options placed there by third party programs – such as zipping files up or scanning with my antivirus. For image files I could preview a thumbnail, or for a video file I could just right click on it and chose an option to convert.
So when you right-click on a file or folder and have numerous options you can choose from, these are shell extensions. Some of these options are provided by Microsoft and others by third party programs. It was recommended to disable all the non-Microsoft options.
One often recommended program is ShellExView – www.nirsoft.net/utils/shexview.html
I had already downloaded ShellExView (it’s portable, no installation required) so I decided to open it up and give it a try. I had two choices, I could disable non-Microsoft shell extensions one at a time and then wait a while and see if it solves the problem, or just disable them all. I decided to just disable them all. The first step is to isolate all non-Microsoft shell extensions (it’s recommended not to disable any Microsoft options):
- Go into the Options menu and check Hide all Microsoft Extensions
- Then press Ctrl + A on the keyboard, which selects them all at once.
- Then just right click on one and click Disable selected items .
Of course, if you’re a glutton for punishment you can employ the trial and error method – disable each non-Microsoft shell extension one at a time and then wait and see what happens. However, I’ve found it easier to work the other way round – disable them all and then, if the issue is fixed, start enabling them again, one at a time, until the problem resurfaces, and bingo!
It’s been few days now and my explorer that was crashing at least twice a day hasn’t crashed since.
- How To Diagnose PC Issues using ShellExView
- How To Diagnose (and possibly fix) Windows Explorer crashes