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Windows Explorer is everywhere - yet finding Windows Explorer on the Start Menu is actually fairly difficult. We look at where Windows Explorer is, and some of the many other ways you can get to it.

I am running Windows XP Pro, and for some reason I cannot find Windows Explorer. I can't find it in the Start Menu ... could you point me in the right direction?

Windows Explorer is both the hardest to find, and the easiest to find program there is. There are several ways to get it, and all of them are really, really easy.

It's just that none of them are obvious.

First, the "expected" location:

  • Start menu

  • All Programs item

  • Accessories sub-menu

  • Windows Explorer menu item

Not obvious, but that's typically where you'll find it.

And for what it's worth, I never, ever, use that location.

"There are several ways to get it, and all of them are really, really easy."

Here are some of the other ways you can get to Windows Explorer, most of them much easier than that:

  • If your keyboard has a "Windows Key", then Windows+E brings up Windows Explorer.

  • Right click on My Computer, and click on Explore.

  • Click on Start, then Run, and enter in a folder name, like "C:\", and click OK - that will open up Windows Explorer (without the left hand navigation pane) on that folder.

  • Click on Start, then Run, and enter in "explorer /e,c:\folder" where "c:\folder" is replaced with the folder you want to view. This is roughly the same as the previous point, except that the left hand navigation pane is visible.

If you have a directory that you like to view often in Windows Explorer, that last point can be very handy - just create a shortcut with that as the command line. For example on my Start menu I have an entry that is a shortcut to something like:

explorer /e,\\Server\share\mp3

A click on that menu item, and the mp3 folder on one of my shared machines opens up.

Article C2712 - July 4, 2006 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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43 Comments
Mike Baker
July 8, 2006 4:58 AM

I find it by right clicking on start & clicking on Explore. Seems to provide a more complete version of explore

Eli Coten
July 8, 2006 4:48 PM

If I would use it, I would open "My Computer" conveniently placed on the Start Menu and just click the big folders icon to show the left hand pane. I think Microsoft were trying to persuade people to switch from using the "Explorer" view to the "My Computer & Tasks" view.

Rledet
July 9, 2006 5:26 AM

I don't know why everyone makes this a hard problem. Explorer.exe should be in the Windows folder of the C drive. Just search for "explorer", make a short cut, and place it in the Start menu.

Audrey Sheck
August 11, 2006 1:49 PM

I need your address to send a bloched-up thing I did. Misplaced your address. Help!

Thanks

horia
June 4, 2007 12:05 PM

How many explorer.exe are there in your Windows folder?

Dave Lueders
October 24, 2007 10:13 AM

The above article was informative.

I have a file/print server running ME that has been trouble free, except for a blank left pane in Windows Explorer and My Computer. I have tried a number of different run command parameters but no cigar. I suspect a registry problem but haven't a clue whick entry to look for or how to make the left pane show up. Any ideas?

lilima
June 4, 2008 12:49 AM

Hi Leo, I tried opening Windows Explorer to access an ftp file but couldnt do it. When i go to windows explorer n type the ftp link it gives an error msg and nothing moves after that. Please help.


Thanks

Leo
June 4, 2008 10:41 AM

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

I don't think Windows explorer does FTP. Either get a "real"
frp program (FileZilla is free and open source) or use
Internet Explorer or Firefox.

Leo


-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

iD8DBQFIRtPECMEe9B/8oqERAg+uAJ9BBNdHspXlb9mJF8SYXD7P709oGgCeJptE
UOi/el/nSCdlYL850KxO9L8=
=YYWT
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

Penny
June 5, 2008 5:54 AM

Internet Explorer can do ftp transfers. After typing the address in the bar, the drop down menu (I think under file??) gives the option to allow ftp. After that, and signing in, it should be listed in your network places, and just double click.

