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I ran ExplorerPatcher on my Windows laptop then force stopped it as explorer.exe unexpectedly shut down. explorer.exe didn't boot up using Task Manager, nor after restart, nor in Safe Mode, nor when I reinstalled Windows 11 (Canary Channel) using the 'keep personal files and apps' option. How could I restore my laptop to a working state without deleting my personal files or apps?

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Try downloading the ExplorerPatcher installer using command line to uninstall:

  • Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open Task Manager
  • Run new task, run powershell
  • In the command line window, switch to a safe directory like D:\ : cd D:\
  • Download the installer from GitHub: curl.exe -L -o ep_setup.exe https://github.com/valinet/ExplorerPatcher/releases/download/22621.1555.55.2_6fb998e/ep_setup.exe
  • Run the installer to uninstall: .\ep_setup.exe /uninstall
  • After uninstalling, explorer.exe to restore the desktop.
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Explorer Patcher does binary patching of Windows. As the source code for Windows is not public property, this is based on disassembler techniques and some guessing, but never, never, on the complete knowledge of the software that's being patched (only Microsoft has that knowledge).

Such strong-arm modification may work, or may have unforeseen effects, as long as that Windows software hasn't changed. Once the software being patched has changed in a later version of Windows, the patching may miss the mark and cause the patched binaries to malfunction in unpredictable ways.

It's a very bad idea to use Explorer Patcher on a new version of Windows for which it was not verified.

I advise to never use such software, unless one is willing to take the risk of reinstalling Windows to undo the patches.

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  • Before I manually backup (I've found that the Open... menu in apps does work, so I'll have to use that) and downgrade to Windows 10, do you have any suggestions that might restore the system without a full wipe of my data?
    – tommyaq
    May 28, 2023 at 0:33
  • I believe that Windows 11 and 10 are similar enough that you can do Repair Install of Windows 10 with an In-place Upgrade or use the Media Creation Tool. Mind your backups, just in case.
    – harrymc
    May 28, 2023 at 7:56
  • A decent patcher should have done some sort of hash or similar to check and make sure it was patching a file that is known to work.
    – trlkly
    May 29, 2023 at 1:22
  • @trlkly: Another possibility is using some heuristic to locate the right spot to patch, which might succeed or not.
    – harrymc
    May 29, 2023 at 7:19
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    @dlatikay: It has destroyed enough Windows installations on our site to be sure that it's far from harmless.
    – harrymc
    May 29, 2023 at 11:55
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Explorer Patcher is a hack for Windows Explorer. Everything I have read says (1) it does not work well (Windows 11 Explorer and Task Bar are not highly customizable) and (2) may be difficult to uninstall.

See this article where the OP said they had to reinstall Windows 11 to get rid of it.

Explorer Patcher issues

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  • More importantly Explorer Patcher might not be compatible with Insider Preview builds, eventually it will work, but that isn’t something we can help with.
    – Ramhound
    May 27, 2023 at 17:02

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