Some people have been experiencing problems with Explorer crashing when it is opened. What is the cause and what is the solution? It is probably corrupt files. Here is what to do to fix it.
When Explorer is opened, it has a default view that shows a home view or Quick Access, recent files, frequently used folders, even Office documents, and other items. This is so that you can easily continue working on files, documents and folders that you were working on last time.
However, sometimes things go wrong with this default view and something triggers an error in Explorer when it tries to display the content it needs to. It is likely to be a corrupt or missing file, folder or other item and Explorer crashes instead of displaying as normal.
If you have been experiencing problems with opening Explorer, then cleaning up the default view or selecting a different one can cure the problem. Here’s how to do it. The screenshots are from Windows 10, but Windows 11 is almost identical and the fix works for both.
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Open Explorer with a specific folder
Clicking the Explorer icon in the taskbar opens it with the default view. If this causes Explorer to crash, press Windows+R to open the Run box. Enter ‘explorer c:‘ and an Explorer window opens showing the contents of the C: drive.
Any disk or folder can be opened this way in Explorer and you could type ‘explorer c:\users\myname‘ (replace myname with your account obviously) to go straight to your personal files.
Explorer will most likely open without errors with an alternative view. However, you don’t want to have to type in a complicated command every time you need Explorer, so let’s see how to fix the default view problem.
Open Explorer settings
If Explorer opens OK with that command line trick, you can then open Explorer settings to fix the crash problem, which is most likely something that appears on the default home view.
In Windows 11, click the three dots in the Explorer toolbar followed by Options. In Windows 10, click the View tab, click Options, then Change folder and search options.
Another way to open Explorer’s settings window is to click Start and type ‘control‘. Control Panel is suggested. Click Open and then click File Explorer Options.
The Folder Options window that appears is not quite the same in Windows 10 and 11, but it is close enough. I’ll show Windows 10, but Windows 11 is almost identical.
At the top is Open File Explorer to. Select This PC. This becomes the default view and it shows a list of drives. Unless you have extra drives, it will show just Drive C. You can then jump to folders like Documents, Pictures, Downloads and other folders using the sidebar in the usual way. It should not fail or crash.
In the Privacy section near the bottom of this window are checkboxes to show recently used files and folders. This is likely to be the cause of the Explorer crashes. Clear the checkboxes so recent items are not shown.
Click the Clear button to clear File Explorer history, which is the list of recent files and folders it shows on the home view. Click Apply and OK.
Now try opening Explorer in the usual way by clicking the icon in the taskbar. It should be OK now. You can then return to File Explorer Options and set the default view back to Quick Access or Home as it was before. You can also enable the two check boxes to show recent files and folders.
Advanced: Fix Explorer crashing
If there are still problems, there is an advanced fix. Click the Start button and type ‘cmd‘ then click ‘Run as administrator‘ when Command Prompt is suggested.
At the command prompt, enter:
del /F /Q %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent*.*
Be very careful to enter this exactly without any typing slips! The del command deletes files and folders. The /F force-deletes read-only files, if there are any. The /Q is for quiet mode, which means don’t bother asking are you sure for every item, just get the job done.
This command does exactly the same as the Clear button in the Explorer Options window, but may also clear stubborn files like read-only ones too. After this, Explorer should be back to normal and the crashes should be fixed.