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I'm having an odd problem on one of my Windows 7 machines. At machine startup, explorer.exe is working properly - I can use the Start menu, click on desktop icons, etc. At some later point, though, I lose the ability to interact with desktop icons. I can't double-click to open files on the desktop, and I can't right-click to see the properties window.

Oddly enough the Start menu still works properly, and I can still open an Explorer window into my desktop and access everything. I can get around the problem by killing explorer.exe and restarting it using Task Manager, but it's annoying to have to do this over and over.

Does anyone have any ideas? I took a look at startup files with msconfig and didn't see any obvious problems. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Have you done a virus scan? – Robert Harvey Aug 19 '10 at 14:24
Virus scan turns up nothing - I'm running Microsoft Security Essentials. – Roger Aug 19 '10 at 20:46
It sounds like a bad shell-extension. Have you installed any “desktop-enhancement” software? – Synetech Jul 29 '12 at 15:43
I second @Synetech there, use something like ShellExView to find out – jay Sep 29 '12 at 23:34

Look in your event log for errors around the time of the explorer.exe failure.

Also are you running a particular piece of software when the error happens?

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This is really frustrating, but after happening every day for weeks, it hasn't happened again since I posted the question. I'll check these things the next time explorer freezes. – Roger Aug 21 '10 at 15:33
OK, it happened again. No errors in the System log. The only error in the Application log is this one: Activation context generation failed for "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\Remote Debugger\ia64\msvsmon.exe". Dependent Assembly Microsoft.Windows.Common-Controls,language="*",processorArchitecture="ia64"‌​,publicKeyToken="6595b64144ccf1df",type="win32",version="" could not be found. Please use sxstrace.exe for detailed diagnosis. I'm not sure why the .NET remote debugger was called, or if it could have any bearing on my problem. – Roger Aug 21 '10 at 18:46
I think it loads on startup – Sylvester the Cat Oct 30 '12 at 4:57
I believe but am not positive that developed applications might call the debugger. So it could be something else causing the debugger to crash. – jer.salamon Oct 31 '12 at 1:39

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