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Windows can't find explorer.exe

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July 24, 2005 4:29:04 PM

Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.help_and_support (More info?)

I don't get any desktop icons and start bar. When I use the task
manager to start explorer.exe I get "Windows cannot find
'C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe even though it is there. So I copied
explorer.exe to explorercopy.exe and that copy of explorer works. So
it's not the program or association that's the problem. I then renamed
the copied program to the original name and that failed. So it's
actually the name explorer.exe that is the problem. Can anyone help?
Can I change the registry to point to this copied version of explorer
that works?
July 24, 2005 4:39:40 PM

Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.help_and_support (More info?)

RJ wrote:
> I don't get any desktop icons and start bar. When I use the task
> manager to start explorer.exe I get "Windows cannot find
> 'C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe even though it is there. So I copied
> explorer.exe to explorercopy.exe and that copy of explorer works. So
> it's not the program or association that's the problem. I then renamed
> the copied program to the original name and that failed. So it's
> actually the name explorer.exe that is the problem. Can anyone help?
> Can I change the registry to point to this copied version of explorer
> that works?

Just wanted to add that I renamed the winlogon shell registry entry to
explorero.exe and then it worked. What could possibly be wrong with
the explorer.exe name and can I correct it?
July 24, 2005 4:41:00 PM

Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.help_and_support (More info?)

RJ wrote:
> I don't get any desktop icons and start bar. When I use the task
> manager to start explorer.exe I get "Windows cannot find
> 'C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe even though it is there. So I copied
> explorer.exe to explorercopy.exe and that copy of explorer works. So
> it's not the program or association that's the problem. I then renamed
> the copied program to the original name and that failed. So it's
> actually the name explorer.exe that is the problem. Can anyone help?
> Can I change the registry to point to this copied version of explorer
> that works?

Just wanted to add that I renamed the winlogon shell registry entry to
explorero.exe and then it worked. What could possibly be wrong with
the explorer.exe name and can I correct it?
Related resources
August 6, 2005 11:27:41 AM

Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.help_and_support (More info?)

I finally fixed this problem. I was running AUTORUNS from SYSINTERNALS
(you guys are awesome). There was this entry:
HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution
Options

+ explorer.exe File not found: C:\WINDOWS\System32\grpmnt.exe

I deleted then fixed the registry entry that I previously changed and
it now works.
August 24, 2008 3:48:25 PM

It worked !!!
Anonymous
August 30, 2008 3:56:47 AM

This issue is usually related to a virus infection. What happened to a client of mine was as follows:

- System gets infected by virus
- Antivirus software is installed, including updates
- Antivirus software runs, cleans out several infected files
- At next boot, Windows shell does not run
- When in Task Manager (started by pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL), when choosing File, Run and entering explorer.exe, error message "Windows cannot find explorer.exe".
- If you open a DOS prompt and browse to C:\WINDOWS and do DIR EX*., explorer.exe shows up. You can rename the file, delete the file, etc.; the file is clearly there.
- If you try to replace explorer.exe with a copy from a Windows installation CD, you still get "Windows cannot find explorer.exe"

The registry entry HKLM/Software/Microsoft/Windows NT/Current Version/Image File Execution Options/explorer.exe has a key similar to "Debugger" with value similar to "C:\Windows\Infected.exe".

The antivirus software has successfully removed Infected.exe, but it has not done anything to remedy the registry entry created by the virus; it is this registry entry that is causing Windows not to be able to run explorer.exe, and unfortunately the Windows error message is not really accurate.

The solution then is to remove the "Debugger" registry key. Then, explorer.exe has no restrictions when you attempt to run it; after you do this, reboot, and you should find that the system is back to normal (assuming there are no other registry entries that have been altered, or other viruses on the system, etc.)
September 6, 2008 6:59:12 PM

That worked! As Anonymous recommended, I deleted the "Debugger" registry key from the entry for Explorer, rebooted, and my desktop is now back. I realize now I had done what his client had ... run a new antivirus program (AVG 8), which successfully removed a virus. Apparently it left behind an offending Explorer registry item. BTW I tried many other remedies before stumbling upon this one, none of those helped. Thanks again. - Gil Arnold Raleigh, NC
September 11, 2008 11:48:45 AM

This worked for me as well - Same Issue that it occurred after running a scan with AVG8.
Although I could access the explorer.exe in safe mode OK. just not in normal mode.
Anyway - Thanks - as I also spent 4 hours looking at the blnak desktop posts before comming across this one.
September 14, 2008 8:43:36 PM

hey guys...

