The Hidden Exit Explorer Option in Windows 7, 8.1, and 10


Occasionally, to avoid a process of a logoff and login to refresh some settings you just put in place, you can simply restart the Windows Explorer process, usually from the Task Manager. But there is a hidden way that can quickly kill the Explorer without ending it from the processes list in Task Manager.

In Windows 7, you can click Start button, hold down Ctrl & Shift key, and right-click in the empty space in Start Menu, and find the hidden Exit Explorer option there (Figure 1).

Exit Explorer in Windows 7
Figure 1 – Exit Explorer in Start Menu

But since there is no Start Menu in Windows 8, the hidden Exit Explorer has been moved to the Taskbar instead. Simply hold down Ctrl & Shift key and right-click the blank space in Taskbar, and you will find it there (Figure 2).

Exit Explorer in Windows 8
Figure 2 – Exit Explorer in Windows 8

What it does is to kill the Explorer process that powers Desktop, and Metro in Windows 8. Once killed, you won’t be able to go back to Start Screen or any of the Modern App you previously launched.

It also kills all Windows Explorers that you open to browse the folders if you haven’t sandbox the Windows Explorer in either of Windows.

However, you still need Task Manager to re-launch it. Press Ctrl+Shift+ESC to open the Task Manager, and go to File, Run New Tasks, type in Explorer, and press Enter (Figure 3).

Exit Explorer - relaunch it
Figure 3 – Relaunch Explorer

The trick also works on Taskbar in Windows 10 as well but not in the new Start Menu.

Windows 10 - hidden Exit Explorer menu


  1. There have been some very detailed & technical responses posted here, so I’m hoping someone will actually be able to explain why I do not have the “Exit Explorer” option?…  I’ve tried `{Ctrl>{Shift>{Click>,  {Ctrl>{Shift>{RtClick>,  {Ctrl>{Alt>{Click>`, etc. with no luck…  very frustrating.

    Here is my system info: Win7Ultimate, SP1, 64bit, PentiumD2.8, 4GB ram, no pen or touch

    Perhaps it’s a SP1 “fix”?… or a problem with 64bit version?…)

    In addition, is there a command line method to “Exit Explorer”?

    Thanks in advance!  ~  G



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