Windows Explorer Not Starting On Windows 11 Startup

Windows Explorer

Windows 11 is now out of the Dev channel and into the Beta channel meaning that more of you now have access to be able to install or upgrade to a stable build of Windows 11.

Windows 11 is not production ready, yet, so it’s reasonable to expect some bugs or weird errors. One such bug I received was causing me a real headache and preventing me from even starting Windows fully. So what happened? Windows Explorer (explorer.exe) refused to completely start-up when booting into Windows. The Windows 11 desktop would load with my icons, however, I wasn’t able to launch any application and the Windows toolbar did not load at all.

Using Ctrl+Alt+Del, I was able to access the Task Manager, which confirmed my suspicion that the explorer.exe process was Not Responding. Ending the task didn’t correct the issue as Explorer.exe refused to restart upon termination. I also tried starting explorer.exe via the Task Manager after terminating it, to no avail. The process would continue to Not Respond.

In my instance, Windows 11 had downloaded some updates that I wasn’t aware of and hadn’t installed them yet. On the Ctrl+Alt+Del screen I was able to do a soft reboot of the device by clicking on the power icon, and then clicking on “Update and Restart”.

Fixing Windows Explorer Not Starting on Windows 11


  1. First, attempt to reboot the PC from Windows and look for artifacts of an upgrade such as the, “Update and Restart”, option.
  2. Still not working? Boot the PC into safe mode to see if Windows loads properly. If it does then the issue could be related to a driver. Update your hardware drivers.
  3. Still not working? From the Ctrl+Alt+Del screen, launch the Task Manager. Under the ‘Details’ tab locate explorer.exe, it will likely be Not Responding. End the task. If Explorer is functioning properly, it will automatically restart.