I have the exact same problem... I just can't seem to figure out how to remove the "Debugger" registry key... Can anyone tell me how to do this... Thank you very much..
September 18, 2008 12:35:32 AM

press Ctrl + Shift + Esc

then file new task, type regedit

then go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image Execution Options\

in this list there will be a entry explorer.exe right click on it and export it. then on the right hand side delete the "debugger" key.

Becareful regedit is dangerious if you aren't paying attention, always backup keys before you play with them.
September 21, 2008 4:24:50 AM

I can't find explorer.exe in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image Execution Options\

I find it under applications. Is that it?

Your help is appreciated.
September 26, 2008 5:05:40 PM

:cry: 
WBL said:
press Ctrl + Shift + Esc

then file new task, type regedit

then go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image Execution Options\

in this list there will be a entry explorer.exe right click on it and export it. then on the right hand side delete the "debugger" key.

Becareful regedit is dangerious if you aren't paying attention, always backup keys before you play with them.


Explorer.exe isn't listed. any other solutions? Thanks
October 16, 2008 8:00:32 AM

I have this problem too!
Now the comment "Be careful regedit is dangerous" kind of scares me a bit.
Secondly, having followed the instructions, found explorer.exe, right clicked to do the export "command", I then get a dialogue box which is not mentioned in your procedure: suggesting I export it to my documents, and I am also asked for a file name (I assume explorer.exe would be the file name).... do I just click save and then delete the "debugger key" and quit then re-boot?
It occurs to me that if I've exported explorer.exe to my documents, I should then import it again once my system has re-booted.
You see I'm only suggesting what my instincts tell me, but a little knowledge can be very dangerous!!!!
I would be grateful for a little more advise.
Many thanks for any help you may be able to provide, Chrres, Trevor
October 17, 2008 8:00:18 PM

Absolutely phenomenal.
This actually worked!!!

Thank you very much!!!!!
November 21, 2008 3:16:17 PM

WBL wrote:
press Ctrl + Shift + Esc

then file new task, type regedit

then go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image Execution Options\

in this list there will be a entry explorer.exe right click on it and export it. then on the right hand side delete the "debugger" key.

Becareful regedit is dangerious if you aren't paying attention, always backup keys before you play with them."

Thank you for this wonderful fix. After several hours of trying to solve this problem, your post was a life saver. To get to this point several other posts were very helpful in helping figure out how to get information out of a blank screen system. Finding out that a re-named explorer.exe would run when explorer.exe wouldn't helped a lot.

Does anyone know of a downside to having deleted this registry key?

Thanks. Gerry
December 30, 2008 12:35:29 PM

Worked for me, I could see by typing c:\windows\system32 that explorer was actually there, but would not run. I deleted debugger key , worked great . Pc was infected by spywareguard 2008 (green sheild) I removed that with malwarebytes. Good Luck

Brendan
Computer Junkies
www.computerjunkiesonline.com
January 2, 2009 4:53:05 PM

Thank you for saving me many hours of hair pulling!
January 3, 2009 6:32:16 PM

Same issue for me, and I would appreciate additional assistance. Dell Dimension E310 computer with XP Media Center. Only the background appears on bootup. With Task Manager, I can start explorer.exe but it quits immediately. The file is located in C:\Windows. Renaming the file did not help for me. Checking the registry: (HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options), I do not have an explorer.exe entry to delete. Using Task manager I have run scans and cleaning tools that I have (Ad-Aware, Spybot, Spy Sweeper, AVG, Trojan remover, Malware Bytes tools, UnHackMe, CCleaner, CWSchredder, Counterspy, etc.). I have also removed the hard drive and ran scans as a slave drive in a different machine. Tried Windows refresh multiple times, no errors during install, but does not solve the problem. Getting close to doing a clean Windows install, but I noticed this thread had current comments, so thought I would give it a try. Thanks, Charlie
Anonymous
January 11, 2009 5:57:24 PM

