Easily Exit and Restart Explorer.exe in Windows 7

If you have made changes to your Windows Registry so that it requires you to log off and log back on, but you do not want to log off, then you can just kill explorer.exe process and restart it. This way the current user section of the Registry is loaded again along with the changes that you made. Although you can kill explorer.exe using the Task Manager, but there is a hidden option in Windows 7 to exit explorer.exe safely. This is how :

  1. Click on the Start Menu (the blue orb on the bottom-left of screen).
  2. Press and hold the keys combination Ctrl + Shift.
  3. While holding down these keys on your keyboard, right-click on the Shutdown button.

    Safely kill Explorer.exe

  4. Select Exit Explorer from the right-click menu. This would kill the explorer.exe process safely.
  5. Now that you have killed explorer.exe, all windows will be closed. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc key shortcut on your keyboard to open the Windows Task Manager.
  6. In the Windows Task Manager, select File → New Task (Run…) from the menubar as shown.

    Start Task Manager

  7. In the Create New Task window, type %windir%explorer.exe and click on the OK button.

    Restart Explorer.exe

  8. This will restart explorer.exe. Although, you can just type explorer.exe but prepending %windir% makes sure that the valid explorer.exe is loaded and not some rogue program (if you are infected by malware).