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I'm looking to "Gracefully Exit/Terminate" Windows Explorer either from the UI or possibly command line.

There are many articles on the web which explain how to do this in various versions of Windows (XP, Vista, 7 & 8):

Here on Stack Overflow, there was one particular article which discusses exiting Windows explorer programmatically: How do you gracefully close Explorer programmatically?

There have been some very detailed & technical responses posted here, so I'm hoping someone on Stack Overflow will actually be able to explain why I do not have the "Exit Explorer" option via the GUI?.

I've tried Ctrl+Shift+Click, Ctrl+Shift+RtClick, Ctrl+Alt+Click, etc. with no luck.

Here is my system info:

  • Win7Ultimate SP1 64bit
  • PentiumD2.8
  • 4GB RAM
  • no pen or touch


Perhaps it's a SP1 "fix" or a problem with the 64bit version? Somehow it was turned off.

In addition, is there a command line method to "Exit Explorer" gracefully? (afaik taskkill is the same as killing the process in Task Manager, & is not graceful.)

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migrated from Apr 28 '12 at 23:00

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

If you're not looking for a programmatical solution, this isn't the right place to ask. Voting to move. – Matti Virkkunen Apr 28 '12 at 22:50
I've got Win7Ultimate, SP1, 64bit, and I have the "Exit Explorer" menu option, but only if I hold Ctrl+Shift when right-clicking. Both left and right versions of both Ctrl and Shift work, even in combination. What's your keyboard layout? – Ben Voigt Apr 28 '12 at 23:33
Why do you want to do this in the first place? – cutrightjm Apr 29 '12 at 1:15
And assuming you have some legit need to exit Explorer, what behavior will "exiting gracefully" achieve that is different from just killing the process? Generally the only reason to exit Explorer is that it has hung or done something bad, in which case you probably need to kill the process anyway. – skypecakes Apr 29 '12 at 7:41
@skypecakes In the event Explorer hasn't finished an operation, I would like to give it the chance to finish before I terminate it (for instance after installing a program.) – Geo Baj Apr 29 '12 at 13:44
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Perhaps it's UAC issue. Are you sure your user has Admin rights?

Also, taskkill can be used to send a couple different signals to processes. I believe that using the default taskkill tells the process to clean up its space (as well as prompting for unsaved files if needed) and "gracefully" terminate. If that can't be done for some reason, then you taskkill /F to forcefully terminate the process.

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Any chance you would have a small c# program snippet that could detect the "graceful" message from the OS? Then I could test taskkill on it. :-) – Geo Baj Apr 29 '12 at 13:45
Open notepad, type a few letters into it, don't save the file. Click on Start, type cmd into the box and run cmd.exe. Run taskkill /IM notepad.exe. Notice that notepad prompts you to save the document. Now do the sames thing, but this time use taskkill /F /IM notepad.exe. No save prompt. – Ariel Apr 29 '12 at 17:08
Ariel: Thanks, awesome thought, I should have thought of that!... However, I still would like to know from a programmer's perspective what "Windows System Event" I would need to add to my programs so that the respond to a taskkill or Windows Shutdown. Thanks. – Geo Baj Apr 30 '12 at 11:18
Window.Closing if you are using .Net. – Ariel Apr 30 '12 at 11:25
Ariel: I'm marking your answer correct... though I do hope someone will eventually help me discover why I can't do it with a mouse... :-( Thanks for Window.Closing too, I'll have to research that. – Geo Baj Apr 30 '12 at 18:50


Use the keyboard way:

  1. Win+M
  2. Alt+F4
  3. Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Esc


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