I use Kaspersky and I've just solved this problem on my computer. When you open Kaspersky, find Quarantine (in Reports and Data Files) and you should see explorer.exe there, on the list. Click on it and and then select Restore. Then go to Task Manager (Alt+Ctrl+Delete)>New Task, type explorer.exe and OK. Worked for me. Good luck.
Anonymous
January 14, 2009 1:53:51 PM

awesome job dude...it solved my issueeee
January 23, 2009 5:15:15 AM

Here's my experience...

MY PROBLEM:
- System gets infected by virus
- Antivirus software is installed (Norton 2009), including updates
- Antivirus software runs, cleans out several infected files
- At next boot, Windows shell does not run
- When in Task Manager (started by pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL), when choosing File, Run and entering explorer.exe, error message "Windows cannot find explorer.exe".
- If you open a DOS prompt and browse to C:\WINDOWS and do DIR EX*., explorer.exe shows up. You can rename the file, delete the file, etc.; the file is clearly there.
- If you try to replace explorer.exe with a copy from a Windows installation CD, you still get "Windows cannot find explorer.exe"

THE SOLUTION:
press Ctrl + Shift + Esc

then file new task, type regedit

then go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image Execution Options\

in this list there will be a entry explorer.exe right click on it and export it. then on the right hand side delete the "debugger" key.

ADDITIONAL INFO:
For the other people out there that aren't very computer savy (like myself) the "debugger" key is just a file on the right side of the window named "debugger". I was a bit freaked to just go into the system and delete a file, but I did and now my computer works again. Thanks to all for the previous posts.
January 25, 2009 6:06:24 PM

Thanks Amystraz

This was the solution I needed.

I had a virus report from AVG and it deleted the infection but must have left the corrupted registry entry in the process. The next time I rebooted the computer the desktop was gone. I had even done a re-install/repair of Windows XP and it still did not correct the problem with the registry.

After deleting the "debugger" line in the registry all was back to normal.
February 10, 2009 7:21:33 PM

Thank you so much! You cannot imagine how helpful this tip is.
I had this message on a French Windows XP
"le système ne peut pas trouver le fichier" explorer.exe
And sadly, at startup, the desktop did not appear...
We say in French, "le bureau n'apparaît pas"...

Deleting this regedit key was definitely THE solution.

PS: I have included French words to help French people to find this solution.
Sorry for all those who cannot understand French.

PS2: To Virus makers, Please STOP immediately! Understand that many people (you do not even know) suffer from your acts. Is it what you really want to do??? Wouldn't it be better to do something good for the world?
February 22, 2009 2:44:29 PM

I've have been having similar issues to most of the posts reporting problems here.(no icons, taskbar and start button do not appear)

I have AVG 8.0 and i scanned my computer, and explorer.exe is not found in any of the infections, spywares, warnings, and it's not in my virus vault. So i could not restore it.

i also tried the regedit. I followed all the steps and i do not have an explorer.exe file under image file execution options.

i have tried so much, checked so many different websites.
i ran a chkdsk which took about 3.5 hours to complete- did nothing.

i have also tried running my computer in safe mode and the icons and task bar still do not show up.

is there anything else?
February 22, 2009 2:59:10 PM

also i made a copy of explorer.exe and when i clicked it. it simpy opened up my documents....
does this mean anything?
Anonymous
March 17, 2009 3:47:24 PM

WBL said:
press Ctrl + Shift + Esc

then file new task, type regedit

then go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image Execution Options\

in this list there will be a entry explorer.exe right click on it and export it. then on the right hand side delete the "debugger" key.

Becareful regedit is dangerious if you aren't paying attention, always backup keys before you play with them.


there still a problem i cant open regedit why? plsssssss tell me how to fix this problem plssss
March 17, 2009 11:03:13 PM

Clawz

When you press Ctrl+Shift+Esc simultaneously do you get to the "Windows Task Manager"?

