Top 7 Ways to Fix File Explorer Not Opening or Keeps Crashing on Windows 11

While the default File Explorer got a fresh coat of paint with Windows 11 update, the reliability remains more or less the same. We have noticed the File Explorer not opening, closing unexpectedly, and even crashing right in the middle of moving or copying files on PC. Read along to learn to fix the File Explorer not opening problem on Windows 11.

1. Restart PC

Let’s start with a simple troubleshooting trick to fix File Explorer misbehaving on your PC. We are sure many of you have tried this trick already. But for those who haven’t, you need to reboot your PC.

Click on the Windows menu and select the Power button. Restart your PC and use Ctrl + E keys to launch the File Explorer.

restart PC

2. Restart File Explorer

Maybe the File Explorer app is already running in the background and that’s why it’s causing a crashing issue when you try to open it again. You need to completely close File Explorer from the Task Manager menu and try again.

Step 1: Right-click on the Windows button on the taskbar and open the Task Manager app from the context menu.

Step 2: Find Windows Explorer from the Apps or Background Processes menu.

Step 3: Click on it and hit the Restart button at the bottom.

restart windows explorer

Step 4: Select the File menu at the top and select Run new task.

create new task

Step 5: Type explorer.exe and hit the OK button.

create new task

Try opening the File Manager again and you won’t notice the app crashing issue.

3. Clear File Explorer History

File Explorer stores your search history to let you find files and folders easily. Over amount of such data can lead to File Explorer not opening issue on PC.

You need to clear File Explorer search history and start from scratch.

Step 1: Hit the Windows key and search for Control Panel.

Step 2: Click on File Explorer Options.

open file explorer options

Step 3: Select Clear beside the Clear File Explorer history option.

clear file explorer search history

Close the menu and try accessing File Manager again.

4. Run System Maintenance

Microsoft offers a built-in tool to find and clean up unused files and shortcuts and perform maintenance tasks. The File Explorer might be acting up due to too many bogus files on the PC.

It’s time to run system maintenance on the PC. Here’s what you need to do.

Step 1: Open the Control Panel menu on Windows (refer to the steps above).

Step 2: Select Troubleshooting.

open troubleshooting

Step 3: Find Run maintenance tasks from the System and Security menu.

run maintenance task

Step 4: Click on it and select Next from the following menu to run System maintenance on the PC.

run system maintenance tool

5. Restore File Explorer Settings

A wrong setting tweak in the File Explorer can lead to the app not opening or crashing issue on Windows 11. You need to reset File Explorer settings. Here’s how.

Step 1: From the Control Panel menu, select File Explorer Options.

open file explorer options

Step 2: From the General view select Restore Defaults.

restore file explorer settings

Step 3: Slide to the View menu and click on Restore Defaults.

restore file explorer

Hit Apply button and click OK. Restart the PC and try using the app again.

6. Scan Windows PC

If you have a habit of downloading software and media files from the web, chances are, you might have infected the PC with corrupt files. The practice can result-in issues with default Windows apps including File Explorer.

The default Windows Security tool is good enough to remove any malware from the PC. Let’s use it using the steps below.

Step 1: Press the Windows key and search for Windows Security app.

Step 2: Select Virus & threat protection from the sidebar.

Step 3: Run Quick Scan.

quick scan

You can minimize the Windows Security app and continue working with other tasks. The estimated time to run the scan depends on the number of files stored on your PC.

You can also use the System File Checker tool to remove corrupted files from the PC.

Right-click on the Windows button menu and open the Windows Terminal app.

open windows terminal

From the PowerShell terminal, type sfc /scannow and hit the Enter key, and run the command. Let Windows remove corrupted files and use the File Explorer app to manage files and folders.

scan PC -fix file explorer not opening on windows 11

7. Update Windows 11

Windows 11 doesn’t win any awards in terms of reliability. Microsoft is still figuring out early glitches from the OS. You can head to the Windows Settings menu (use Windows + I keys) and go to the Windows Update menu.

update windows - fix file explorer not opening on windows 11

Install the latest Windows 11 build and you can continue to use the File Explorer app.  

File Explorer is the spine of your workflow. The app crashing or freezing may leave you with many unproductive hours. Go through the steps above and fix the issue to get back on track. Do let us know about the trick that worked for you to smoothly run File Explorer operations again.

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