Edward J. Davis
June 24, 2008 5:38 PM

It seems to be a very long ordeal but i guess its for our own good.

carol freedman
September 26, 2008 9:11 PM

i cannot find windows explorer, it is not in my accessories sub category - can i buy it and reinstall it??? i tried emailing microsoft but that was way too hard can you help
carol

Did you try all of the techniques to start Windows Explorer that were discussed in the article? Windows Explorer is not something you buy or download - it's a part of Windows itself and is already there.
- Leo
26-Sep-2008

ChukoBoy
October 13, 2008 6:06 AM

Is it possible that Windows Explorer may not be on your computer? So how can you find something that is not there to begin with?

Do you have a "Start" button? Then you have Windows Explorer. (It's the same program that provides this functionality as well.) It's highly unlikely that it's not there.
- Leo
13-Oct-2008

Julie
October 23, 2008 1:34 AM

Dear Leo,
I have a great problem...the "start" button is NOT on my computer...somehow I cannot run explorer. no idea what to do...help!

Jim Lacey
December 15, 2008 10:43 AM

Hi Leo...
I don't find anything resembling "Explore" when I right click on MyComputer. I do find shared documents, jim's documents, local disk, 3.5 drive,nero scout, my sharing files, and hp printer.
That's it.

Similarly, if i use the Window Key + E, i cannot find the folder (System Drive) that i'm looking for.

My problem is i added critical upgrades to XP Pro and my outlook express will not longer open. MS sent me to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/873021 to fix this, and i got finshed down to #6, inclusive, but now i can't find "systemdrive" in windows explorer to finish. i do see program files, but i'm worried it's not the same thing as systemdrive\programfiles\outlookexpress, which is what i'm supposed to edit next.

thanks for allowing such a long explanation.
jim

Mary
December 23, 2008 1:46 AM

Hi Leo,
When I start up my computer I have no desktop and no start menu. A box pops up that says Windows has encountered a problem and needs to close. I tried running explorer.exe through my task manager and it will not start. I did a registry cleaner and it said this:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Explorer\Doc Folder Paths
I have no idea what this means. Also on the Error Signature it had:
App Name: Explorer.exe
Mod Ver: 5.1.2600.1106
App Ver: 6.0.2800.1106
Offset: 0001b62f
Mod name: Kernel32.dll
I am really frustrated and stuck on this problem. Hopefully you can help me. Thanks a lot. My system is windows xp pro

I'd say you probably need to either run the System File Checker, or perform a repair install of Windows.
- Leo
23-Dec-2008

Mary
December 23, 2008 1:47 AM

Hi Leo,
When I start up my computer I have no desktop and no start menu. A box pops up that says Windows has encountered a problem and needs to close. I tried running explorer.exe through my task manager and it will not start. I did a registry cleaner and it said this:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Explorer\Doc Folder Paths
I have no idea what this means. Also on the Error Signature it had:
App Name: Explorer.exe
Mod Ver: 5.1.2600.1106
App Ver: 6.0.2800.1106
Offset: 0001b62f
Mod name: Kernel32.dll
I am really frustrated and stuck on this problem. Hopefully you can help me. Thanks a lot. My system is windows xp pro

John Griffin
January 7, 2009 6:38 AM

Finding Windows Explorer: Right click on Start, when the menu comes up select (left click) Explore

Dennis Webber
January 8, 2009 8:05 AM

Simplist way is to right click on the START key and select explorer (usually the 2nd ent down).

Unfortunately it's rarely that simple. The initial menu displayed by the Start button is often very different for different people, and portions can also change over time. If it's there, great, but it may not be.
- Leo
09-Jan-2009

Ralph
February 23, 2009 2:57 PM

The bar at the bottom of Windows Explore has disappeared. I use it to display number of files in a folder and and total folder size

View menu, check the Status Bar item.
- Leo
24-Feb-2009

zahra
May 11, 2009 7:10 AM

dear mr.Leo ,I cant open any documents and files in my new labtop with windows vista,everytime i want to open them ,it comes up with an error saying that:Windows Explorer has stopped working ,check for online soloution!but theres no soloution,what can I do?
Problem signature:
Problem Event Name: APPCRASH
Application Name: explorer.exe
Application Version: 6.0.6001.18164
Application Timestamp: 4907e242
Fault Module Name: dx.dll_unloaded
Fault Module Version: 0.0.0.0
Fault Module Timestamp: 49dcc7f4
Exception Code: c0000005
Exception Offset: 04224c84
OS Version: 6.0.6001.2.1.0.768.3
Locale ID: 1033
Additional Information 1: fd00
Additional Information 2: ea6f5fe8924aaa756324d57f87834160
Additional Information 3: fd00
Additional Information 4: ea6f5fe8924aaa756324d57f87834160
thanks

Pet Peeve: it's a laptop, not a labtop.


