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Explorer Restart 1.0 open source

Explorer Restart is a simple program that just restarts File Explorer (formerly known as Windows Explorer). The path of each open File Explorer window is noted, and each window is opened again after Explorer is restarted. The history of each window is not captured and cannot be restored, so you may wish to first use the Back or Up button in each window to navigate to the topmost folder within its respective folder tree.

The order that the folder windows are re-opened is non-deterministic; they will almost certainly not reappear in the taskbar or thumbnails flyout in the order that they did before Explorer was restarted. The excellent 7+ Taskbar Tweaker by RaMMicHaeL provides Windows 7 upwards with the ability to drag all the thumbnails back into the previous order (enable the “Drag to reorder” option in the Thumbnails section). Note that most of 7+ Taskbar Tweaker will die with Windows 11, as Windows 11’s Explorer has been heavily redesigned.

Explorer Restart is only tested in Windows 10 Pro 20H2 and the Server 2016 Desktop Experience. There is a small risk that running it will cause Explorer to enter an endless crash loop, as it is so painfully unmanageable, broken and unpredictable. Sadly, Windows 11’s Explorer rewrite comes at a huge cost of usability.


Since XP, every version of Explorer has offered its own means to cleanly terminate it, but there are two problems with this approach: you are not offered a means to re-open Explorer, and even when you do this manually (e.g. from a pre-opened Command Prompt or PowerShell window) your open folder windows are thrown away. Explorer is too stupid to remember your open windows during a clean close. Task Manager’s Explorer restart process also discards all your open windows.

Why does Explorer need restarting anyway? Two examples, both of which led to me needing to create this utility:

Explorer Restart is an open source application programmed in AutoHotkey. The installer is built using Inno Setup. All graphics were created using Inkscape.

See the readme for implementation and usage notes.