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How to Restart the Start Screen and Taskbar (Explorer.exe) in Windows 8.x

If your Taskbar, System Tray, or even the Start Screen starts acting up, you don’t have to power off or reboot your computer. You can usually just restart the Explorer process, and Windows 8.x makes that really easy.

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Back in the Windows Vista or Windows 7 days, you could CTRL + SHIFT and then right-click on the taskbar to pull up a hidden option to close Explorer without loading Task Manager… but that doesn’t really help that much since you’ll have to re-open the process anyway.

Windows 8 makes this really simple. Just open up Task Manager using the CTRL + SHIFT + ESC shortcut key sequence, or right-clicking on the Taskbar if you can.

Once there, drill down until you find Windows Explorer in the list, right-click on it, and choose Restart. Nice and easy!

Of course, if you need to just close the Explorer process, you can do that, and then use File -> Create new task to open up Explorer again.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/21/14

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