If Windows Explorer is crashing on you like that it's likely that you've been infected with a virus, or Windows itself has become corrupt. You can try the System File Checker, but I think you're probably headed for a reinstall of Windows.
- Leo
13-May-2009

happykat
August 21, 2009 3:31 AM

I have problems with windows explorer. i can only open it by opening the shortcut in help and support.and even then it does show correctly on the toolbar, it shows up as "system" etc...I confess i might have deleted my desktop windows explorer link when i had a virus attack. what can i do to get it back and in the right place??ps am a bit of tech novuice so keep it simple please.

Lilly
February 28, 2010 4:55 PM

Hi Leo,

I have opened windows explorer and need to go to 'tools' but I can't seem to find an option anywhere. Just wondering how I could find it.

P.S I have a windows7 hp laptop.

jamie-lee
April 30, 2010 6:32 AM

right, i have tried the ways above to open windows explorer, but i dont have a 'windows' key, it wont let me right click on 'my computer', and there is also no 'Run' button so i cant use any of the following ways to get into windows explorer! please HELP!!

precious ojo
June 9, 2010 11:23 AM

Hi Loe my laptop does not have my computer it only has computer

Jake
July 16, 2010 1:01 AM

Hi leo, why i am not able to access a net work drive from file? i can't also follow the process to map it. Thanks

Martin Moss
July 31, 2010 1:39 AM

Hi, I was using Windows Explorer and it just disappeared off the computer. I downloaded Google onto Favourites and then put it on the start bar. But how do I get Windows Explorer onto the start bar again?

Joanne Momsen
August 5, 2010 9:13 AM

Where is Windows Explorer ! ? I have tried all above but is still struggling to get it !

John
August 8, 2010 6:16 PM

I am trying to open my computer(another). It will not open because it says that Windows Explorer will not open. What can I do? Thank You

Catherine
August 18, 2010 9:14 AM

How do i get free windows explorer to download and show up on computer?????

Read the article. You don't need to download, it's already on your machine.
Leo
19-Aug-2010

Dawn Leshk
August 28, 2010 12:32 PM

I'm reading PC's for Dummies and they tell me to find Windows Explorer but I can't do it on my computer. Dawn

MCKENNA
September 29, 2010 7:01 AM

Where can I see and keep windows explorer on my desktop, I use xp, but cannot find windows explorer on my pc. I need to find notepad for something, and been told to find this through explorer.

gerard
May 12, 2011 9:26 AM

i am having the same problem, when i try to access my photos or my computer etc i get a message saying that windows explorer has stopped working, then, windows explorer is restarting, then the blank page and message disappears. Its driving me nuts. have tried loads of tips but no luck. thanks Ger

Dick
July 26, 2011 1:36 PM

After you find Explorer in the first method you show, right click on Explorer and drag it to the desktop. Select "Copy Here".
Then you will always have a desktop icon to open Explorer.

Trish
August 6, 2011 2:34 AM

Thank you so much, I don't have a problem but my daughter (who has my old computer) couldn't find windows explorer, this has made it easy for me to tell her how to find it, I knew it was there but. . . . .

Marina
October 24, 2011 10:53 PM

I had no trouble finding the file I wanted in Windows explorer, but I need to uninstall the file that's there and it's not giving me that option. What is the best way to delete an unwanted file from Windows Explorer?

If you mean uninstall the program, go to control panel, Programs, right click on the program and click on uninstall. If you mean delete the file you should be able to right click on the file and click on Delete. What happens next depends on the specific file - some, for example, should not be deleted.