If you do and you click on FILE on the top left of the menu bar, does the New Task(Run) selection come up?
Anonymous
March 27, 2009 5:31:02 AM

Thank you guys! It worked ! :bounce: 
Anonymous
March 28, 2009 4:05:59 AM

This is really gr8 site, I almost spent more than half day today to get the reason...
and finially this site provide me the solution....
The issue was same no desktop display,no start up etc. tried every thing from expanding explorer.exe to repair ....but was not able to run explorer.exe on Windows 2003.

By removing the above said registry entry .... made my life :bounce: 


Thanks you!!! you are gr8 guys!
Amit
April 3, 2009 10:49:20 PM

you are the man.before, i had formated 3 times because of that.perfect.thanks again!
April 7, 2009 12:42:49 PM

I have followed the steps said, when i press (ctrl-shift-esc) the windows task manager window comes up. I have gone and opened the New task, but its says "Registry editing has been disabled by your administrator" so I can't even try regedit. I have checked to see if explore.exe is still on my computer and found that it is working. I don't know if anyone else has had this problem but you might want to try it to see if you have the same thing. Try to open a scheduled tasks shortcut and find it says "Windows cannot fine 'C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe'. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again. to search for a file, click the Start button, and then click Search.". I tryed opening the scheduled tasks through the control panel and it worked fine. I scanned my computer twice and I'm doing a third as i type this the past two time it has found a trojan dropper generic (I have an up to date version of AVG 8). I have yet to restart the computer because I don't know if the computer will still be working.

Anything will help me at this point, one last thing I'm have a window saying "An unknown application is trying to change your default search engine" I have not done anything for this to pop up. I have mozilla firefox as a internet browser.

The scan is at about 490 thousand scanned items at about 50min and the trojans were found about 20min into the scan I'll wait to restart my computer if anyone suggests it until then I'll be waiting here. :( 
April 12, 2009 1:04:20 AM

Thanks very very much I had this problem in 2 computers
and i already had format one...
but with the other i did what u said..
thanks..

It works perfectly for me....

THANKS .

Anonymous
April 12, 2009 7:35:22 PM

Worked for me too! Thanks.
Steve UK :pt1cable: 
April 18, 2009 1:17:41 PM

amystraz said:
Here's my experience...

MY PROBLEM:
- System gets infected by virus
- Antivirus software is installed (Norton 2009), including updates
- Antivirus software runs, cleans out several infected files
- At next boot, Windows shell does not run
- When in Task Manager (started by pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL), when choosing File, Run and entering explorer.exe, error message "Windows cannot find explorer.exe".
- If you open a DOS prompt and browse to C:\WINDOWS and do DIR EX*., explorer.exe shows up. You can rename the file, delete the file, etc.; the file is clearly there.
- If you try to replace explorer.exe with a copy from a Windows installation CD, you still get "Windows cannot find explorer.exe"

THE SOLUTION:
press Ctrl + Shift + Esc

then file new task, type regedit

then go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image Execution Options\

in this list there will be a entry explorer.exe right click on it and export it. then on the right hand side delete the "debugger" key.

ADDITIONAL INFO:
For the other people out there that aren't very computer savy (like myself) the "debugger" key is just a file on the right side of the window named "debugger". I was a bit freaked to just go into the system and delete a file, but I did and now my computer works again. Thanks to all for the previous posts.

April 18, 2009 1:17:41 PM

amystraz said:
Here's my experience...

MY PROBLEM:
- System gets infected by virus
- Antivirus software is installed (Norton 2009), including updates
- Antivirus software runs, cleans out several infected files
- At next boot, Windows shell does not run
- When in Task Manager (started by pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL), when choosing File, Run and entering explorer.exe, error message "Windows cannot find explorer.exe".
- If you open a DOS prompt and browse to C:\WINDOWS and do DIR EX*., explorer.exe shows up. You can rename the file, delete the file, etc.; the file is clearly there.
- If you try to replace explorer.exe with a copy from a Windows installation CD, you still get "Windows cannot find explorer.exe"

THE SOLUTION:
press Ctrl + Shift + Esc

then file new task, type regedit

then go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image Execution Options\

in this list there will be a entry explorer.exe right click on it and export it. then on the right hand side delete the "debugger" key.

