Fix for Windows Explorer Folder Pane in XP Becomes Grayed Out

A reader wrote in this week asking why his folder pane in Windows XP wasn’t working… it didn’t display anything other than a gray background with nothing else. This is actually a common problem that I’ve personally experienced before, which I luckily knew the solution to.

The issue is that there’s a corruption in the registry, and the specific key is either missing or somehow not correct, and a simple registry hack is required to fix the problem.

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This problem sometimes occurs when you install applications that integrate themselves into Windows explorer or Internet Explorer, or when the uninstaller for those applications is just a little too excited about deleting things.

Registry Hack Info

While it’s too much of a pain to hack this manually, if you are curious where in the registry the problem is located, here’s the name of the key assigned to the folder pane band.

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{EFA24E64-B078-11d0-89E4-00C04FC9E26E}]

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The above screenshot is the way it’s supposed to look (Yes, it’s supposed to look confusing). If that key does not exist, you are probably experiencing the exact same problem.

Download Registry Hack 

Just download, extract, and then double-click on the file to enter the information into the registry. Once you are done with that, log off and back on, and your folder pane should return:

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This registry entry was exported from a clean install of Windows XP SP2.

Download FixFolderPaneGray Registry Hack

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.