Leo
25-Oct-2011
Mark J
October 25, 2011 2:23 AM

@Marina
Here's an article on Ask Leo which explains how to do that
http://ask-leo.com/how_do_i_delete_a_file_in_use.html

I use Unlocker Assistant. It's free and it often works when MoveOnBoot fails.
http://unlocker.en.softonic.com/

Andrew
December 7, 2011 9:35 PM

when I click on Window Explorer (WE), a new tab will appear behind the WE icon at the foot of my screen. It will NOT expand to a proper screen even after I clicked on the tab. Appreciate your help.

Audrey L.
April 25, 2012 1:34 PM

-read your articles and posts
-have an IBM T43 (2005) thinkpad.
-found windows explorer in accessories, as you said. Thank you.
-after dragging it on desktop nothing happens= cannot use it
-if I double click when in the accessories list, the desk top folder pops up ! and windows explorer does not
Please tell me what to do to get this W Expl and be able to use it, as soon as you can.
thank you

Audrey L
April 25, 2012 4:59 PM

to continue my question posted today:
-my objective is to get to an ftp address.
-I am told to use windows explorer but even if I create a desktop icon of window explorer and click on it I still get the desktop contents and cannot paste the ftp adress anywhere and so I am still stuck
- and I need to get to this address
please tell me how to get there or how else to get to my information ?
thank you

Windows Explorer does not have ftp support. I think you mean to use your web browser, Internet Explorer.
Leo
26-Apr-2012
Mark J
April 26, 2012 1:30 AM

@Audrey
I'm not exactly sure what you want to do, but I suggest you type the ftp address into your browser (Internet Explorer not Windows Explorer). This should go to the ftp address.

IPH
October 10, 2012 7:01 PM

Sorry, Leo. You say here in comment dated 26-Apr-2012 "Windows Explorer does not have ftp support." Since XP, it does almost, if you just do this (@Audrey):

From start button click My Network Places. You get a Windows Explorer style window with, in the title bar, simply "My Network Places" and with a left hand pane (the "Explorer bar" according to the View menu) showing "Network Tasks" of which top is "Add a Network Place". (At this stage, in the pane on the right, you get your "my network places" Windows Explorer style list, just as you do if you pick that in the folders tree on the left in a normal "My Computer" Windows Explorer window.)

Click that Add a Network Place menu item to get a new window, the Add Network Place Wizard. Now click "Next" twice and in the "network address" give the FTP site (beginning ftp://) normally on the next page you UNtick the apparently default-ticked "Log on anonymously" and then give your logon username and eventually, when you go ahead and connect, password.

When this has worked you now get a window that LOOKS exactly like a Windows Explorer window, with "Other places" in the left hand pane and shows in the right hand pane the relevant folder/directory of the FTP site to which you have logged on, just as though it were on your machine.

However, I will give Leo this: the title bar contains the URL (netweork path, in other words) "ftp://..." and after that it says "Microsoft Internet Explorer".

But this isn't a browser window; as I say, it looks identical to a Windows Explorer window, with a view menu bar item that offers thumbnails, tiles, icons, list and details --- everything exactly like your normal local Windows Explorer window. The only MSIE thing about it is the fact that the folder whose contents you are looking at is on an FTP server somewhere and the words that follow the address in the title bar.

I have just done this for the first time after using XP for up to ten years and CuteFTP and others for about as long. Yup, it's there. To put a file up you to a copy and paste just as you would to copy within your own HDD folders or on a Windows LAN. It works.

As I say, it LOOKS like Windows Explorer; the only "IE" thing about it is those two words in the title bar. So, in a way, this is actually another case of "Windows Explorer is everywhere", and I hope you find it helps. The question of which Microsoft program this is an instance of could be considered quite sensitive legally. There was, I seem to recall, a court case in the USA with the Justice Dept. and Microsoft related to the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows so that other browsers had an unfair disadvantage some time back.

IPH

Tony
October 22, 2012 1:55 AM

I have Windows 7 and recently my Windows Explorer keeps closing down, looking for the problem, and then restarting. How can I overcome this problem??

connie
October 22, 2012 7:42 AM

@Tony,
Here's an article that should help you with that:
What do I do when Windows Explorer crashes?

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