ADDITIONAL INFO:
For the other people out there that aren't very computer savy (like myself) the "debugger" key is just a file on the right side of the window named "debugger". I was a bit freaked to just go into the system and delete a file, but I did and now my computer works again. Thanks to all for the previous posts.

April 20, 2009 5:07:30 AM

Just to say thanks VERY much, because I found my laptop was infected with Trojan Pakes.AHL, posing as wuauclt.exe, residing in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Common\, and although AVG found it and removed it, the registry still need to be fixed.
One thing not clear however, when you export the explorer.exe , where do you save it? or doesn't that matter? Deleting the debugger clearly fixes the problem.
Brillaint, you saved me a whole re-installation
April 27, 2009 6:49:49 PM

Hi there,

hopefully someone is still looking at this thread...

I'm having the same issue with my notebook running XP. After booting, blank screen. I can bring up task manager, but I CANNOT bring up regedit or a command window. If I type in "c:\windows\regedit.exe" nothing happens. Same if I type in "cmd". The only thing I was able to bring up was "msconfig".

I've tried running windows in safe mode, but that didn't help.

Can someone please help?

Thanks so much!!
April 27, 2009 7:11:13 PM



Hi there,

I'm having the same issue with my notebook running XP. After booting, blank screen. I can bring up task manager, but I CANNOT bring up regedit or a command window. If I type in "c:\windows\regedit.exe" nothing happens. Same if I type in "cmd". The only thing I was able to bring up was "msconfig".

I've tried running windows in safe mode, but that didn't help.

Can you help me?? I'm desparate!!

Thanks so much!!
April 29, 2009 1:01:31 PM

I was finally able to resolve this, in a way similar to what you suggested.

I downloaded the xp_emegencyutil.exe from http://www.dougknox.com/, and this put regedit back on my machine. Then I modified the registry as explained further up in this thread.

Phew!!!
Anonymous
May 6, 2009 10:25:28 AM

Hi guys! The error I get is similar but not the same. I try to open a partition like Disk D: or F:, and i get the error "Can't find Explorerfiles.exe". I tried everything you said in this forum, i went to Regedit and i can't find any explorer.exe entry or nothing like it... What should i do?
May 7, 2009 5:03:24 AM

hi,

i cant find the "image execution option".. theres only "image file execution option", is it the same one? btw, there is no debugger registry either. any solution?

agra
May 29, 2009 3:40:38 AM

HELP! Where am I exporting the explorer.exe to??? I just delete the debugger key, manually start explorer.exe, see the desktop and start button appear, and the computer locks up.....I can move the mouse around, but I can't press the start button or anything else. I can't exit out of task manager. Evetually everything freezes, I restart, and again I have no desktop and no explorer.exe. WHat do I do???? -Crystal
June 4, 2009 6:17:33 AM

I had this 'can't find explorer.exe' problem a few days ago, after getting an infection that was apparently removed by Sophos antivirus - but looks like it left this Debugger registry entry behind that was preventing explorer.exe from starting. Deleting that registry entry did indeed do the trick for me and everything is back to normal now. Thank you!

compusacryst: you don't need to export explorer.exe to anywhere... the export function is just a way to make a backup of your registry key value(s) before you change them (call it myregistrykeys.reg or something). However, sounds like you've already deleted the Debugger key, and it's successfully allowed you to restart explorer - so that part's worked and you can see your task bar again.

The 'freezing' sounds like a different problem. It might be another symptom of whatever infected you in the first place and caused explorer.exe to stop working. I'd try googling for those new symptoms as it sounds like a separate problem. (First step would probably be to scan your computer with a reputable anti-virus application - but hard to know what you've tried already...)
June 4, 2009 7:16:50 AM

This topic has been closed by Randomizer
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